The employee union of the Capital Area Transit System scored a recent victory in its ongoing feud with CEO Bob Mirabito this week when an arbitration hearing determined Mirabito acted inappropriately when he previously suspended four employees.
In February, several CATS employees picketed outside of the Florida Boulevard terminal complaining that the buses were unsafe and that Mirabito was treating employees poorly and refusing to abide by the union contract.
The next day, Mirabito suspended four employees for picketing because he said they had not given appropriate notice for missing their shifts. The employees complained that they had the right, as outlined in their union contracts, to take off work to protest the administration.
The four union leaders were suspended without pay for three days.
This week, the arbitration came out in favor of the union members. The suspensions were removed from their records and they will be given back pay for the days they were off.
Union president Katie Guy, who was among those suspended, said she felt validated by the ruling.
Mirabito said via an email from his assistant Amie McNaylor that the issue of contention was that employees did not give what he considered “reasonable notice” before taking leave. He said a definition of “reasonable notice” will need to be established and agreed on by both parties, but short of that, the contract deferred to past practice when employees had been allowed to give less than two days notice.
In June, Mirabito had another altercation with the union when he started contract negotiations by firing a bus operator Alfred Weeden. The union called it an act of intimidation and refused to begin negotiations that day.
A grievance process was initiated, which led to Weeden being reinstated — another win for the union.
Guy said Thursday that they are in the midst of union negotiations. She said relationships with the administration have improved slightly, but are not “100 percent better.”