Management & Operations

Pennsylvania labor, management join forces in training partnership

Posted on April 1, 2004

Rapid advances in technology, skill shortages and maintenance job vacancies are challenges that face the transit industry regardless of region. To address these issues, several Pennsylvania agencies have come together in an unprecedented partnership effort. Initially involving only Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and its principal union, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234, the Keystone Transit Career Ladder Partnership emerged in December 2001. By July 2002, the program expanded statewide to include other major cities, like Pittsburgh, as well as smaller outlying communities. But its expansion and even creation were not without roadblocks. In any industry, labor and management relations historically stand on fragile ground. Transit is no different. In Philadelphia, for example, a 40-day strike in 1998 shattered nearly all goodwill between SEPTA and TWU. However, with updates in maintenance skills and career advancement opportunities sorely lacking, whatever suspicions and mistrust that existed between the two then have been set aside. “Labor and management have to agree on how to spend the money in their area,” said Dr. Robert G. Garraty, statewide project coordinator for the Keystone partnership. “Where you have really bad relationships, sometimes that makes it more difficult. The transit industry is very heavily unionized.” In its first year (through June 2002), Keystone received a $718,000 federal grant, disbursed to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry through the U.S. Department of Labor. When the program broadened, it received more than $1.2 million. Eventually, with more agencies involved, this budget was allocated according to a transit property’s workforce percentage. For example, because 59% of the state’s transit workers were employed by SEPTA, it received 59% of the funds. Keystone’s first-year goal was to train 107 workers in Philadelphia. Instead, 134 went through the program. Its second-year goal was to train 300 Philadelphia employees and 75 statewide. The final tallies were 785 and 125, respectively. Additionally, statistics prior to the training reported that 53% of SEPTA’s bus mechanic trainees passed the practical exam. As of now, about 84% are passing the exam, many garnering promotions. According to Garraty, the partnership essentially is to “help people move up the ladder.” Labor unions were seeing an increase in contract work, which occurred due to what management officials saw as a lack of skills within their own staff. As a result, extensive skill-gap analysis research and surveys were conducted to determine which types of support training were needed most. Bus mechanic training was the focus during Keystone’s early days. Courses covered electricity, electronics, air conditioning, preventive maintenance and brakes. Rail, underground, elevator/escalator, millwrights and electricians training have since been added. Instruction is provided free and is taught by agency training instructors and specialized outside vendors. An added incentive is that Keystone also reimburses employers 50% of their employees’ salaries while they attend courses. The Keystone partnership is part of a national effort originally crafted by the nonprofit, Silver Spring, Md.-based Community Transportation Development Center. The center, which receives federal money, has developed similar career ladder partnerships in New York, San Francisco, Miami and, most recently, Houston.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Connect Transit receives state funds, avoids shutdown

The agency announced Thursday that the payment of almost $1.9 million covers the time period of July 2016 through September 2016 and is part of a nearly $17.6 million transfer to the Downstate Public Transportation Fund.

APTA names new chief counsel

Linda C. Ford currently serves as associate administrator of the FTA's Office of Civil Rights.

Report: Public transit, cities should learn from San Francisco Muni hack

WIRED said American public transit systems, which make daily life possible for millions, are an easy target, since many are aging and underfunded, with barely enough money to keep the trains running, let alone invest in IT security upgrades.

Ill. agency reduces night service to deal with lack of state funding

The roughly $180,000 in cost savings from the night service reductions for the Springfield Mass Transit District are less than one third of what is already being done while SMTD awaits delayed payments and a clearer budget picture from the state.

U. of Minn. study finds transit does not improve health

Previous studies have found that citizens in areas with more transit options have a lower BMI because transit use also includes walking and biking, however, using BMI for that conclusion doesn’t account for commuters who may eat fast food every day or substitute buses and trains for walking from place to place.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close