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Drivers of GrapeLine, Dial-A-Ride join union

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Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2008 10:00 pm

Lodi's bus drivers are now union members.

Following months of divisive rhetoric, alleged racial slurs and even "union busting," 38 GrapeLine and Dial-A-Ride drivers have joined the Sacramento-based Amalgamated Transit Union Local 256.

Though they drive city buses, the workers are not city employees. They're employed by Fairfield-based MV Transportation.

Union supporters say joining ATM Local 256 has already boosted wages and benefits, and will safeguard worker's rights.

"Those people in Lodi, those drivers, are going to become happier. And they're going to end up career drivers … in the long run, the city of Lodi is going to benefit," said Vincent Contino, president of Stockton-based ATU Local 276, who helped lead the union effort in Lodi.

Leaders with MV Transportation say they never opposed workers joining a union. It was the "scare tactics" and misinformation used by union supporters that frustrated them, said Nikki Frenney, a company spokeswoman.

"We don't have an adversarial relationship with the unions," she added.

The bus drivers held a vote in November on whether to join the union. But because they tied, 20 to 20, the effort failed.

Union organizers, however, appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, claiming the transit company had coerced workers not to join the union.

The labor board ruled April 1 in favor of the union. That allowed for last month's new and successful vote.

Contino, the union organizer, claimed "union busters" were brought in last fall to intimidate pro-union drivers and even followed some employees home. Signs reading "No Union" were also displayed at work sites, he said.

Unions or employee associations represent 420 city of Lodi workers, or about 95 percent of the total, noted Jeff Hood, city spokesman. The MV Transit workers, who are private employees, recently gained their own union representation.

The city's union groups include:

  • Fire mid-management
  • General services
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Lodi Professional Firefighters
  • Maintenance and operators
  • Mid-management
  • Police dispatchers
  • Police Officers' Association

    Source: City of Lodi

MV Transportation has denied the allegations.

Teresa Farmer, a GrapeLine driver who led union efforts in Lodi, said she's "proud" to be part of ATU once again.

Farmer began driving buses in 1970 for the city of Stockton. She said the union took care of its workers then and will now.

She added that drivers who had opposed the union will be very pleased when their pay is increased.

Without the union's bargaining power, Farmer said she would have waited several years before seeing a raise - something MV denies.

MV Transportation starts its Lodi drivers at $12.25 per hour, according to company records.

Contino, the Stockton-based union organizer, said Lodi drivers have already seen a $0.95 per hour increase in pay.

Frenney, the transit company spokeswoman, said she could not confirm that.

MV Transportation's contract with the city is up for renewal this spring. The company, along with Paris-based Veolia Transit, has submitted a bid for the job.

City spokesman Jeff Hood said the contract could be awarded late this month.

He added that the city does not expect bus fares to rise because of the union issue.

Contact reporter Chris Nichols at chrisn@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 4:00 am on Fri, May 9, 2008.


    Unions need to go the way of the eight track player. In the present global ecomony they are just a racket. They have effectively forced the cost of "Made In America" goods to unrealistic prices forcing manufacturers to seek services from less expensive labor nations. The cost? American jobs and American dollars in the pockets of foreign nations.

  • posted at 12:05 pm on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    Well Miss Daisey! I have just one word to say in response to what I have read you posting! "Quit"!

  • posted at 12:04 pm on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    You crack me up papercut but guess what? I know who you really are!

  • posted at 12:03 pm on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    There are driver who I refuse to ride their buses unless I am forced to by destination simply because I let them know I was anti-union as a passenger. So Be it! Other drivers refuse to talk to me and I could care less! I am a paying passenger and have a right to my opinion as much as some of the whining drivers who bellyached since they have come to this bus company!

  • posted at 12:01 pm on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    Hey newsguy!The union brought in Union drivers harassing and intimidating drivers to join, appealing to their "DREAMS of 30 day paid vACATIONS, full time SHIFTS FOR EVERYONE, NO CHANCE OF BEING TERMINATED... All the while getting in the way of us paying passengers who needed to get on or off buses! If Union members had a legal right to present one side of the equation of Unions in bus companies, management had the right to present the other side of the eauation. It's called maintaining a balance. Continued...

  • posted at 11:53 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    In simple terms I see the UNION being passed because of those drivers who whine constantly, and think they are ENTITLED to $20.00 an hour to drive a bus! Sorry, those who voted Union will get no "Pat on their backs from me"! If they wanted a Union that bad they should have quit and went to work in Stockton! End of story!

  • posted at 11:51 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    This is no longer a family of friendly drivers or SOME DRIVERS toward passengers! You drivers are being deducted Union fees each paycheck and must PAY the union to opt out! Oh what a great deal! The union will NOT do anything beneficial for drivers for years so I hope you will enjoy your smaller paychecks! If a driver CANNOT afford to go on strike, the striking drivers will turn against that driver and all the UNION FEES deducted each paycheck, were obviously for nothing! I wish the UNION would have been voted down.

  • posted at 11:48 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    I pretty much ride the city buses 7 days a week for the last 4 years so I have a right to stick my nose into some of the drivers wanting to be unionized! As a passenger, sooner or later Union DEMANDS vs. the management WILL turn into a STRIKE! This DIRECTLY affects my ability to ride the buses because some drivers will strike, and others just can't afford to go on strike. Second, since this CRAP about a Union began last year, drivers have turned against drivers, and drivers against passengers! Continued...

  • posted at 10:50 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    Notsuckedinlodi, it seems the NLRB ruled that there indeed was harassment and intimidation against MV and their puppets, such as yourself. Why would they otherwise demand a second election? And why did your city leaders and MVnot release the information to your local paper? Ordid they just bother not to print it because the vote to unionize made them look like fools after they tried everything, including cheating and intimidation to keep the union out and the profits up? Just what's wrong with bringing decent paying jobs to Lodi? I'm sure MV will find a job for thosewhodon't like theunion.

  • posted at 8:24 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    I know of a driver who had an accident and was cited by the police. They got no discipline. Another driver was suspended for 2 weeks for something they did not do, they voted for the union. NOBODY DISPUTES THE NEED OR VALUE OF BUS SERVICE. I USE IT! To deny sleazy tactics is another matter. Re: the safety issue, there are witnesses to MV's total lack of concern and I certainly hope the City Council hears about it. THAT PERSON SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED!!!!

  • posted at 6:57 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    NO WORKERS were fired because of their involvement with the union. PEOPLE were fired because of their OWN ACTIONS. PEOPLE need to understand that a union does not protect you from being fired if you break the RULES. and yes this union had some very bad tactics. I am PROUD to work for MV Transportation, and PROUD to serve the citizens of Lodi who use this service. WITHOUT this service LODI's elderly and disabled would not be able to do the things they need, Doctor visits, picking up medications, Grocery shopping and so on.

  • posted at 6:49 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    I have worked for MV in lodi for nearly 2 1/2 years and the things that you people are writing are completly UNTRUE. the article isnt even CORRECT. there was no vote the second time around. MV LODI already paid wages in lodi that were higher than many union shops of compareable size. ALL workers were offered benefit packages. and NO BUSES were driven while UNSAFE for our passengers. NO WORKERS were followed home by the supposed UNION BUSTERS. Although workers who were against the union had people show up on there doorsteps.

  • posted at 6:32 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    Thanks papercut. There's got to be a lot of profit. Some drivers hadn't gotten raises in 4 years, they showed me their checks. Money wasn't the main issue in all this. It was favoritism, turning a blind eye,etc. Sleazy way to run things if you ask me.Does the head of MV buy his cars,boats,clothes, groceries here in town? I doubt it. The economy is bad enough. Keep our money here for jobs,tax base, etc. I hope this doesn't turn into a good-old boy thing like Stockton's done with builders.

  • posted at 5:20 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    Ms. Frenney needs to attend denial school. If she's indeed their spokesman and can't offer some kind of explanation, then she's the one that should be fired.

  • posted at 5:18 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    Miss Daisy, Lodi subs out these contracts for a fraction of what the feds allot them and then they put the extra money in their own pockets. There's never been a public statement with the ridership figures, which are very low and not even enough to support this transit system. It's just another one of those pork money grabs created by our own bureaucracy. Please, News-Sentinel, how about an article on the true ridership numbers and the actual dollar figures of how much the transit system loses each year? And how much the city and general fund funnel& profit.

  • posted at 4:42 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    What was the new vote? Was it 38-0 in favor of the union?

  • posted at 4:19 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    I ride the bus and I do know that some of the people who supported the union were fired or left MV because their work hours were cut. Recent changes to the service were not communicated. I think the City Council should look very closely at giving out such high profit contracts,especially to companies that showlack of regard to the citizens of Lodi. REVEAL THE NUMBERS! I want the safety issue explained at the City Council meeting, before the bid award!!!

  • posted at 3:28 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    MV is one of those vulturous corporations that sub-contract transportation services out for cities to allow both themselves and the city to make profits at the taxpayers expense. Those profits are normally at the expense of their employees and the low wage, no benefit practices of companies like these.If the NLRB ruled in favor of the union, there must've been some damning evidence that MV intimidated certain parties. Of course, I wouldn't expect the whole and true story from this paper. How dare the union come to Lodi and offer these employees a decent paying job with benefits&job security?

  • posted at 2:53 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    MV is using taxpayers money to fight against the citizens of Lodi...who work for their company. The money that was spent on hiring union busters could have been saved and refunded back to the city.

  • posted at 1:52 am on Fri, May 2, 2008.


    It's laughable MV denies opposing the union drive. They spent thousands of dollars bringing in people to coerce workers. Single women were even followed home at night. Worse, when an MV supervisor was told of a dangerous safety defect on a bus, her response was " it's not my problem." The callous lack of concern for passengers and pedestrians alike is most disturbing. Shame on them.



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