Graham Kilmer
Transportation

Thursday Transit Strike Averted

Transit union will vote on contract offer from MCTS.

By - Nov 7th, 2019 06:44 am
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A Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus from Gillig. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus from Gillig. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

There will be no transit strike, at least for now.

After 13 hours of negotiation, the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 have reached a tentative agreement that will keep the buses rolling.

“Negotiations went well today and there has been movement from both sides,” said Dan Boehm, MCTS managing director, in a statement. “The next step is for ATU Local 998 members to vote on the package in the coming weeks.”

In August, the transit system gave the union a final contract offer after 18 months of negotiations. The union voted it down and also authorized its executive committee to call a strike. But the union and county representatives agreed to come back to the negotiating table on Wednesday, while picketers protested outside MCTS headquarters.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, James Macon said that stalled negotiations and the possibility of a strike were the result of County Executive Chris Abele’s policy towards transit.

Later, Wednesday evening, Abele released a statement, and said, “I have been working hard to get the County in better fiscal shape and that means we cannot spend money we do not have. County resources do not belong to me and they don’t belong to James Macon; they belong to the residents of Milwaukee County and that is a responsibility I take very seriously.

When James threatens to take public transit away from the thousands of riders who rely on MCTS to connect them to jobs, education, culture and above all opportunity; it does not change Milwaukee County’s balance sheet. What it does do is punish the people Milwaukee County government is here to serve.”

In August, MCTS made major concessions from its previous contract offers on healthcare by dropping a co-insurance proposal and reducing proposed co-pays. MCTS officials have also stated they will convene a task force on transit security in the upcoming year, which will include members of the union, to devise a plan for better security on the buses.

Details on Wednesday’s agreement were not immediately available.

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