Crisis averted: Racine transit employees become official city employees

Crisis averted: Racine transit employees become official city employees

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The mayor of Racine signed a "bill" officially welcoming transit employees to become official city employees. 

Mayor Mason signed the bill on Tuesday morning, Feb. 1 at the city's Transit Center on State Street. 

This comes after the City of Racine Common Council voted unanimously in support of the proposal to make all RYDE transit system employees city employees.

Formerly, the city contracted with a private company to manage the system and the employees.

"The management company that had been employing our bus drivers for a long time has decided they no longer wanted to do that. I wrote a letter to each of the drivers saying we want you to stay and we will employ you directly, and there is just a level of trust and relationships we had with these workers for a long time, they are just now directly our employees," said Mayor Mason.

CBS 58 spoke with Peter Cortez. He's been a bus driver in Racine the last 12 years. He says unemployment may have been the reality for some drivers if the council didn't decide to move forward with the proposal and make them official city employees. 

"We were all worried we may lose our jobs, we had a few people trying to look for other jobs. A lot of people depend on this job to support their family. A lot of us older people have grandkids we take care of too, so we were looking at different aspects of it. It was like a breath of fresh air for us knowing that we still had a job here," explained Cortez. 

CBS 58 also spoke with Trevor Jung, the transit manager for the city of Racine. He says they're proud to avoid a disruption in service and provide so many people with the transportation they need. 

"Pre-pandemic, we provided over one-million unique rides a year. if you think about those unique rides... those were to school, to the hospital, those were to places of employment, the grocery store. So, to be in a position where we can say we continue that service, we are pretty proud we can continue that," said Jung. 

The proposal also recognized General Teamsters Local Union 200 and accepted the three-year contract which had previously been negotiated with the outgoing private company and ratified by members of Local 200.

Jung told CBS 58 the city will have nine electric buses ready to launch by spring. 

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