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Thursday, June 30, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesVITRAN FINANCIAL STATE IS TOPIC OF MEETING

VITRAN FINANCIAL STATE IS TOPIC OF MEETING

Government House chief labor negotiator Karen Andrews went into a meeting late Tuesday morning with members of the Finance and Public Works Departments and the Office of Management and Budget to get feedback on the progress that's been made on a promised financial analysis of the territory's public transit system.
Andrews said earlier Tuesday that an unusually high number of Vitran bus drivers have been calling in sick since the work force was cut in half effective last Thursday.
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the United Steelworkers Union, which represents the Vitran workers on St. Thomas and St. John, said Tuesday that he is waiting to hear from the Turnbull administration on the concessions offered by the transit employees. Meantime, Ralph Mandrew, president of the V.I. Workers Union, which represents the Vitran employees on St. Croix, said on Monday that the union supports Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg's call for an audit of Vitran operations by the V.I. Inspector General's Office.
At the Tuesday meeting, which was expected to continue into the afternoon, Finance and OMB officials were to report on the status of a $600,000 appropriation voted last month by the Legislature to keep the transit system intact through the end of the fiscal year, Andrews said. And Public Works officials were to report on how a 20 percent cost reduction would impact on Vitran operations. The unions have offered to cut back to a four-day work week, which would represent a 20 percent cut in pay.
The government laid off 62 unionized workers, one-half of the work force, last Thursday as part of an administration move to reduce public transit spending by 50 percent. In a last-minute attempt to prevent the mass layoffs, union officials in both districts proposed dropping down to a four-day work week. The workers had earlier volunteered to forgo sick-leave, holiday and overtime pay.
Andrews said union officials will have to wait for a response to their offer until the reports have been received and evaluated. She said she told Morales last Friday that further talks with the unions about the Vitran layoffs could not proceed until the system's financial status was clarified.
Morales said would like to see a way found for all of those who lost their jobs last week to return to work, even if on a reduced schedule. "My hope is that everybody will still be working," he said.
In addition to Andrews, sources close to the transit system on St. Thomas and St. John say that since the reductions took effect Thursday, service has been hampered by drivers failing to report to work for their new assignments. Morales said the spotty performance is proof of overzealousness on the part of the government in cutting the transit work force.
Andrews said some of the routing problems can be blamed on poor scheduling but she said there has also been a higher-than normal instance of Vitran workers calling in sick. "Employees who have been retained are now sending in sick slips," she said.
The performance of the remaining work force was also expected to come up as a topic at the Tuesday meeting, Andrews said.

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Government House chief labor negotiator Karen Andrews went into a meeting late Tuesday morning with members of the Finance and Public Works Departments and the Office of Management and Budget to get feedback on the progress that's been made on a promised financial analysis of the territory's public transit system.
Andrews said earlier Tuesday that an unusually high number of Vitran bus drivers have been calling in sick since the work force was cut in half effective last Thursday.
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the United Steelworkers Union, which represents the Vitran workers on St. Thomas and St. John, said Tuesday that he is waiting to hear from the Turnbull administration on the concessions offered by the transit employees. Meantime, Ralph Mandrew, president of the V.I. Workers Union, which represents the Vitran employees on St. Croix, said on Monday that the union supports Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg's call for an audit of Vitran operations by the V.I. Inspector General's Office.
At the Tuesday meeting, which was expected to continue into the afternoon, Finance and OMB officials were to report on the status of a $600,000 appropriation voted last month by the Legislature to keep the transit system intact through the end of the fiscal year, Andrews said. And Public Works officials were to report on how a 20 percent cost reduction would impact on Vitran operations. The unions have offered to cut back to a four-day work week, which would represent a 20 percent cut in pay.
The government laid off 62 unionized workers, one-half of the work force, last Thursday as part of an administration move to reduce public transit spending by 50 percent. In a last-minute attempt to prevent the mass layoffs, union officials in both districts proposed dropping down to a four-day work week. The workers had earlier volunteered to forgo sick-leave, holiday and overtime pay.
Andrews said union officials will have to wait for a response to their offer until the reports have been received and evaluated. She said she told Morales last Friday that further talks with the unions about the Vitran layoffs could not proceed until the system's financial status was clarified.
Morales said would like to see a way found for all of those who lost their jobs last week to return to work, even if on a reduced schedule. "My hope is that everybody will still be working," he said.
In addition to Andrews, sources close to the transit system on St. Thomas and St. John say that since the reductions took effect Thursday, service has been hampered by drivers failing to report to work for their new assignments. Morales said the spotty performance is proof of overzealousness on the part of the government in cutting the transit work force.
Andrews said some of the routing problems can be blamed on poor scheduling but she said there has also been a higher-than normal instance of Vitran workers calling in sick. "Employees who have been retained are now sending in sick slips," she said.
The performance of the remaining work force was also expected to come up as a topic at the Tuesday meeting, Andrews said.