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Transit workers reject MCTS contract proposal, could soon go on strike

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MILWAUKEE -- Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 998 members voted Thursday night, Sept. 5 to reject the latest contract proposal from the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and authorize a strike if necessary, as determined by the Executive Board.

Both sides hope new negotiations can help avoid a strike -- but there are still big gaps between what workers want and what MCTS says it can give.

MCTS says the contract offered meaningful wage increases and a generous healthcare package. But it wasn't enough for workers -- who want provisions like back pay and extra security.

President of ATU Local 998, James Macon released the following statement:

“It’s time for MCTS to come back to the table and work honestly toward a fair contract that Milwaukee transit workers can accept in good conscience–one that has back pay and common sense security protections for drivers and riders.

“MCTS has been over projecting operating expenses for years to give the illusion of being broke to justify their attack on transit workers and riders.

“Let us be clear. ATU Local 998 members refuse to stand by and let County Executive Chris Abele and MCTS balance their manufactured budget deficit on the backs of transit workers and riders. Transit workers will strike if necessary.”

Response from MCTS:

"We’re disappointed, but not surprised, that ATU Local 998 rejected our offer because they’ve refused to acknowledge our fiscal constraints. Our offer included meaningful wage increases and a generous healthcare package.

ATU Local 998’s most recent counter proposal would cost $5.5 million more plus additional back pay. In order to afford that, we’d have to double the amount of route cuts that are already proposed for 2020.

Threatening a strike is a common negotiation tactic. We look forward to the next meeting with ATU."

The two sides will now have to come back to the bargaining table. The union says it will strike if necessary.

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