May 11, 2022 • 14M

May 11, 2022: Green Business Alliance reports GHG emissions reductions in program's first year; Transit agencies still report shortage of drivers

Plus: Workers at one of the Bodo's Bagels locations wants to unionize

 
0:00
-13:55
Open in playerListen on);

Appears in this episode

Sean Tubbs
Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
Episode details
Comments

Today marks 21 years since the death of Douglas Adams, a writer whose importance to my formation is not necessarily worth noting, but the commemoration of his passage is being noted all the same. Each of us is mortal and for the most part do not know when we will breathe our last. Until mine, I feel it is important for me to document as much as possible, and that is the mission of each and every installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement, a program that most definitely would not have existed if not for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The jury is still out on the Celestial Homecare Omnibus

Share and enjoy!

Share

On today’s program:

  • Workers at one of Bodo’s Bagels three locations want to unionize

  • The latest version of Consumer Price Index is out, and inflation is up but not quite as much as last month 

  • Area businesses involved in the Community Climate Collaborative’s Green Business Alliance report Greenhouse Gas Emissions reductions

  • And more study on future planning for transit takes place at a time when existing systems are struggling to find enough drivers 

Shout-out: RCA seeks input on the restoration of Riverview Park

The first Patreon-fueled shout-out today is for the Rivanna Conservation Alliance and their work to help the City of Charlottesville with the restoration of Riverview Park. The RCA wants your input to inform a project that aims to restore a 600-foot section of the Rivanna riverbank in an area that’s designated for public access to the waterway as well as a 200-foot section of a dangerously eroding stormwater channel nearby. How should the work be prioritized? That’s where you come in with your input. Visit rivannariver.org to learn more about the project, which seeks to help Riverview Park continue to be a welcoming place to exercise, cool off, paddle, fish, play, explore, observe nature, and escape from the day-to-day stresses of life.

Workers at Bodo’s franchise seek to unionize

Two members of Charlottesville City Council will be on hand this afternoon as employees of the Bodo’s Bagels’ location on the Corner announce their desire to unionize. 

“Employees with the union organizing committee cite several concerns leading up to the effort, including understaffing, a lack of pay transparency, inadequate paid sick leave, and wages that aren’t keeping up with the rising cost of living in Charlottesville,” reads the press release from the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.

That group already represents grocery workers at Kroger and Giant Food. The release states that “approximately” 14 employees are involved and that they presented signed union authorization cards to Bodo’s management on Tuesday and seek voluntary recognition. 

“The employees also filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board in the event that management refuses to voluntarily recognize the union, at which point an election will be conducted by the federal labor department,” the release continues. 

However, representatives from Bodo’s management said the cards were not presented. In a statement, they also said the company has always sought to set a high standard. 

“Bodo’s has been doing the best we can in every way we can for the Charlottesville community for over thirty years, and we've always been keenly aware that that's a moving target,” wrote Scott Smith and John Kokola to Charlottesville Community Engagement

“We support the right of our employees to choose whether or not they want to bring in a third-party representative, though we have always worked hardest to be that advocate by offering substantially above market wages, and hands on, proactive, compassionate management,” their comments continued.

Both Payne and Magill are advocates for a collective bargaining agreement that would allow city employees to unionize. Municipal employees in Virginia could not do so until legislation passed the Virginia General Assembly in 2020. Last August, Council directed former City Manager Chip Boyles to pursue study of a collective bargaining ordinance. Boyles was out of office two months later. 

In March, the city issued a request for proposals for a firm to help establish a collective bargaining program, but so far a contract has not been awarded. (city bid page

“There will be an award forthcoming, but the process of evaluating the submissions is ongoing so there is no date that can be provided of when the contract will be awarded,” said David Dillehunt, the interim deputy director of communications. 

See also: Charlottesville to study collective bargaining options, August 19, 2021

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Inflation continues to grow

The federal agency that keeps the official metric on the cost of goods has released the numbers for April, and the Consumer Price Index rose 0.3 percent, a slower increase than reported in March. 

“Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 8.3 percent before seasonal adjustment,” reads the release that was published this morning. 

That’s a lower number than when the numbers were reported in April, when the increase was 8.5 percent. 

The prices of shelter, food, airline fares, and new vehicles were the categories that increased the most. Food increased 0.9 percent over March, but the energy index actually declined in April. Gasoline dropped 6.1 percent, but natural gas and electricity increased. 

There are two sub categories for food. The price of “food cooked at home” increased 0.9 percent and “food away from home” increased 1 percent. 

Chart depicting the 12-month percentage change for the Consumer Price Index. Visit the Bureau for Labor Statistics website for interactive charts (Credit: Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Nonprofit group claims success in effort to reduce GHG emissions in business cohort

Last May, the Community Climate Collaborative formed the Green Business Alliance to encourage sixteen companies to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to reduce their collective emissions by 45 percent by 2025, five years ahead of when both Albemarle County and Charlottesville pledged to meet the same objective. 

This morning the nonprofit entity reports the group has a collective 28 percent reduction in the first year since a baseline was established. 

“Comparing 2021 emissions to the baseline year, which varies by member, the [Green Business Alliance] Boffset a total of 4,800 metric tons of CO2-equivalent,” reads their press release. 

Credit: Community Climate Collaborative

Some of the ways those reductions have been made are by relocations to new buildings. For instance, Apex Clean Energy moved to a new building that consolidated all employees in one place. 

“The mass-timber Apex Plaza, which features green building materials, solar power generation, and on-site battery storage, is on the cutting edge of sustainable design—mirroring Apex’s work at the forefront of the new energy economy,” reads a description of the new building on the company’s website

While the Apex Plaza building is not LEED-certified, it is one of the largest timber-built structures in the nation, and timber-built structures have a lower carbon footprint than those built of concrete or steel. 

Additionally, the Quantitative Investment Management moved to the CODE Building, which is LEED-certified. Other participants have moved to LEED-certified building since their baselines, including the Center and the CFA Institute. 

The sixteen members of the Green Business Alliance

In addition, eight of the 16 companies installed over 1,600 solar panels on their properties, offsetting another 550 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. 

For more information, read the Community Climate Collaborative’s blog post on the topic

Watch a video with highlights of Apex Plaza: 


Second shout-out to JMRL’s How To Festival

In today’s first subscriber-supported shout-out, the Jefferson Madison Regional Library will once again provide the place for you to learn about a whole manner of things! The How To Festival returns once more to the Central Library in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is something for everyone in this fast-paced, interactive and free event!

There will be 15-minute presentations and demonstrations on a diverse set of topics. Want to know how to do a home DNA test? Tune a guitar? What about using essential oils to repel mosquitoes? Visit the library website at jmrl.org to learn more. Schedule is coming soon! That’s the How To Festival, May 14, 2022. 


Regional Transit Partnership updated on studies and drive shortages

The audience for Charlottesville Community Engagement may have successfully doubled the number of views for the April 28, 2022 meeting of the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership. At the tail end of the program, I called upon you all to take a look at the meeting and I can successfully report there have now been 11 views.

But, of course, the reason you read a newsletter like this is so you don’t have to view them. So, as promised, here are some highlights from the rest of the meeting. 

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission continues to oversee the creation of a Regional Transit Plan, and the Regional Transit Partnership will have a full review at their meeting scheduled for May 26. 

But, the members of the partnership had the materials in the packet for the April 28 meeting. You have access to those materials here via cvillepedia.

“The project started in the fall of 2021 and the team developed a land use assessment and a transit assessment,” said Lucinda Shannon, a transportation planner for the TJPDC. “They identified community goals and solicited community input for the vision for the future of transit in the region.”

The consultants are currently writing up network and corridor improvements. 

“And in June the team will gather public input on the proposed improvements and then will make adjustments and then the project should finish by August,” Shannon said. 

One of the many charts in the draft materials for the Regional Transit Vision (read the materials)

The vision plan will be presented to City Council and the Board of Supervisors this summer. 

This is not to be confused with a governance study that is in the planning stages to inform what a potential Regional Transit Authority might look like. 

“The governance study is more on how we’re going to pay for the vision and the projects,” Shannon said. 

This is also not to be confused with the draft route changes proposed by Charlottesville Area Transit that have not yet been implemented due to driver shortages. 

“We’re extremely limited on our driver numbers and are actually really short,” said Garland Williams, CAT’s director. “We’ve got to figure out how to get more drivers in the hopper to do the level of service that the community wants.” 

As of April 28, Williams said CAT needed 20 additional drivers. He said he’s lost several drivers to the private sector which have higher-paying jobs.

As of today, that number is down to 17.

“We currently have 3 new drivers in training,” said Kyle Ervin, the marketing coordinator for CAT.

The topic of driver shortages topic came up during a recent non-RTP roundtable of transit providers. Karen Davis, the deputy director at Jaunt, said her agency has been meeting with CAT and University Transit Service to work out solutions. 

“Jaunt has identified some potential overlap of CAT routes with [Albemarle County Public Schools] routes which warrants discussion,” Davis said. 

Davis said the City of Charlottesville has also approached Jaunt to assist with better transit service to Crescent Halls when it reopens later this year. 

The next meeting of the Regional Transit Partnership is May 26. Until then, let’s see if we can get the number of views on the April 28 meeting up to 20! And let’s get likes up to 2!