MCTS makes concession to union, will meet again next week

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Following a “no” vote from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 Monday, the Milwaukee County Transit System has sent a letter to the union indicating it plans to remove from its contract proposal part-time worker language with which ATU leaders had taken issue.bus illustration

In the letter, MCTS managing director Dan Boehm asks ATU to revote on the adjusted contract.

“We heard you clearly that the most important issue to you is the number of part-time drivers proposed in the contract,” Boehm wrote. “In consultation with (Milwaukee) County Executive Chris Abele and (Department of Transportation) director Brian Dranzik, and because you have stated that this is the issue that is standing between us and finalizing this contract, we would like to remove the part-time provision from the contract in the interest of resolving this issue quickly for the benefit of transit riders.”

But that might not be enough to get approval from ATU, said James Macon, president of ATU Local 998.

“We will negotiate at the table,” he said. “I will not negotiate with the press; everything has to be done at the table.”

He wants to see a formal written contract with the adjustment, and also hash out some issues members have with working conditions, such as bathroom breaks and security for drivers.

“This is something I’ve been writing to the company about for a while, the security, the bathrooms, the runtime, workers’ comp, things like that,” Macon said. “Right now, you’ve got drivers speeding up and down the street trying to stay on time.”

“If (part-time workers) was truly the biggest issue, we’ve taken it off the table. It’s no longer a concern,” said Brendan Conway, MCTS spokesman. “This is the revolving door where James Macon gets to say whatever he wants and people just expect us to bend to his every whim. It’s time for him to say yes or no. What’s this all about?”

The two sides will meet again to continue discussions on Oct. 16.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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