The Oneonta Common Council approved 6-2 leasing three buses from Birnie Bus Service after a member objected to the proposal based on the firm’s anti-union activities.
Michael Lynch, council member for the Fourth Ward, said Birnie Bus Service is far from being “ a good corporate citizen” and has a “terrible record” toward employees trying to unionize. Lynch,a labor-relations specialist, voted against the motion and he was joined by David Rissberger, council member for the Third Ward.
Maureen Hennessy, council member for the First Ward, said she supported Lynch raising the issue because unions formed the “kind of middle class we have” and keep other firms competitive. However, she voted in favor of the lease agreement.
Paul Patterson, city transit director, said the agreement is the only one that the city has with Birnie Bus Service. The leased buses will be driven by city employees, who will benefit from the work during the slower summer months, he said.
Under the approved measure, the city will lease three 16-passenger buses for three weeks for a maximum amount of $1,620 per week, and Patterson said the cost will be covered by a contract for transportation services with Cooperstown Baseball World.
In other business during the meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night, the city thanked Kaler and Laura Carpenter, pastors with the Redemption Movement, for their work last weekend cleaning the stairwells in the parking garage downtown.
The Carpenters said the project was part of mission work in their nondenominational Christian church, which holds services and programs at 148 River St. starting at 6 p.m. Fridays. Sundays are devoted to community service, they said.