CATA struggling to reach agreement with union

Union workers are planning a protest Tuesday to draw attention to the lack of a new deal.
CATA union contract runs out Thursday
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 7:47 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The CEO of CATA says he won’t negotiate publicly, days before the bus service’s union contract runs out. Union workers are planning a protest Tuesday to draw attention to the lack of a new deal.

CATA workers will be out on the streets as negotiations go on between the union and the organization. The union is accusing the CATA of mismanaging money, while the CEO tells News 10 it’s a sign the union is flailing.

Steve Soliz is a member of ATU Local 1039.

Soliz said, “We’ve made very real offers and very real compromises and proposals that have not been accepted.”

The current contract between CATA and its workers expired in November of 2019. There have been bridge agreements since. It’s set to expire again on Thursday and union workers aren’t happy with the way it’s going.

Soliz said, “They’re asking for changes in contracts that are 40 and 50 years old.”

Part of the issue is something called a zipper clause. The union says it would take away the unions right to bargain over policy changes. The union says CATA shouldn’t be tightening its budget, and that they have plenty of money to continue paying workers with the same pay structure.

The union also says the organization has wasted $60 million in emergency funding on expensive office furniture and attorneys.

Soliz said, “A lot of money has been spent on things other than COVID-related items.”

We’ve picked up the receipts for CEO Brad Funkhouser’s office furniture, far from $60 million; More like $2,698 and change. The receipts says the furniture was half off, too.

Funkhouser said, “I think they’re out of time and they are trying to bring down my credibility.”

CATA is looking to change overtime hours as well.

“I’m not going to get into the specifics of the contract negotiations because I think it’s imperative that the union, negotiate this contract at the table,” Funkhouser said. “And what I will tell you is that the public was very clear that they wanted to curb excessive overtime and excessive salaries on some drivers and we’ve done both of those in the last year.’

Funkhouser says it’s his number one priority to reach an agreement before Thursday. Meanwhile, CATA workers say they’ll be out protesting in the morning.

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