Voting on Latest Metro Transit Contract Continues

December 18, 2017 07:49 PM

Contract voting for Metro Transit drivers begins again Monday morning.

The high-stakes vote could lead to a strike during the Super Bowl if an agreement isn't reached.

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On Sunday, 2,500 union members started casting their ballots on the latest contract offer from the Metropolitan Council.

If the union voters follow the recommendation of its leadership, the three-year contract would end the scare of a Super Bowl strike.

RELATED: Transit Drivers Union's Board Votes to Recommend Accepting Latest Contract Proposal

Met Council officials said they believe the latest proposal was responsive and respectful, addressing driver safety, health benefits and wage increases.

"We want to make sure we are compensating our bus drivers, our operators, and technicians fairly," Kate Brickman, with the Met Council, said. "They are the backbone of the transit system across this region and customers and people all across the region rely on them to get to work and school."

Met Council officials said the latest and best offer includes a 2.5 percent wage rate increase each of the three years and improves partial sick leave.

However, a big concern from the union has been driver safety. Facing verbal and physical attacks at times, drivers have been calling for protective barriers.

Under this proposal, a pilot program would be launched, installing 21 plexiglass-like barriers to buses, with installation starting by the end of the year.

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

Dozens of union members attended Wednesday's Met Council meeting, feeling unsatisfied with how negotiations were handled. After the meeting, however, President Mark Lawson said the union's executive board met with a small group of Met Council represenatives. Lawson said the two sides agreed to give drivers more representation on the committee for drivers' safety. 

"I feel that this is a compromise, you know, there are still some things left undone," Lawson said. "We didn't get everything we wanted. Management didn't get everything they wanted, but that's what a compromise is and I feel we have a true compromise."

Voting picked back up at 8 a.m. Monday and will continue until 4 p.m. Results are expected by 6 p.m.

KSTP

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