The Ottumwa Courier


September 16, 2013

Driving a hard bargain


To continue that one example, drivers in other districts average five days of paid bereavement leave; Southern Iowa Transit has offered one paid day, two unpaid days. The union asked for three paid days. There are other issues, too, but none are insurmountable, said Jon Thomas, a business agent and organizer for Teamsters Local 238.

"We believe that the union, the Teamsters, have bargained in good faith and tried to come to a reasonable resolution, and we have not been able to reach that resolution," he said. "We feel that if the company sits down and bargains in good faith on Wednesday, we won't have any disruption in services."

When asked what he'd like to tell the public, Southern Iowa Transit co-owner Jerry Kjer said he and his business partner are ready to meet with driver representatives.

"Do know that we want to see this resolved, and we remain optimistic and positive," said Kjer. "We are of the hope that we will get a resolution; my partner and I have invested a lot of time in negotiations and have made what we feel is our best offer, and they rejected that. But, as I said, we're still optimistic we can reach an agreement without [negotiations] having any adverse impact on day-to-day operations."

As far as resources go, Kjer said, there's only so much Southern Iowa Transit has available to use for operating the service. Their contract with the district is fixed for the next two years. They can't call their customer and ask for more money.

Yet money isn't necessarily the obstacle some people think it is. At least, not the overall payroll amount.

"Where we are now on negotiations is not necessarily money," said Thomas. "It's the attendance policy, leave of absence and how the money is distributed."

By how the money is distributed, he said, he means that the "pool" of money in the payroll is not the issue.

"It's how it's distributed to the 28 drivers."

The two parties are scheduled to meet Wednesday.

— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark

Text Only
  • 0710 OTT Bulldogs update color photo -L -M High school students lead Bulldog charge

    OTTUMWA — Two Ottumwa High School students gave their very first press conference Wednesday morning to share their progress on decorating Ottumwa with large bulldog statues. Alyssa Cash and Madyson Feather joined Main Street Ottumwa Executive Directo

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Smart snacks color photo -M -L Schools adopt new food regulations

    OTTUMWA — This fall, students across the country will find big changes in the cafeteria, but Ottumwa kids may find they approve of the changes. The new "Smart Snacks in School" standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) went in

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Survey finds math, science grads earn top dollar WASHINGTON (AP) — It seems to matter less whether your alma mater is public or private than what you study — math and science in particular — when it comes to finding a high-paying job after college, according to a report released Tuesday by the Educ

    July 8, 2014

  • Pekin and Tri-County to share superintendent PACKWOOD — Both Pekin and Tri-County Community School Districts have voted to approve Operational Sharing Incentives for superintendent during the 2014-15 school year. During the 2014 legislative session, the Legislature passed and the governor signe

    July 2, 2014

  • Teaching the teachers

    OTTUMWA — The community has formally advised the school district that strong teachers lead to strong students. Now Ottumwa teachers have "coaches" to help them boost educational muscle. Though the idea is now formalized under a Legislative state plan

    May 29, 2014

  • 0525 OTT OHS graduation web-color photo 3 OHS seniors say farewell OTTUMWA - Sunday marked the end of high school for all the graduating seniors from Ottumwa High School. Family and friends of the students packed the Bridge View Center, leaving standing room only for late-comers. You could feel the excitement in the

    May 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • Slideshow: OHS graduation

    May 25, 2014

  • 0524 OTT OCS graduation web-color photo 3 Small ceremony for big achievements OTTUMWA - Saturday was a special day for the four seniors graduating from Ottumwa Christian School. This small graduating class is double the size of last year's class and illustrates the small-group learning style of the school. Family and friends o

    May 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Slideshow: Ottumwa Christian graduation

    May 24, 2014

  • IHCC partners with WPU OTTUMWA -- Indian Hills Community College and William Penn University have announced a partnership that should provide a seamless academic progression for nurses who choose to enroll in a RN-BSN program after receiving their registered nursing licens

    May 23, 2014

AP National