Despite new contract, bus drivers union not happy with work conditions

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MILWAUKEE -- There may be a contract, but the complaints continue. Milwaukee County Transit Union workers on Wednesday, December 2nd listed the concerns they say have not been resolved, despite agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement in October.

Joyce Jones

Joyce Jones

Transit workers say the company needs to do more to protect drivers, that current schedules set unfair expectations for drivers, and they don't have enough time for bathroom breaks.

"We're people. We're human. Worry about us," said Joyce Jones, MCTS bus driver. "I've been spit on. I've been cussed out."

MCTS officials tell the Milwaukee County Board's Transportation Committee, assaults on drivers have actually decreased by 62 percent since 2010.

James Macon

James Macon

Union leaders say drivers still feel unsafe and are also stressed out by route schedules they say leave them too little wiggle room.

"I'm telling my drivers to stop speeding trying to keep on time, stop running red lights trying to keep on time," said James Macon, president of ATU Local 998.

MCTS says it has employees dedicated to drafting reasonable routes.

"This month alone, we are adjusting five schedules based on input and requests from the union and drivers. That happens all the time," said Brendan Conway, MCTS spokesman.

The drivers also say the minimum layover time of four minutes isn't enough when one has to go.

Brendan Conway

Brendan Conway

"You have to get off the bus, you have to secure your bus, you have to make it to the bathroom, you have to use the bathroom, then you have to come back to the bus. You're all of like 10-12 minutes now," said Jones.

"Four minutes is the bare minimum. The actual average time that the vast majority of drivers see is seven minutes long and that doesn't happen once every shift. That may happen every hour or every 90 minutes," said Conway.

MCTS officials say they have created a bathroom task force which, according to a memo, is set to meet later this month.

As for why these issues were not resolved in the labor contract, Macon said the focus was on healthcare and pension contributions -- so some issues like workplace conditions were not addressed.

Milwaukee County Transit System

Milwaukee County Transit System

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