Strike impacts employers, workers, disability advocates: “Hopefully we get back to normal soon”

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Transit System buses went out of service at 3:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 1st, as a 72-hour strike went into effect. The strike continues until 3:00 a.m. Saturday, July 4th, and it's having a major impact on those who rely on this public transportation. Bus service is critical for thousands who rely on MCTS buses to get to work each day. It's also crucial to many people's independence.

The strike began after MCTS and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 leaders met with a mediator for six hours on Tuesday. A contract agreement could not be reached.

MCTS bus drivers strike

MCTS bus drivers strike

On Monday, 93% of Local 998 members voted to reject the most recent contract offer. 92% of members voted in favor of a strike.

This strike comes ahead of a very busy Fourth of July weekend -- and in the midst of Summerfest's 11-day run. But more importantly, this strike is impacting people's livelihoods -- making it difficult, if not impossible for them to do things like get to their job.

Normally, before the Fourth of July weekend, Lena's Food Market is packed with customers.

"This is one of our busier holidays," Gregory Martin, Lena's Food Market owner said.

But on Wednesday, July 1st, as the bus strike began, the aisles at Lena's weren't as full.

Lena's Food Market

Lena's Food Market

"We definitely have seen a difference in our business in terms of sales," Martin said.

The strike has meant fewer customers at Lena's, and difficulty for its employees.

"A lot of our customers take public transportation to the store.  We actually went out and picked up a number of our employees," Martin said.

The strike is creating problems for many.



"Because of a medical condition, I can't drive, so I have to take the bus. I did manage to catch a cab here and I have a taxi reserved for the way home," Laurie Hansen said.

Advocates for those living with disabilities at IndependenceFirst are also feeling the effects of this strike.

"My class today in money management was rescheduled. The individuals from my class take the bus here," Julia Loritz said.

Home care services have been jeopardized, with no way of getting to 1,400 customers.

"We have workers who go into their homes and provide services every day. A lot of those workers use public transportation," Lee Schulz, IndependenceFirst president and CEO said.

"Hopefully we get back to normal as soon as possible," Martin said.

Lena's officials are using shuttles to help get their employees to work.

At IndependenceFirst, many are carpooling -- some walking and others taking cabs.

Transit Work Union Stoppage Hotline

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  • David

    I hope Gov. Scott Walker steps in with a Big ” Guillotine ” To this Bus Union ! Unions has cause more damage than good for tax paying workers in Wisconsin ! You know he ain’t gonna give in one bit .

    • DOc

      Without unions most of us would be forced to work through temp services. Employers are trying to get away from paying benefits to their and leads to more profit in their pockets and slave wages for you. Imagine being an executive making six figures and one day out of nowhere you are terminated or downsized. Now you are filing unemployment, foreclosure on your home, and the repo your car. Unions are their to negotiate on your behalf.

  • 2ECOND

    let the firings begin. not sure if the bus drivers’ jobs are safe due to the fact that they are not “on strike” but rather have essentially walked off their jobs for 3 days. seems to me that’s a “no call no show” scenario.

  • wtf

    I agree no call non show for nurse=no job……I dont get potty breaks of I have a critical patient..a new Nurse doesn’t make what a bus driver does..doesnt get a nice care dollar match ….most if not all healthcare alot for mediocre health benefits..and of course shift work..we deal with nice people and not so nice people…who treat us poorly spit. .hit. bite. Curse and complain…and we have tens..of thousands of dollars of student loans.and years of school. .and cant start out at what a seasoned bus driver makes…really that is a slap in the face..they have nothing to complain about and have slapped the face of many if not all their customers!!!!…shame on the useless union..dont you union people get it…what percent..of yoir wage do you pay to the union….?… $50..a month…how much do the salaries cost of your union bosses?..what kind of cars. Houses vacations do they have at your expenses???
    .and complain…

  • Ubiquitous King

    Fight until you get what you deserve. We seem to gave forgotten why unions were established, now corporate flunkies are crying because the union exercised her power to fight for a fair contract. Strikes have cascading effects on society, that’s the point, it helps corporate bullies remember who yields the power, it has always been and will continue to be the workers. So corporate cheerleaders put your pomp pons up and get back to reality.

  • Scott

    “Home care services have been jeopardized, with no way of getting to 1,400 customers.”
    Service providers take the bus to their customers? I find that hard to believe.

  • weizer2

    Thank goodness our elected officials made statements about this work stoppage. Too bad they didn’t create a solution.

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