Niagara Gazette

January 29, 2008

NFTA: Unions get contracts

189 NFTA officers and service and maintenance employees will benefit

By Dan Miner/minerd@gnnewspaper.com

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority finalized collective bargaining agreements with two unions Monday — meaning 189 employees have guaranteed raises for the next three years.

“It gives us a degree of certainty as to what our labor cost will be in both these areas for the next three years,” said Lawrence Meckler, NFTA executive director. “It helps us budget and helps us put programs and plans together.”

The unions, the NFTA Police Benevolent Association and International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1949, have employees which work between all of the NFTA’s facilities, including the Niagara Falls International Airport, Niagara Falls transportation centers and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The PBA — which represents 76 law enforcement officers at NFTA facilities — had been without a contract since April 2007. The longshoremen — which represent 113 service and maintenance employees at NFTA facilities — had been without one since April 2006.

The agreements mean that all 13 NFTA unions are under contract.

“It helps morale and productivity and efficiency because nobody’s negotiating,” Meckler said. “Nobody’s waiting for contracts to be settled.”

PBA members will receive a series of raises of every year, beginning with two percent in April 2007 and ending with three percent in April 2010. In return for higher raises, new employees will contribute 10 percent of their medical insurance premiums. NFTA PBA members have always been fully covered until now, Meckler said.

PBA President Dave Krzemien called the negotiations even and said he’s looking forward to an open working relationship with the NFTA.

“We’d still like the money to be a little higher, but we’re confident we’ll get there,” he said. “It means a lot to our guys. It took a lot less time to settle the contract than it did in past years.”

The longshoremen will receive a series of raises lower than what the PBA received.