New contract gives bus drivers first raise since 2009

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January 7, 2013 // UPDATED 9:38 am - January 8, 2013
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Metro Transit's 2,300 workers will get 2 percent annual increases, avoiding any concern over a strike

Metro Transit workers on Jan.7 approved a new contract that will give them their first raise since 2009 and will also put to ease any rider anxiety over a possible strike.

The contract, which gives 2 percent annual general wage increases over the next three years, was approved with 92 percent of the Amalgmated Transit Union 1005 vote.

That union represents 2,300 drivers, mechanics and support staff.

The Metropolitan Council called the contact its “best and final offer,” but union officials insisted that even if it had been rejected, a strike was not imminent.

“People appreciate where everything is with the economy and we did get an overall raise and the healthcare plan remained the same, which is important to a lot of members,” said Michelle Sommers, president of the union.

The Met Council still needs to approve the contract, and a vote is scheduled for January.

The union and the Met Council had been negotiating a new contract since the last one ended in July. The previous contract included a wage freeze, and workers hadn’t received an increase since September 2009.

Metro Transit workers last went on strike in 2004 for six weeks. No buses operated during that time.

Starting pay for a bus driver is $16.93 an hour and can increase to a top wage of $24.19 an hour, said John Siqveland, Metro Transit’s public relations manager.