Transit union leaders hope to resume negotiations toward contract agreement soon

Bus drivers union ready to get back to negotiations

MILWAUKEE -- Leaders of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 held a news conference early Monday morning, July 6th at 1:00 a.m. Union leaders said they will not strike on Monday, and said they'd like to resume negotiations in an effort to come to a deal on a new contract.

During their news conference, union leaders said they want a deal convenient for both sides -- but they gave no timetable as to when the next round of talks could begin.

This news conference came as Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has called for all MCTS bus rides to be FREE for all riders on Monday -- as an effort to thank riders for their patience as drivers took part in a 72-hour strike beginning last week.

On Sunday, MCTS spokesman Brendan Conway said MCTS officials hoped there wouldn't be news of a strike when union officials addressed the media early Monday.

"We certainly hope that if they`re going to strike, or if this announcement he`s making is going to impact service in any way that they announce it before (early Monday morning), because we know tens of thousands of people rely on transit every day," MCTS spokesman Brendan Conway said earlier Sunday.

Monday is the first weekday since the conclusion of the 72-hour bus drivers' strike that began at 3:00 a.m. last Wednesday, July 1st and ended at 3:00 a.m. on the Fourth of July.

“(Monday's) day of free transit won’t make up for the massive inconvenience riders felt last week when union leaders went out on strike. However, it’s the least we can do to thank the community for their patience,” Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.

Aside from the free day, riders with weekly and monthly passes (M•CARD and paper) will be reimbursed for the time drivers went on strike. MCTS is finalizing the process and will release details as soon as they are available. This, according to Abele's office.

Despite the fact that bus drivers are back behind the wheel -- a contract agreement has not been reached between union leaders and MCTS officials.

We could learn more Monday about when negotiations could resume.

The 72-hour strike was called by Local 998 leaders after union representatives and MCTS officials sat down with a federal mediator for six hours last Tuesday -- in an attempt to come to a last-minute contract agreement.

That did not happen.

Union members voted last Monday 93% to reject the latest contract being offered -- and 92% to support a strike.

CLICK HERE for further bus strike coverage, including details on what union leaders want as it relates to a new contract, and what MCTS officials have offered.

CLICK HERE for the latest information from MCTS -- including Monday's free rides.