The members of Local 1596, Charlotte, N.C., have ratified a new three-year deal with Transit Management of Charlotte (CATS) by an overwhelming margin.

UTU represents bus mechanics on the property.

Major advances were made in job classifications and job protection, with a guarantee of no employee layoffs for 15 months following the ratification date.

UTU members also received a signing bonus, wage increases with guarantees, increases in tool allowances and company-supplied winter clothing.

Increases in the agency’s portion of contributions to the employee pension plan and agency maintenance of medical benefits were also part of the deal.

I congratulate General Chairperson Alvy Hughes, Vice Local Chairperson Craig Patch, Local Committee of Adjustment Secretary James Hinton Jr. and Secretary and Treasurer Anthony Sandle for their patience and hard work throughout the negotiations.

I assisted these fine local officers with negotiations, but these local officers and other members of the committee did an outstanding job from start to finish. It was a privilege to work with such a hard working and dedicated group of members.

Despite sales tax revenue for the months of November and December being down 25 percent and 15 percent respectively, ridership and fare revenue are up on this property. CATS says year-to-date through the first seven months of fiscal 2009, ridership has increased 25.8 percent and fare revenue rose 53 percent. That’s good for the job security of these hard-working members.