Graham Kilmer

Supervisor Pushes Health Clinic for Transit Workers

Sup. Peter Burgelis wants to use federal funding for employee health clinic.

By - Nov 22nd, 2022 05:13 pm
MCTS bus on E. Brady St. Photo by Dave Reid.

MCTS bus on E. Brady St. Photo by Dave Reid.

The Milwaukee County Board will consider a proposal over the next month that would create a health clinic for Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) workers at one of the transit agency’s properties.

The resolution, authored by Sup. Peter Burgelis, would have the county use $614,000 from its federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation to build out an onsite healthcare clinic at an MCTS facility. The resolution does not specify where, leaving it up to the transit system.

The board already approved $1.8 million in ARPA funding for three health care clinics to be located at the three highest trafficked government properties for county employees. This funding was part of a spending package aimed at creating long term savings for the county through one-time investments.

“[A]t its public hearing on the 2023 Budget, the County Board heard testimony from transit employees that affordable access to health care services is a critical component of the employee benefit package… Establishing a fourth onsite health care clinic at a MCTS location would enhance access to health care services and provide a valuable benefit to help retain employees who keep the transit system operating on a daily basis,” the resolution states.

A report by the county Office of Strategy, Performance and Budget noted that the on-site clinics could improve employee retention, increase access to preventive medical care and decrease health care claims in the long term.

Burgelis’ resolution states that clinic for MCTS workers would also be available to every other county employee, and vice-versa; and that it would contribute to the county’s mission to become the healthiest in the state by achieving racial equity.

The union that represents MCTS operators and mechanics is more than six months into negotiating a new three-year labor contract with the transit system. A major issue in the negotiations, according to transit workers, is the healthcare costs MCTS has been proffering. At the public meeting referenced in Burgelis’ resolution, workers told supervisors that their wage increases have not kept up with the increasing cost of their health care benefits.

A freshman supervisor, Burgelis has shown a particular focus on transit and transportation policy. He led a push to get free bus rides for Milwaukee County residents on election day in early November. The proposal failed to pass the board after the county’s Office of Corporation Counsel warned that the county could be sued for a breach of state election law. But he did manage to get language in 2023 budget asking county officials to study ways to legally provide free election-day transportation.

His latest proposal will first go before the county’s ARPA Task Force, created to review spending proposals for the county’s $183 million allocation. Currently, only 79% of these funds have been allocated. After the task force reviews the proposal, it will need final approval from the county board.

2 thoughts on “Transportation: Supervisor Pushes Health Clinic for Transit Workers”

  1. 45 years in the City says:

    A commendable idea from Sup Burgelis, but there are two questions to be asked:

    1) Is it appropriate for elected officials to be directly involved with the collective bargaining process at a semi-autonomous entity?

    2) Where would funds come from for ongoing expenses in coming years (salaries, equipment acquisition and maintenance, building maintenance)? MCTS budget? General county budget?

  2. TransitRider says:

    MCTS has several garages and each worker is assigned to just one garage, so the workers assigned to the other garages can’t take full advantage of this (and, in fact, might prefer a non-MCTS location for privacy reasons).

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