When the Streetcar was first built, IBEW Local 53 was on hand to build out the overhead DC line system that propels the streetcars. Now that the new extension to the streetcar which will span approximately three miles, Local 53 is expecting to go to work on the overhead system that will be used to propel the streetcars all the way from the riverfront to UMKC. In between those construction jobs the Local has been busy attempting to organize the non-union drivers and technicians that drive and work on the streetcars. Joe Coddington, Local 53 Union Organizer, was key with this organizing campaign. That organizing effort recently paid off when after nearly a year of negotiating, IBEW Local 53 ratified a new contract with Herzog that will give new benefits to the approximately 26 employees currently working as drivers or technicians for the Streetcar.
The new contract will last five years, the same length of Herzogs contract with the Streetcar. With this first contract, employees will now have representation and will no longer face layoffs or firing without a fair hearing. In addition, they will get extra personal days off, pay and seniority.
Allen Dixon, Business Representa-tive for Local 53, who will represent these new members, said it took over a year and a half to negotiate the contract with Herzog. “We started in January of 2019 and we didn’t ratify a contract until October of 2020.” Dixon added, “It wasn’t so much that they were difficult, it was more the pandemic and how much it impacted timelines on getting together and such.” Dixon wanted to point out the great job that the negotiating committee did and while performing during these very difficult times. “Brett Stone, Lavail Harrington and David Valdiva worked tirelessly for the members and I want to thank them for their efforts and hard work on these lengthy negotiations.” Eric Williams, Business Manager for IBEW Local 53, wanted to thank everyone involved and specifically the three new stewards who will represent workers at the streetcar. Those three include, Operator, Lavail Harrington; Operator, Greta Erhardt, and Technician, David Valdiva. “Their work will get busier once the streetcar extension is completed and the size of the staff could double in size,” Williams added.Published