Metro Transit union to vote on tentative contract with pay raises, bonus

By TIM ROWDEN
Editor-in-Chief

St. Louis – After more than a year of negotiations, leaders of Metro Transit’s main employee union, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 788, and agency management have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract.

Local 788 President Reggie Howard said union members were set to vote on the contract Monday, Aug. 7, after Labor Tribune press time.

Howard told the Post-Dispatch the agreement calls for pay increases of three percent in each of the next two fiscal years and a $7,000 signing bonus, some of which would go into employees’ 401(k) retirement plans.

The salary hikes would be in addition to a five percent increase retroactive to July 1, 2022, that the two sides agreed on last fall while talks continued on a longer-term deal.

The previous contract, covering bus drivers, MetroLink operators and maintenance workers, expired at the end of June 2022. About 1,100 employees are involved, Howard said.

Howard said the tentative contract includes:

  • More pay for priority routes.
  • Money for longevity.
  • A night pay differential for buses that come in at 9 p.m.
  • A differential for any driver that drives part of an evening route in addition to their regular shift.
  • A first time offer of a 401(k) in addition to worker’s pension.
  • A pay differential for Saturday or Sunday shifts.
  • Shortened wage progression for operators’ to two years from five.

“There’s a lot of little perks in there,” Howard said.

The plan includes technical wording changes in an offer submitted by management in early July that the union’s executive board initially had recommended be rejected.

“Money is important but once the money is spent you have to live with the language until you retire,” Howard said.

Howard said the union also received clarification from management on how the part of the bonus going into newly established 401(k) plans would be handled and when older workers could remove money without penalty from their accounts.

The contract talks have been held as Metro deals with a chronic shortage of bus drivers that has led to service cutbacks.

Howard said much of the contract is aimed at recruiting and retaining newer drivers.

A separate contract covering drivers of Metro’s Call-A-Ride paratransit vans expires in January, Howard said. He said negotiations have yet to begin on a new deal for those workers.

(Some information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


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