COLTS Board Ratifies Bus Driver Contract
SCRANTON — Lackawanna County’s public bus drivers and staff who fix buses and dispatch them could soon have a new contract with raises. The County of Lackawanna Transit System board voted 4-0 Tuesday with one member absent to approve a new contract, pending the final resolution of two language issues with the union that represents about 70 drivers, dispatchers and mechanics. Because the deal’s language remains incomplete, COLTS and union officials declined to release other details, but officials acknowledged it contains pay raises. Mark Gifford, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 168, which represents the workers, said the union will vote on the contract next week, but the day remains uncertain. Gifford declined to say if union negotiators will recommend members vote yes, but said he considers the new contract a fair deal. “It’s going to straighten some financial woes out (for union members),” Gifford said. The union and COLTS officials agreed to negotiate the deal long before the present one expires June 30. The two sides met once for about 12 hours and negotiated in three other telephone calls. COLTS Executive Director Robert Fiume said COLTS and the union agreed to early negotiations to resolve some lingering issues. He declined to identify them, but said the issues’ resolutions would take effect before the current contract expires. “We saw that if we could do it sooner, we could be more efficient,” Fiume said. The COLTS board also honored three bus drivers — Sean Tompkins, Arthur Levandoski and Michael Brown — with certificates of appreciation. Tompkins, a shared-ride driver, spotted a 5-year-old boy who wandered away from home without his mother’s knowledge April 20, and helped reunite them. In July, Tompkins also won first place in the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association paratransit rodeo, which pits shared-ride drivers from across the state in a driving skills competition. Tompkins finished third last year. Levandoski, a fixed-route driver, spotted two young children in the middle of Providence Road on July 13, and ensured they got off the road safely by stopping his bus, getting out and stopping oncoming traffic. Brown, also a fixed-route driver, helped authorities find Frederick Palmer, a man missing from the Green Ridge Manor assisted living center in mid-July. Brown, who recognized Palmer from a picture police made available, spotted him sitting at the Lackawanna Transit Center, COLTS spokeswoman Gretchen Wintermantel said. Contact the writer: email@example.com; 570-348-9147; @BorysBlogTT on Twitter.