Milwaukee bus drivers reject offer; talks to resume

By: - September 6, 2019 9:06 am
Milwaukee downtown bus

Downtown Milwaukee bus

Milwaukee County Transit System workers Thursday evening rejected the latest contract offer from system management and authorized leaders of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 to call a strike “if necessary.” The voted to reject was 84%, the union said in a statement. 

Union president James Macon called on MCTS management “to come back to the table and work honestly toward a fair contract that Milwaukee transit workers can accept in good conscience–one that has back pay and common sense security protections for drivers and riders,” according to the union statement released after the vote.

A management statement after the vote indicated it would resume negotiations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported

“We’re disappointed, but not surprised, that ATU Local 998 rejected our offer because they’ve refused to acknowledge our fiscal constraints,” transit system president Dan Boehm stated. “Our offer included meaningful wage increases and a generous health care package.”

Union leaders have accused MCTS of exaggerating operating expenses in recent years. 

System management and the office of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele have rejected the claim, accusing an economic consultant for the union of citing financial data out of context.

The union’s last contract expired March 31, 2018, and an extension expired Dec. 31, 2018. Drivers and other union-represented employees have been working without a contract since that time. 

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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.