MCTS spokesman: ATU Local 998 leaders request formal contract proposal for vote

MILWAUKEE -- Contract negotiations continue between the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) and the MCTS bus drivers union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998. The two sides met with a federal mediator again on Thursday, September 3rd.

In a statement issued to FOX6 News, MCTS spokesman Brendan Conway said talks were productive Thursday -- and that both sides have explored options suggested by the federal mediator, who has been working alongside negotiators since spring.

According to Conway's statement, ATU leaders have requested that MCTS provide a formal proposal that the union can take to its members for a vote later this month.

Conway says MCTS will prepare and present a formal proposal for the next meeting, which is scheduled for Friday, September 25th.

In a separate statement, Local 998 President James Macon says he's still concerned with "a number of important issues that have not been resolved."

“We gave them a written proposal a month ago, and still don’t have anything in writing from them,” Macon says in the statement. “Currently, there are about 80 members who are not required to pay into the pension because they have less than one year of service. Under the proposal, that number could grow. We need to have major movement on that issue.”

Macon says ATU Local 998 has offered to go to arbitration to resolve the issues, but the company refused, citing a ‘looming deficit.’

However, as of March 31st, MCTS does not have a deficit and the County has a budget surplus, according to Local 998.

"We are disappointed that County Executive Chris Abele and his newly appointed MTS Board have dragged the transit system into the first work stoppage in thirty-seven years. Abele and his MTS Board are attempting to reshape Milwaukee transit at the expense of workers and riders and have failed to uphold their own ethical standards to ‘promote decisions that benefit public interest and actively promote public confidence in the transit system. We reaffirm our commitment to working toward a fair contract agreement that puts riders first, retains full-time, professional transit workers, and moves Milwaukee forward," Macon says in the statement.

Further bargaining sessions are scheduled for September 10th and 25th, according to ATU officials.

Contract negotiations between MCTS and ATU Local 998 led to a three-day strike in July, during Summerfest.