MTD executive Sherrie Fisher announced that bus district employees voted 108 to 34 to ratify a new two-year contract, thus avoiding a strike that could have begun this weekend. Union employees had been working without a contract, having rejected the last offer in August. At any given time, MTD has about 85 buses on the roads that handle, on any given day, about 26,000 passengers.
Fisher credited the artful intervention of a mediator in breaking the impasse over health-care benefits for retired drivers. Under the contract just announced, the Teamsters negotiators representing about 175 MTD workers agreed to defer the age of eligibility from 62 — which it now is — to 65. Fisher said that only a few employees will be immediately affected, but said that over time, many more would be. The new contract lasts for two years, as opposed to the first which was proposed for just one.
Fisher said she was greatly relieved that a new contract has been negotiated and said her board is expected to ratify it this Tuesday. Had negotiations failed, she said, she’d been working with a company that would have fielded enough strike breakers to provide services at about 25 percent their normal level.