Metro Transit Bus Drivers' Union, Met Council 'Make Progress' in Contract Talks

December 12, 2017 08:52 PM

The Met Council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 met most of the day and into the night Monday to discuss the strike that is planned over the Super Bowl celebration.

Mark Lawson, Local 1005 president said both sides "made progress" in their talks and both are expected to hear from the mediator again in the next couple days.

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"We have not heard back from the mediator today (Tuesday), but we were told we would probably probably hear from him Wednesday and we will see where we are then," Lawson said

RELATED: Metro Transit Workers Vote to Authorize Strike During Super Bowl Festivities

The union hast threatened a strike during the Super Bowl if it does not have a new contract with the Met Council before the Super Bowl events begin.  The union's contract expired July 31.

Nearly 100 Metro Transit bus drivers filled a Met Council Transportation Committee hearing room Monday to protest lack of progress in contract talks that focus more on bus driver safety than wages and health benefits.

Doni Jones told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he has been a Metro Transit bus driver for the past 14 years and he has seen a significant rise in assaults on drivers.

"I have not been physically assaulted, but I have been spit on, verbally attacked and my life has been threatened," he said. "I have seen other drivers who've ended up in the hospital after serious assaults."

Statistics released by the union show in 2015, there were 88 assaults on bus drivers.  In 2016, there were 162 and there have been 147 assaults on bus drivers so far this year.

A 2016 Metro Transit survey of 1,600 operators showed 43 percent did not feel safe on the job.

"There seems to be more people than ever before who do not pay their fares and that's what usually leads to the assaults and a lot of the perpetrators are young kids, groups of young kids," Jones said.

KSTP asked  Katie Rodriguez, chairwoman  of the Transportation Committee, to comment on the bus drivers' concerns, but she declined to talk after the meeting concluded.

Credits

Jay Kolls

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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