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TCAT agrees to two-year contract to retain workforce

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  • Staff Report 

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, has ratified a two-year contract with multi-tiered pay increases for its union-represented drivers and maintenance staff. The goal is to attract new hires and compensate longtime employees. The agreement was passed with 43-25 votes and was officially adopted by the TCAT Board of Directors.

The new contract offers wage increases, increasing hourly wages to $22.79 for new drivers and $25.88 for new mechanics during their training. Wages are then set to rise to $23.67 for drivers and to $26.75 for mechanics. Beginning January 1, employees with at least one year of service will receive a 3.25% increase to $24.44 an hour for drivers and $27.62 an hour for mechanics. Employees with three to nine years of service will receive a 10.5% increase, and those with 10-plus years of service will receive a 14% increase.

There is an immediate one-time bonus of $750 for all union employees, and a higher reimbursement for protective shoes and tools required for mechanics and drivers. Juneteenth (June 19) will now be a TCAT-observed holiday, similar to Labor Day. TCAT will operate reduced service on Juneteenth, and employees who work that day will be eligible for extra pay or compensatory time off.

Outgoing mayor and TCAT board member, Laura Lewis, said that the new contract addresses staff recruitment, retention, and morale. TCAT has stepped up its recruitment efforts and expanded its driver training program, hiring a second trainer and recruiter, and increasing its monthly training classes. Additionally, TCAT has budgeted for an additional 20 full-time drivers and two part-time drivers in 2023.

TCAT’s 2019 pre-pandemic numbers recorded 84 full-time and five part-time drivers on the payroll. Excluding drivers out on leave and in training, 75 were available for work. At the end of 2022, TCAT had 65 drivers on the payroll, of which 59 were full-time and six were part-time. Excluding leaves of absence and one driver in training, 51 full-time and five part-time drivers were available to work.