Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA)

Elise Thatcher

More workers at the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority may be joining a union. Sixteen operations supervisors with RFTA say they’re interested in either starting their own chapter, or joining one created this spring by full time bus drivers. About half of supervisors also spend some working hours behind the wheel.

 

Elise Thatcher

Residents in the Roaring Fork Valley pedaled their support for Colorado’s bike to work day yesterday. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher stopped by a RFTA booth with fortification for riders.

rfta.com

  The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will decide in September whether to approve an updated approach for preserving its rail corridor. RFTA’s Board of Directors had planned on voting on the matter this summer, but instead they’ll delay and spend more time addressing questions and concerns.

Elise Thatcher

A new bus drivers’ union in the area is stretching its wings. Full time drivers with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority voted in February to start a local chapter of a national transit worker union. Ed Cortez is the President and business agent for the Aspen Local 774 of the Amalgamated Transit Union He sat down with Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher to talk about where the union is now.

Good afternoon, it’s Mountain Edition.

RFTA gets millions for more parking, service, and facilities.

A Basalt woman is sentenced for causing a fatal accident last August.

Aspen Skiing Company and pro skier Alice McKennis look back on the season.

There’s a new book about Glenwood Springs history.

A nonprofit aims to restore part of the Crystal River in Carbondale.

And we find out about the country’s biggest conservation effort ever and a bird here in Colorado.

That’s ahead on Mountain Edition.

Welcome to Valley Roundup, a review of the top news stories in the valley in the past week.

RFTA bus drivers voted to unionize this week. It looks like better wages are on the horizon.

What can be done, if anything, about the valley’s dwindling workforce, low wages and high cost of living?

Meanwhile, over-use of the national forest is once again at the forefront of conversation. Expect to see more rangers patroling the Hanging Lake trail in Glenwood Canyon.

President Obama has recommended that police officers around the country wear body cameras. Is that necessary here?

And elected officials on the lower end of the valley are wondering whether they should continue to protect the Rio Grande trail for a future rail line.

Joining this week are Curtis Wackerle, Managing Editor of the Aspen Daily News, Randy Essex, Editor of the Glenwood Post Independent and Brent Gardner-Smith, executive director of Aspen Journalism and Michael Miracle, editor of Aspen Sojourner magazine.

Facebook/RFTA

There's few unions in the Roaring Fork Valley-- and now, there's another.Full-time bus drivers with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority have voted to unionize. Ballots were counted in Denver on Wednesday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The final count didn’t begin until the mail arrived late at Colorado’s labor agency after 3pm. Heavy snow had delayed the delivery. Driver Ed Cortez was waiting breathlessly, with a representative of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Roaring Fork Transit Authority

Full time bus drivers with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority have voted to unionize. Ballots were counted in Denver today by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The agency has confirmed the results. 65 drivers voted for unionization, with 22 against.

Roaring Fork Transit Authority

Full time bus drivers for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority are voting on whether to unionize. If approved, it would be the first time in more than a decade for drivers to be a part of a union. 

Ed Cortez was selected by other bus drivers to lead the union vote. He’s been a full time driver for two and a half years, and describes what it was like getting behind the wheel. 

“Well, initially I was very nervous, very intimidated. Slowly but surely I realized that I really loved driving.”

A big reason is getting to know riders from all backgrounds-- from regular folks to politicians.

Your Morning News - February 13th, 2015

Feb 13, 2015

Less Snow Means Less Green for Businesses

Aspen saw its second driest January in nearly a hundred years. February so far has also been dry and warm. For businesses who make a lot of money on snow, it’s been a tough go of it.

 

“I’ve been in the snow removal business for 28 years, and really never seen this long a dry spell before,” says Will Vannice.

 

He owns Daly Properties in Basalt. He and his workers usually remove snow and ice for commercial properties, and business is down about 350 percent. Vannice says the company will probably make it through OK, as long as he keeps spending to a minimum. But it’s harder on the workers.

 

“We have 6 salaried positions here and they just cut 30% of their salary out until the first of April,” he says.

 

Further up valley, Glenn Loper is owner of Groundskeepers of Aspen. The company also does snow removal and landscaping.

 

“At this point we’re on an “on call” business for our employees, about fifteen or eighteen of them that are in limbo right now.”

 

Loper also has about a handful of salaried employees and they’re staying busy down in Carbondale. That’s because Groundskeepers is now operating Planted Earth nursery there. Like Will Vannice, Loper has to make sure he keeps an eye on spending this spring to make it through OK. And they’re both waiting out February before switching over to spring landscaping.  

“I was kind of excited the other day when I saw that the weather pattern had shifted and we’re possibly gonna get more snow now,” Loper says.

 

Aspenweather.net is forecasting snow for this Sunday and Monday. Corey Gates, co-founder of the hyper-local forecasting website, says the rest of the month looks stormy.

He guesses that 28 inches of snow will fall by the end of the month.

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