MILWAUKEE -- Leaders of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998, the Milwaukee County Transit System bus drivers union, announced the results of a "no confidence" vote for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele on Thursday evening, September 24th. This, as contract negotiations are expected to pick back up.
A statement issued to FOX6 News by Local 998 leaders say the results of the "informal poll" in which transit union workers voted "no confidence" in the ability of Abele to manage MCTS were "nearly unanimous."
According to Local 998, of the 590 votes cast, 584 voters expressed "no confidence" in Abele.
The results of this vote were announced during a rally at the Milwaukee County Courthouse Thursday evening. During that rally, Local 998 leaders again demanded a fair contract for bus drivers.
The statement from ATU officials says the "no confidence" vote came after Abele's "veto of bus extension routes to Oak Creek and Brown deer, which would have connected central city residents with jobs; his veto of fare reduction programs; his failure to secure a dedicated source of funding for transit; and his refusal to bargain in contract negotiations with transit workers."
A spokeswoman for Abele issued the following statement to FOX6 News:
"Transit in Milwaukee County was in a decade long tailspin of fare increases and route cuts before County Executive Abele took office. Since that time he's stabilized the system by increasing local funding, fighting for more state revenue, adding more than one million route miles, and refusing to raise fares.
County Executive Abele remains committed to improving transit for the tens of thousands of people every day who rely on it to get to work, school, and doctors appointments, and welcomes productive feedback from everyone who shares that commitment. "
Additionally, the spokeswoman says:
Since 2011 County Executive Abele has:
- Never proposed a bus fare increase
- Added 173 new buses to the MCTS Fleet
- Successfully increased state funding for transit
You'll recall MCTS bus drivers took part in a three-day strike back in early July following contract negotiations.
MCTS and ATU Local 998 officials continue to negotiate a new contract for drivers. In fact, negotiations are set to resume on Friday, September 25th.
A four-year contract is on the table -- and one of the main sticking points is that the union does not want part-time drivers.
The two sides met with a federal mediator again on September 3rd.
In a statement issued to FOX6 News, MCTS spokesman Brendan Conway said talks were productive — and that both sides have explored options suggested by the federal mediator, who has been working alongside negotiators since spring.
According to Conway’s statement, ATU leaders requested that MCTS provide a formal proposal that the union can take to its members for a vote later this month.
ATU Local 998 represents over 1,100 active members in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha and Sheboygan.