BEAUMONT — The City of Beaumont is releasing a statement clarifying the city’s response to the contract dispute between the local Amalgamated Transit Union members and First Transit.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1031 held a ‘Rally for Fairness’ Sunday, saying members are seeking a resumption in negotiations to work toward a new contract.
The bus drivers are employed by a company called First Transit, a provider of public transportation contracting and managing services.
The union says it’s authorized its management to call a strike if necessary, although it wants to avoid that.
The union says it wants a reasonable wage, hazard pay for pandemic workers, and a commitment to addressing safety.
City Planning Director Chris Boone released a statement Tuesday on behalf of the city:
“The City of Beaumont is prohibited from getting involved in the negotiations. If a new contract is reached between first transit and the union, it would then need to be approved by the city because we pay for approximately 40%-50% of the operating costs each year. The overall transit system is paid for by the city; federal government; state of texas and the riders through fairbox revenue.”
The union has submitted to City Manager Kyle Hayes a community petition signed by nearly 300 Beaumont residents. The union says the petition condemned Transit Management of Beaumont/First Transit and the City of Beaumont for their treatment of workers. The union also revealed results of a safety audit it claims showed more than 89% of the bus fleet was unfit for service, with everything from shattered windows to substandard brakes.
Local 1031 has been in negotiations with Transit Management of Beaumont/First Transit since October 2020.
KFDM/Fox 4 has reached out to Transit Management of Beaumont for comment. Here is the response:
“Transit Management of Beaumont, manages transit operations within the contractual agreement executed with the city, which does not include setting the budget. The additional funding request by ATU 1031, right now at more than $1 million, is not within the approved budget issued from the City of Beaumont and used by First Transit, Transit Management of Beaumont. The City of Beaumont is responsible for the financials, capital, and budget for the Beaumont Municipal Transit System, including all funding requests above the budgeted amount set for the current fiscal year, ending on September 30, 2021. As the owner of the budget and funding for the Beaumont Municipal Transit System, the City of Beaumont is responsible on how any CARES Act funding is allocated.
First Transit, Transit Management of Beaumont, has met with the union (ATU Local 1031) almost ten times since October 2020, the start date of our transit management contract with the City of Beaumont, and will continue to negotiate in good faith.”
Written by KFDM/FOX 4