Santa Barbara MTD Union Reaches Three-Year Agreement

Strike Averted as Public Transit Agency Agrees to 14.25 Percent Raise, $5K Appreciation Pay for Employees

Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Employees of the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) have reached a three-year agreement  with the agency’s leadership that includes a 14.25 percent raise over three years and a $5,000 COVID-19 “appreciation pay” bonus for the majority of employees. 

Employees of MTD, represented by the leaders at the Teamsters 186 union, began negotiating with the company on April 26, 2022, and had sanctioned a strike ahead of entering final negotiations this Tuesday over what they considered unfair COVID-19 working conditions. Abel Garcia, secretary and treasurer of the union and one of the head negotiators, said the deal was hard-fought but that ultimately he was proud of what was accomplished. 

“These people were there seven days a week, and we lost two people to COVID,” Garcia said. “It was time [MTD] showed appreciation.”

Hilary Blackerby, spokesperson for MTD, said the vote for the contract is expected to be scheduled soon. 

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Mechanics for MTD will also be able to bargain for their own contract independent of drivers, Garcia said, as historically the two groups had been lumped together. MTD has about 130 drivers and 24 mechanics, which Garcia said left the mechanics with no voting power. 

“This is a huge win for the public sector,” Garcia said. 

Another aspect of the deal was to extend the allowed time off for personal injuries. Originally, MTD only allotted 130 days off for a personal injury, and any more time than that resulted in automatic termination. Now, the maximum number of days off for a personal injury is 365. If an employee takes more time, the employee will be terminated but will now have an opportunity to reapply and keep their previous status.  

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