Careers, not jobs: Bloomington Transit GM describes new bus driver contract

On Tuesday night, Bloomington Transit’s five-member board approved a new four-year collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Local 613, the bus drivers union.

Under the new contract, for full-time fixed-route bus drivers in their third year of service, the hourly wage will increase from $19.69 now to $21.19 in January 2022. That’s a 7.6-percent increase.

By the fourth year of the contract, those drivers will be paid $25.69 an hour, which is a 30.5-percent increase over their current wage.

New BT general manager John Connell, who took over from retiring Lew May at the start of the month, told the board, “One of the goals that we set out was to establish an increase in pay and benefits where we could be in a position to offer careers, not jobs. And I think this contract does that.”

Connell continued, “It’s a four-year term. And in the fourth year, our wages will be very competitive.”

He added, “We’re hoping to see some improvements in our recruiting efforts.” Due to a driver shortage, BT is currently making just about 70 percent of the runs that it would normally make this time of year, Connell said at Tuesday’s board meeting. Continue reading “Careers, not jobs: Bloomington Transit GM describes new bus driver contract”

Bloomington Transit OKs side letter with drivers union: Pay bump, $1,000 essential-worker bonus

At its Tuesday meeting, the five-member Bloomington Transit board voted to approve a side letter agreement with AFSCME Local 613, which is the drivers union.

The agreement is hoped to aid recruitment of new drivers—BT is currently short by about a dozen. The agreement is also hoped to reduce a recent spate of cancelled bus runs, chronicled on BT’s Twitter account, due to lack of drivers on the overtime list.

The side letter increases starting pay for drivers by $2 an hour—from $16.32 to $18.32—and gives those with more experience a $1,000 essential-worker bonus.

The context of the phrase “essential worker” connects to the COVID-19 pandemic. Drivers were still expected to keep the buses running, even though the number of service hours was reduced.

To cover the cost of the essential-worker bonus, BT will use money it received through the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act.

The side letter approved by the board also requires at least 12 drivers to sign up for the overtime list. The letter also clarifies the wording of the existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) about how overtime can be mandated and the right to refuse a withdrawal from the overtime list.

The side letter is still contingent on a vote of the union membership. Continue reading “Bloomington Transit OKs side letter with drivers union: Pay bump, $1,000 essential-worker bonus”