Friday, May 28, 2010

Bus drivers still speaking out

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 8:52 AM

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For a lot of us, the city's huge reduction in bus service at the start of the year — and the major layoffs that accompanied it — is a distant memory.

But people who rely on buses haven't forgotten. And neither have all the out-of-work bus drivers that the city contracted for services with for decades. Some of those drivers plan to hand out fliers at 26th Street and West Vermijo Avenue (near Vermijo Park) on Monday.

Here's the text of the fliers:

A few of us displaced transit workers here in Colorado Springs have grown tired of waiting for lawyers, politicians and union officials to take visible action against the city os Colorado Springs, as WE RISK LOOSING OUR HOMES AND OTHER POSSESSIONS, so we have decided to start a grass roots campaign to expose our mistreatment by the city goverment. This is why on Memorial Day we will be educating the people of Colorado Springs by passing out the following news letter to the people of Colorado Springs. Knowledge is power and the pen is mightier than the sword.

In 1974 the city of Colorado Springs acquired transit from a private company that was facing bankruptcy. With the city operating transit federal monies were available to assist with the operating cost of transit. With these federal funds came an agreement between the city, federal department of labor and the transit workers union (Amalgamated Transit Union, locally ATU #19). This agreement referred to as the 13 C agreement has certain protections for transit workers was signed by the then members of the city council.
In 2004 the city and county proposed question 1A on the ballot to create a transportation authority and add 1% to the sales tax, which would be used for roads, bridges and public transit improvements. The city and county asked the then Springs Transit employees to assist in getting the word out about question 1A . After being told that transit would expand 2 - 3 times. Transit employees stood on street corners with signs on their own time and put bumper stickers on their vehicles supporting 1A. In Nov. 2004 question 1A was approved by voters and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority was created. Also in 2004 the Front Range Express and Free Downtown Shuttle were created. The employees of Springs Transit put up with used equipment that constantly broke down to operate these new programs, only to see these programs go to the other 2 entities that were created under the PPRTA.
In 2005 the PPRTA created a separate entity to operate any new transit services. They hired several persons who had been terminated from Springs Transit for various reasons. This meant double management, staff and facility cost. These PPRTA transit employees were hired at lower wages and had higher benefit cost than those employees with Springs Transit.
As time past (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009) the city began to move routes, including the Front Range Express and Downtown Shuttle to the new PPRTA transit entities and shrink the older Springs Transit. I forgot to mention that the city or PPRTA moved the Front Express to the contractor who has mobility (handicapped transportation entity) and had to move them to a larger facility to accommodate the larger FREX buses. So, now there are 3 transit facilities where they used to be 2. I know this makes perfect economic senses. The city says this was due to budget restraints but in reality the city hoped to dissolve the transit workers union, rid themselves of the Springs Transit employees retirement plan and get cheaper labor. The PPRTA entity employees have a 401k plan, higher benefit cost and lower wages.
In 2009 the city cut bus services and began an aggressive campaign to close the Springs Transit facility. Which in December 2009 they managed to do.
This put over 200 transit employees with 4 - 30 + years of service onto the unemployment lines and left many people stranded without public transportation to use. Of course over the years the city has wasted taxpayers money hiring consultants to help figure out how to fix transit, but they never asked (at little or no cost) the transit employees who know the problems and had suggestions to fix transit (I guess we were to far beneath them). Now the city is asking the federal government for money to help them out with transit. I have written to Senator Michael Bennet telling him what this city council has done and asked him to hold off on any federal money without investigating the waste first. I mentioned the 13C agreement at the beginning of this, while the city is in court fighting with the transit workers union (ATU) and the federal department of labor trying to say they should not be held to this agreement. But of course they have their hand out for more federal money. Most of the Transit facility on Transit Drive sits empty now as a property owner near N. Hancock collects rent for the PPRTA facility. City officials will tell that this is because the contractor First Transit doesn’t desire to move, why then back in (I believe it was) 2008 did both transit entities operate out of the facilities on Transit Dr. for about 3 or 4 months? Then the PPRTA entity was moved back to the facility on N. Hancock. There were even renovations made to the facilities on Transit Dr to accommodate both Transit entities. I cannot say positively, but I heard it might have something to do with the Springs Transit employees retirement plan. As for the 2 modular trailers that the city paid rent for on Transit Drive, these were only needed after the city moved the Springs Transit employees out of the facility at 1015 Transit Dr. that was built with federal funds and had housed all transit operations after being built. Once again money was wasted by city transit officials.
If this isn’t depressing enough, we are stuck under Colorado statues with the PPRTA, we cannot petition to rid ourselves of this mistake. If you didn’t know them here are your PPRTA members, for Colorado Springs, Chairperson Vice Mayor Larry Small, Mayor Lionel Rivera, Jan Martin and Scott Hente (alternate). Manitou Springs, Mayor Marc Snyder and Ingrid Richter. El Paso county Vice Chairperson Commissioner Sallie Clark, Commissioner Dennis Hisey, Commissioner Wayne Williams, Commissioner Jim Bensberg (alternate) and Commissioner Amy Lathen (alternate). Remember when you see these names on a ballot that pot hole you hit on the way to the polls. I would like to see an empty seat in government than an uncaring, greedy, self centered idiot in that seat.


REMEMBER UNITED WE STAND / DIVIDED WE SUFFER


Like our countries founders who were determine to free themselves from a tirant, we are determined to free ourselves of the tirants of the Colorado Springs citY goverment. As our founders put it on a flag "DON'T TREAD ON ME" !!!! And as Commander John Paul Jones said as he faced a British war ship almost twice the size of his own "I HAVE ONLY JUST BEGAN TO FIGHT"!!!!

Jim Gosse

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