Higher pay, bathroom breaks among guarantees for RTD bus drivers, train operators in new 3-year contract

Labor negotiations that just last month carried the specter of a mass walkout by RTD employees headed toward resolution Tuesday night, as a new 3-year contract that would boost pay and improve working conditions for hundreds of bus drivers and train operators was approved by a key agency committee.

The full Regional Transportation District board of directors is expected to finalize the agreement at its regularly scheduled meeting at the end of the month.

The contract, which was ratified by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001 over the weekend, would raise hourly wages for new bus drivers and train operators from $17.49 to $19.40, starting this month. That wage would jump another 3 percent in each of the next two years — to $19.98 an hour next year and to $20.58 in 2020.

The collective bargaining agreement also calls for RTD to give drivers guaranteed bathroom breaks and put $6.2 million a year for the next three years into the employee pension fund. Drivers would also be compensated extra for working split shifts, and RTD would have to give three days’ notice if it wants employees to work on a day off.

“We spent a lot of time discussing working conditions,” RTD CFO Heather McKillop said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Around 2,000 of RTD’s 2,800 employees are covered by the agreement. They have been working under a 5-year contract that expired at the end of February.

“Let’s hope it moves us forward in hiring drivers,” RTD director Kate Williams said prior to the 11-2 vote by the agency’s Financial Administration & Audit Committee.

RTD has been dealing with a driver shortage for the last few years — it has 139 bus driver vacancies and 59 train operator vacancies. But with the metro area’s historically low unemployment rate continuing unabated, the agency has struggled to find drivers …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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