Bus Workers Protest at City Council Meeting

Posted at: 12/02/2013 10:59 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Public transit workers came out in protest Monday to defend their wages. A number of workers filed in the Rochester City Council meeting Monday with bright signs protesting a possible contract that would affect drivers' pay. However, they’re owned by First Transit, an international company, not the city. Still, they hope city leaders will go to bat for them.

You can see by all of the bus stops, public transportation is an important part of Rochester, but those with Rochester Public Transit say they're services are only going to go downhill if First Transit decides to change the wage scale. “The conditions of the RFP which they bid on in 2012, they did that with their initial 6 month contract, but now for nearly a year, they've been trying to essentially switch that, so we kind of feel it was a bait-and-switch that First Transit did to us,” said Mark Lawson with the transit union defending these drivers.

Now, they say First Transit insists on changing the wage scale and making it lower for new workers. They want workers to come in at frozen wages. The union defending these local drivers says, that's not only unfair to them but to passengers too. “If we allow First Transit to come in and start to downgrade the job, it makes the wages go from livable wages to not livable wages, and the quality of workforce that it can attract, ultimately will deteriorate,” said Lawson.

The Rochester City Attorney says the city is not in charge of making this decision. This was the first time most of the council members had heard of this and most were also upset, especially with the important role transit workers play in the growth of this city. As of now though, there is no deadline for a contract.