BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NEW CITY – Workers with Brega Transportaation Corporation announced legal proceedings against their employer this week at the Rockland County Legislature, petitioning the lawmaking body to assist them in securing contractually-promised healthcare from their employer.
Representatives of the United Transportaation Union announced to the legislature on Tuesday that they believe Brega had not fulfilled its end of contract bargain guaraanteeing medical coverage to employees. Specifically, concerns had been raised about the discontinuance of medical insurance since the awarding county bus contracts to Brega last year.
“You need to know that currently, those employees are being harmed.” UTU representative Bonnie Moor said.=
Brega President Richard Brega, who regularly attends legislative sessions, responded to the claims by saying the negotiations and lines of communication were ongoing. He also argued the company was not neglecting healthcare and had offered to pay 50 percent of the union’s COBRA costs during negotiations.
“If the union didn’t take advantage of this, I don’t know what we’re supposed to do,” Brega said.
But according to Moor, negotiations scheduled earlier that week were cancelled, forcing the UTU into arbitration with Brega. The union had been approved in mid-February and was not at issue, but they argued Brega had been dragging its heels on medical coverage.
UTU State Director Samuel Nasca said the union was more than willing to work with the county, but warned that as a receiver of federal benefits, the county might be liable for Brega’s alleged inaction.
“If Mr. Brega does not provide these protections and benefits, the responsibility will flow to Rockland County,” Nasca said.
Following a long legal battle over the contract bidding process, Brega was declared the lowest responsible bidder for the county’s bus contracts in 2013. Shortly thereafter, it had entered negotiations with the UTU and agreed to union protections for its employees.
The union also brought transportation workers forward to explain the effects of the delays. Employee Thomas Bruce echoed Moor’s statement that workers were being forced to avoid healthcare at the cost of their own safety, while Helaine Parsons argued the negotiations were ongoing, but seemed to be stalling.
“Now since we’re in negotiations, they’re going very slow,” Parsons said. “They’re being dragged out.”