Negotiations failed, and as of 2:00 a.m. this morning, RTD is on strike. It’s already made the national news. USA Today reports it’s the first walk out by our transit workers since 1982. The strike will affect a lot of people. The transit district maintains bus and light-rail systems in all or parts of Denver, Broomfield, Boulder, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Weld counties, a service area with about 2.5 million residents. It had 86.2 million passengers boardings last year and averages about 275,000 per weekday. The union approved the final deal. RTD says they put more money on the table than ever before:
It’s very disappointing,” transit spokesman Scott Reed said. “We had the largest wage rate increase offer in RTD’s history on the table, and we agreed to do exactly what the union requested, which was split possible future health care cost increases.” The rejected offer would have shared any increases in health insurance premiums 50-50 between workers and the agency in the last two years of the contract.
So what went wrong? It seems the workers would disagree with the characterization of the “largest wage rate increase offer ever” as “generous.” They have a point:
The raise increase added up to $1.80 an hour over three years, made up of quarterly raises of 15 cents an hour. A one-time $250 bonus was also offered. Mike Pierce, a bus operator for 12 years, said he voted against the contract. “An extra 15 cents an hour on my paycheck doesn’t mean much. It’s not much more than what we already have,” he said.