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City approves previously denied transit contract

In a special emergency session held Tuesday night, Williamsport City Council approved a workers’ contract it had rejected last week.

The 4-3 vote to accept the agreement with River Valley Transit and its Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1496 calls for a 14 percent pay increase over five years.

Councilman Jon Mackey, who voted against the contract last week, changed his vote to yes.

Others voting yes were Randall Allison, Liz Miele and David Banks.

Voting no once again were Bonnie Katz, Vincent Pulizzi and Adam Yoder.

Council voted unanimously in favor of two amendments to the contract covering newly hired employees.

No longer will health insurance be extended to those employees when they retire and they must maintain residency in the city.

Mackey said after the vote that he believed the contract was a good one for both sides.

“But I stand by my comment that the city of Williamsport needs to get out of the lifetime benefits business,” he said. “This is a good first step.”

The contract includes 3 percent pay hikes for each of the first three years of the agreement and an overall 5 percent increase for the last two years.

A sticking point with the agreement involved the pay hike at a time when COVID-19 is straining finances of many businesses and residents.

“Even though the union did come back with what they did, when it comes to the whole contract we still have to be careful how money is spent,” Katz said. “Over the years, unions have cost us a lot of money.”

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