MCTS workers ask County Board to intervene on working conditions

city bus inside

Milwaukee County Transit System employees would like the Milwaukee County Board to “hold MCTS accountable” for what it considers unacceptable working conditions.city bus inside

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998, which represents the workers, plans to ask the Milwaukee County Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee at its meeting Wednesday to intervene on its behalf with MCTS.

Among the union’s requests are “realistic running times, a positive work environment, and employee support and retention plans.” Union members in October approved a new three-year MCTS contract, but ATU Local 998 president James Macon expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of negotiation on working conditions.

“MCTS is managed by individuals with no experience behind the wheel handpicked by (Milwaukee) County Executive (Chris) Abele,” Macon said in a statement. “Under Abele’s watch, MCTS has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private consulting agencies that have made working conditions for drivers unbearable.”

The County Board has set a goal of 90 percent on-time performance for buses. According to the union, more than 125 MCTS employees have left the company this year, citing poor working conditions such as difficult to meet run times, mandatory overtime and unsupportive management.

MCTS has about 1,200 employees, a spokesman said, and MCTS has simultaneously hired 132 employees this year, with a net add of driver positions. The turnover rate in 2015 is comparable to 2013 and 2014, said Brendan Conway, the spokesman.

“It’s unfortunate that, instead of working to foster a positive work environment, ATU leadership insists on trying to spread misinformation and fear,” Conway said in a statement. “In 2015, MCTS has hired 94 bus drivers. That’s significantly more than the 79 drivers who have retired or left for other jobs. People become MCTS bus drivers for a variety of reasons, including a top tier health care plan, strong pension and a pay rate that allows the average bus driver to make more than $1,200 a week.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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