LANSING, Mich. — Frustrated comments are circulating on social media after CATA posted a flyer saying they’re looking for new bus drivers.
“They’re spending a lot of money to get new drivers in and they’re not taking care of the drivers that’s been here for years,” said ATU Local 1039 Vice President Steve Clem.
CATA said in a statement that, "Like all employers, competition for qualified talent is currently a challenge. Although CATA operators are among the highest paid drivers in public transportation in the state of Michigan, management recently implemented a 3 percent pay increase for all bus operators and invited union leadership to return to the bargaining table to continue to negotiate in good faith.”
The post was made as contract negations between CATA, bus drivers and mechanics enter their 19th month.
Negotiations for a new contract have been at a standstill since November 2019,
CATA and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1039 have had disagreements surrounding retiree benefits, vacation time and overtime.
“They’ve put one contract on the table and have not negotiated,” Clem said. “That’s not negotiating at all.”
Between 2019 and today, 119 drivers have either quit or been fired from CATA, though they've hired replacements for many of those positions.
Now, CATA says they’re looking to hire at least 50 new full time and part time bus drivers, starting at $17. 50 an hour with a $2,500 signing bonus.
“We have great team of experienced bus drivers willing to help and train the new ones, but we need a new contract,” Clem said.