Transit union members voting on contract Monday

ATU Local 998 - the Milwaukee County bus drivers union - is voting on a new contract proposal Monday.  They vote until 7:00 pm Monday night.  Union leadership is urging divers to vote no on the new two-year proposal.  

Union leader James Macon said the contract adds part-timers and the contract language is worse than before. He said there would be more part time drivers but they'd have no limit on the amount of hours worked.

The Milwaukee County Transit System says that's not the case at all.  Spokesman Brendan Conway says there's a lot of misinformation being put out by the union. He says the 45 part-time drivers is lower than what the president has previous said he'd accept.

Conway says they've been working close with the union and the federal mediator.

"The contract we proposed we spent about three months working with ATU and the federal mediator," Conway said Monday.  "Both sides, behind the scenes had kind of agreed to it. We were caught off guard a bit when they came out and said this isn't something they would accept. I don't know if they don't think the work of the federal mediator isn't good enough or who they're trying to blame now but we're certainly hopeful they're going to accept this deal."

Macon released a statement saying: 

“Chris Abele and the executives at MCTS want to hire 45 part-time transit operators who would work unlimited hours without benefits. This is unacceptable. The union has never agreed to part-time operators working unlimited hours.

“The 45 part-time operators MCTS wants would be in addition to an already existing tier of over 70 operators hired to work 30 hours per week that are scheduled full-time hours but don’t receive full-time benefits or pay into the pension. These operators are classified as “G30’s.” This means MCTS could have over 100 employees working full-time hours without full-time benefits.

“The meager wage increase in the latest proposal from MCTS would be offset by increased health insurance premiums and deductibles. In 2017, transit workers would end up taking home less money.

“Since January 2015, over 100 employees have left MCTS resulting in scheduled work that is being held in at each station. It is unlikely that lower wage jobs without any benefits will attract or retain the workforce needed to move Milwaukee forward. Part-time transit workers simply cannot support full-time communities.

“MCTS has proposed capping the cost-of-living adjustment on the last day of the contract at 2%. With interest rates heading up, prices will be going up, too. Transit workers are public servants who deserve a wage that keeps pace with the cost of living.

“Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 members have fought for many years to win the full-time professional drivers that Milwaukee deserves. This proposal doesn’t make sense for our members or for Milwaukee riders.”

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