ST. PETERSBURG – PSTA Board members gave unanimous approval to a three-year labor agreement with Florida Public Service Union during the Oct. 24 meeting.
James Bradford, chief operation officer, said the agreement covers PSTA’s 460 “front-line” employees, which includes bus operators, customer service representatives, mechanics and other maintenance positions. The previous agreement expired Sept. 30.
PSTA began collective bargaining with SEIU this summer on a three-year contract that covers wages; benefits; work assignments; shift and vacation bidding; drug and alcohol testing; pay guarantees; and other work policies and procedures.
After 12 bargaining sessions and review of 98 different proposals, the two sides reached an agreement on Oct. 2. The agreement is retroactive to Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2021.
The agreement includes an increase in the minimum hourly starting rate for all employees to $13. The current minimum wage is $12.85.
The new minimum starting wage for bus operators is $15 and $17 for mechanics. Top rate employees will receive a 3.25 percent wage increase in fiscal year 2019, followed by 3 percent increases in FY 2020 and FY 2021.
For example, with the new agreement in place, in FY 2018-2019, a bus operator would start at $15 and “step up” the pay scale depending on how long they have worked in that position with the top wage of $23.59 for employees with 55 months or more on the job. The following year, pay for bus operators with 55 or more months would go up to $24.30 and $25.03 in FY 2021.
The top wage for customer service representative with 55 or more months of employment goes up to $19.46 in FY 2019, $20.05 in FY 2020 and $20.65 in FY 2021.
Work rules for use of vacation and holidays were revised to give employees more control over their work schedules and increased the flexibility for taking time off. Other rules were updated to increase employee accountability for safer operations, enhanced customer service and performance-based work.
The pay raise plan along with guaranteed health insurance options will allow PSTA to recruit more quality applicants, especially as employees retire, and improve retention of current employees, Bradford said.
The agreement fits within PSTA projected three-year budget.