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CATA bus drivers and mechanics protest failure to reach contract agreement

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Posted at 3:28 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 17:25:38-04

LANSING, Michi. — CATA bus drivers and mechanics held a protest Tuesday, saying they’re fed up after 17 months of negotiations with the public transit agency's executives.

“We need management to get in there and bargain with us fairly,” said Steven Clem, vice president of ATU Local 1039. “Get to the table, give us a contract and lets get this over.”

Negotiations started in November 2019, and there have been disagreements surrounding retiree benefits, vacation time and, most importantly, overtime, which CEO Brad Funkhouser said needs to be fixed.

Data from 2018 shows some bus drivers making well over $100,000 a year due to overtime.

“Let's not use agreements from 20 or 30 years ago as a basis for why we should still maintain these excessive salaries,” Funkhouser said.

In a press release, ATU Local 1039 accused CATA of using $60 million in COVID relief fund to buy new office furniture and pay for high-cost attorney fees.

Funkhouser denied the allegations, saying the money was spent on things such as cleaning, COVID-19 protection equipment on buses and overtime for workers.

“We spent over $600,000 in overtime,” Funkhouser said.

On Monday ATU Local 1039 and CATA had another bargaining meeting, but reached no agreement, leaving bus drivers and mechanics frustrated.

“We’re the ones that put our families at risk and our health at risk to keep this city moving, bargain with us. We’re not unreasonable at all,” Clem said.

CATA does have the right to move forward with contractual changes whether the union agrees with them or not.

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