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Milwaukee County Transit System, ATU Local 998 reach 3-year contract

These negotiations happen every three years and are often tense.
Milwaukee County Transit System MCTS
Posted at 9:28 AM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 10:28:31-05

MILWAUKEE COUNTY — The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and the union representing bus drivers and mechanics, ATU Local 998, reached an agreement for a three-year contract, the county announced Tuesday.

During a Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this month, workers complained of threats and assaults, burnout, overtime, bad worker retention, limited to no bathroom and food breaks, among other problems, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported then.

The union and MCTS entered negotiations over a contract on Nov. 7. These negotiations happen every three years and are often tense.

About 97 percent of union members voted against MCTS' contract offered at the time, and 93 percent voted to go on strike if MCTS was not willing to adjust their offer.

On Tuesday, MCTS officials said in a statement that the contract the two sides signed includes "significant wage increases, increased work/life balance and minimal changes to healthcare."

Governments and companies across the U.S. continue to grapple with bus driver shortages, giving unions some leverage when negotiating new contracts. As many as 86 percent of schools in the U.S. have been impacted by the bus driver shortage, according to a CBS News report from August.

MCTS outlined their new 3-year contract with Local 998, copied verbatim below:

  • Wage increases – Wages will increase each year of the contract.
  • Competitive healthcare benefits – Percent contributions for 2023 and 2024 remain at 15% with slight increases to co-pays and deductibles.
  • Pension – A healthy pension that provides a great deal of financial stability for employees’ futures.
  • No Takeaways – The agreement does not take away anything from employees. MCTS did not request any concessions from the union.

TMJ4 News will update this report with an announcement from Local 998 when it is released.

Read statements from Milwaukee County officials below.

MCTS Interim Managing Director Denise Wandke:

“The company and the union have been working together since March to address wages, healthcare, security and work/life balance for operators and maintenance employees. Starting my employment with MCTS as an operator, I know the hard work and passion my fellow bus operators share. I think this contract shows our commitment to our employees and desire to collaborate with the union. I am proud of each and every employee and their amazing contributions to this community.”

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley:

“On behalf of all Milwaukee County residents, I commend the Milwaukee County Transit System and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 for reaching a fair and equitable agreement that results in uninterrupted transit service for all residents. The transit system is an integral part of our community and I’m proud to stand in support of both MCTS and the ATU, as we continue serving passengers across all of Milwaukee County.”

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