ATU locals reach two three-year agreements with two transit agencies

Aug. 11, 2023
ATU Local 732 reached a three-year collective bargaining agreement with MARTA that features new benefits in MARTA’s healthcare coverage and ATU Local 788 reached a three-year labor agreement with St. Louis Metro.

Two local arms of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) reached three-year agreements with transit agencies in Atlanta and St. Louis this week. 

ATU Local 732 reached a three-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) that features new benefits in MARTA’s healthcare coverage, including paid parental leave, education reimbursement and longevity and attendance bonuses. The agreement also includes an average 10 percent raise for operators in the first year and three percent in the second and third year.

Of MARTA’s 4,275 employees, 2,697 (63 percent) are members of ATU Local 732.

“No one is more important to delivering the vision of MARTA, which is people taking people where they want to go today, tomorrow and in the future, than our represented workforce,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. “I feel confident this agreement recognizes the contributions of represented staff and establishes new benefits to support them and their families.”

The contract creates a mutually beneficial situation for both union and management by restructuring the attendance bonus from annual to quarterly, allowing MARTA employees to take time when needed but incentivizes consistent attendance, which will help minimize missed trips due to high levels of absenteeism.

ATU Local 732 members will receive an estimated 12 times more in total attendance bonuses over the last contract, and longevity bonuses have been added for members with 15 years of service and increased for those with over 20 years. Another feature of the contract is members can share MARTA employee Breeze passes with their spouses and dependents, up to four per represented employee.

“As a public entity, MARTA strives to keep pay competitive while remaining fiscally responsible,” said MARTA Board of Directors Chair Thomas Worthy. “The 16 percent raises and longevity bonuses, plus health benefits provided at the lowest cost of any public employer in metro Atlanta, combine to make a strong compensation package for represented employees.”

ATU Local 788 reached a three-year agreement with the Bi-State Development Agency (St. Louis Metro). The St. Louis Metro Board of Commissioners approved two new labor contracts with St. Louis Metro Transit operators, maintenance and clerical workers represented by ATU Local 788. The three-year contracts are the result of more than a year of negotiations between the two parties and call for a base pay increase, a $7,000 signing bonus and other new benefits.

“Our frontline employees and their negotiating team with ATU Local 788 worked tirelessly for these contracts, and we are very grateful they have now been ratified by both the members and the full Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners,” said Taulby Roach, President and CEO of St. Louis Metro. “We are all ready to move forward so we can focus on better serving our community with a renewed sense of pride and purpose.”

The agreements call for pay increases of three percent in 2023 and three percent in 2024, with a $7,000 signing bonus. The CBA’s cover approximately 1,100 employees. A portion of the signing bonus would go into employees’ 401k retirement plans. The salary increases are in addition to a five percent increase, retroactive to July 1, 2022, that the two sides agreed on last fall, which set the stage for contract talks to continue on a longer-term deal. The previous contracts covering MetroBus and MetroLink operators, maintenance workers and clerical workers expired in June 2022.

The new agreements further stipulate the terms of the ratification bonus, noting that $3,000 of it can be added to a paycheck or can be placed in a 401k tax-advantaged retirement account, while the remaining $4,000 will go toward a 401k tax-advantaged retirement account set up by St. Louis Metro. The 401k yearly contributions are in addition to the covered members’ regular pension contributions. In addition to base wage increases, the contract offers new pay differentials that could increase pay by up to seven percent for qualified employees.

Two-thirds of all MetroBus and MetroLink operators currently qualify for at least one pay differential. The advantages spelled out in the Operator and Maintenance contract are part of St. Louis Metro’s initiative to provide a competitive wage and benefit package that significantly increases operator take-home pay and accelerates the steps and progression to top salary.

“I would like to thank the members of ATU Local 788, my ATU negotiating team and St. Louis Metro for working with us after a long struggle in getting this contract across the finish line,” said ATU Local 788 President BA Reginald M. Howard.

“The ATU Local 788 negotiating team put a considerable amount of time and effort into working with us on these contracts, and we are pleased with the outcome of those negotiations that will strengthen our ability to retain and attract the best team members possible to safely serve our customers with higher quality service,” said Chuck Stewart, COO for St. Louis Metro. “We value the hard work our team members deliver every day to serve this community and look forward to working together under the new agreements so we can put the focus back on our customers who rely on public transit.” 

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.

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