Chris Abele may be a Democrat, but statements like THIS are exactly why Democrats in Milwaukee become aggravated beyond belief with him. So, so often he doesn't seem to acknowledge that he has heard their side or that he has an understanding of why people disagree with him
He may be a dues paying and large democratic donor, but he sure as heck doesn't act like a good Democrat.
From his press-release yesterday, is the following statement:
Proposed Contract Facts:
- The average MCTS bus driver makes more than $62,000 per year in salary and overtime.
- Between cost of living increases, pay increases, and pension contribution decreases, ATU members would see a salary increase of up to 3.3% in the first year with an additional 1% increase to base pay on top of that in the second year. Additionally, ATU members were offered a $1,000 employer matching contribution to their Flexible Spending Accounts during today’s negotiations.
- The net compensation increase (salary and benefits) for ATU members over the next two years is $3,580 for workers with an individual healthcare plan and $2,848 for workers with a family healthcare plan.In a time when State transportation funding has been flat and Federal funding has declined, ATU members rejected multiple contract compromises that increased overall compensation while allowing for the continuation of full transit services, stable fares, and respect for County taxpayers.
BUT IT'S HARDLY THE TRUTH!
From THIS Journal-Sentinel article (which does contain some language that does make me cringe when thinking about professionalism):
The company offered significant concessions Tuesday to reach an agreement, including a cap on the number of part-time drivers it would hire, officials said. But union leaders asked for higher wages that would have added up to $8 million a year, according to the transit system.Wait... Did you see what happened right there?
THAT ladies and gentlemen is the Journal-Sentinel being lazy and framing an argument, and it's framing an argument against the union. ALL of that information in that statement was FROM the transit system.
You could also rewrite that paragraph from the union perspective too. It would've looked like this - "Union leaders offered to exchange the loss of overtime and hiring of some part time drivers with a slightly higher wage for drivers who would see a significant loss in previously forced overtime pay."
Then again, you could also be factual down the line AND START THE STATEMENT WITH "According to MCTS officials..."
Okay, so what exactly DID the union say in the article:
Macon said drivers were halting work for three days to protest the company's push for hiring retirees as part-time operators.
"We had no intention of going out on strike," he said Tuesday. "We wanted to sit down. We wanted to talk to them. We actually were willing to go arbitration on all this crap they said they were trying to give us. If there was a problem, why didn't they take it to arbitration?"You know what, that's a DAMN good point.
Why didn't the county take this to arbitration and get it over with? The only reason that I can think of as to WHY the county didn't want it to go to arbitration is because they would've been called out publicly for having bad provisions in the proposal. In arbitration, every side doesn't get what they want. But when one side is asking for it and the other isn't, that raises some flags.
Macon blamed Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele for the impasse.
"This is Abele pretty much controlling MCTS," he said.
Abele wasn't available late Tuesday to comment.
Macon said the union was willing to work on the issue of using part-time drivers.
The Milwaukee media has been horribly, horribly lazy covering this, which is exactly why people are naturally in the dark, unaware of what either side has said since April 1st when the contract ended, and are unsure of what side to support.
Later in the Journal-Sentinel story, they published some of what was being offered by the county. Now, I'm not sure if this is the TOTAL final best offer, or just what was being floated Tuesday, but it's something tangible:
The company's offer would cut annual pension contributions by 1.3% beginning next year and provide a 1% pay increase on Jan. 1, 2017. Drivers would continue receiving cost-of-living pay increases of up to 2% each year.Cost of living this year is 1.62%, so that's what they'll get, plus a 1% bump in two years? That's a pretty paltry pay bump all things considered. (Hey white-collar office worker who thinks bus drivers are overpaid, calculate what a $45,000 1% increase is...)
Drivers are paid an average annual hourly wage of $23.78 this year. Average hourly wages would increase to $24 in 2016 and $24.45 in 2017, under the offer.
Drivers typically work eight hours or more of overtime each week. Average annual pay swells to $62,830 a year with the extra hours.So, they work essentially six days a week. Plus, this number has been floated around time and time again, but it's pretty bogus to just force this on people as "average" with overtime. That means people are making either substantially more or substantially less... It's not a fixed number.
Plus, who would want to be forced, every week, to work up to 8 hours of overtime? (This is me being a TOTAL Millennial... During the school year, I work far, far more than 8 hours in a given day. But I'm not in an hourly job. If I punched a clock, you damn well better believe I wouldn't want to be forced to work beyond it all the time.)
Transit system officials said hiring a limited number of part-time drivers is one way to reduce the burden of overtime hours on full-time operators.And the union so far seems to be able to work with that.
But union members oppose the company's insistence that it be allowed to hire a few hundred or more part-time drivers as part of a new contract, Macon said. There are no part-time drivers now.
The union is concerned that the company plans to change most driving jobs to part time in several years, Macon said. At the same time, the company is not offering to provide part-time drivers with health or pension benefits, he said.
It's the philosophical fight we haven't been waging in this nation for the last 30 years, but need to. It's what Bernie Sanders has been railing against. It's corporate mentality over the mentality of what's good for families, what's good for people. Eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, eight hours of rest is what we need to get back to. Opening the floodgates to part time workers, who aren't even offered health insurance, is the road to sealing your own fate as losing your full time job.
This is a fight worth having. The fight for living wage jobs with benefits. Until we decide to do universal healthcare, health insurance is a pretty basic thing to fight for. (Plus honestly, can you imagine someone responsible for driving a whole bus full of people who isn't offered health insurance?!)
In mediation Tuesday, the company offered to provide flexible spending accounts to help offset increases in health care costs. The company's offer included matching an employee's contribution to the account up to $1,000, a spokesman said.
Union members this week also criticized the company's unwillingness to provide adequate time on routes for bathroom breaks.
The current contract guarantees only four minutes for a driver at the turnaround point of a route to clear the bus of passengers and walk to a business with an available bathroom, union officials said.
About 23% of daily routes provide a layover of just four minutes, according to information provided by the transit system. Layovers of five to nine minutes are scheduled on 57% of daily routes. The remaining 20% of layovers at the end of a daily route are scheduled for 10 minutes or longer.Just because it's only 23% of routes that have four minute breaks, that's 23% too many if you ask me. Four minutes? FOUR MINUTES?!?! Office setting employees have literally no idea what this is like.