King County Metro Transit today announced that Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 – which represents about 4,100 Metro employees – has approved a three-year labor contract.
The contract increases wages by 9 percent over three years, and includes key provisions that will help Metro recruit bus drivers to grow service, as well as improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of the transit system. Altogether, the wage and benefit increases, including an 8.2 percent increase in the county’s health care contributions over three years, add an estimated $80 million to $85 million to the cost of the previous contract.
“The agreement we celebrate today guarantees we will continue to have a safe, healthy, well-trained workforce that delivers outstanding transit service,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The strong partnership we have with labor is helping us build a world-class transit system for the people of King County.”
“These changes provide important progress toward achieving Metro’s strategic goals, and I congratulate the members of ATU Local 587 for approving a contract that is key to growing Metro transit service,” said Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “Together, we continue to invest in building the industry’s most talented and healthy workforce. This contract benefits Metro, our workers, and our customers, and we look forward to working with ATU Local 587 to implement these changes and continue our shared focus on providing outstanding service to our growing region.”
“ATU587 is pleased to announce that it has agreed to a new 3 year contract with King County Metro,” said ATU587 President Michael Shea. “This contract is the first agreed upon contract in over six years. This contract by far contains many more sweeping and innovative changes than any other previously negotiated contract between the two parties. These changes will allow our members to obtain fairer, safer and more secure working conditions. They will receive guaranteed breaks that will promote better health and well-being. The creation of a Joint Safety and Health Committee and a Special Committee to address Employee Fatigue to assist in these areas. The use of Part Time operators on the weekends that will create more full time jobs. In all this is the most innovative and progressive contract this membership has ever approved and we are looking forward to its implementation.”
The agreement now goes before the King County Council for approval.
The contract’s key provisions include:
- Wages: Increases of 2 percent; 3 percent and 4 percent over three years, retroactive to Nov. 1, 2016.
- Health care: Opens the door to transit-specific voluntary wellness programs. Metro also will cover the costs of physical exams required for bus drivers to obtain or renew their commercial driver’s license.
- Greater use of part-time drivers: Metro gains more flexibility to assign part-time drivers on nights and weekends, which helps avoid cancelling bus service when a driver is unavailable. This also will help Metro recruit new employees because this change makes part-time drivers eligible for more hours and shift options.
- Guaranteed rest periods: Provides additional opportunities for driver breaks and moves longer guaranteed breaks to more meaningful times in operators’ shifts, such as middle of the day instead of within the first or last hour.
- Vehicle maintenance: Starts one-year pilot at Metro’s Atlantic Base to reduce under-staffing. Provides more predictability in staffing and a higher focus on safety by increasing the shift differential for the swing and graveyard shifts, from 75 cents per hour to 5 percent for swing shift; from $1 per hour to 7.5 percent for graveyard. Also forms a high-voltage committee to develop training for working on high-voltage electric and hybrid buses.
Local 587 represents employees who operate and maintain Metro buses, Sound Transit’s Link light rail and the Seattle Streetcar, and maintains facilities and provides customer service. The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada.