Workers want a cost-of-living adjustment plus one percent in the new contract. Credit: Photo by H. Jiahong Pan

Ninety-four percent of Metro Transit drivers, mechanics, cleaners and customer service agents voted on September 10 and 11 to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike. The authorization to call a strike comes as their union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, negotiates a new three-year contract with Metro Transit to replace one that expired at the end of July. 

Over the past year, members have been rallying for a wage increase equivalent to the cost of living, plus one percent. Metro Transit reportedly countered with an offer that entails a three percent raise in the first year, plus a two percent raise in each of the following two years. 

“The 94 percent [in support of a strike] really represented the anger about the [agency’s] first wage proposal,” said union president Ryan Timlin. Members who last week spoke with the MSR say they were hesitant to strike but support the cost-of-living wage increases. 

The ATU Local 1005 represents thousands of Metro Transit’s frontline staff, but the union also includes customer service agents who field complaints from riders, help passengers navigate the region’s transit system, as well as help riders reload their Go-To cards at the agency’s downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul service centers. They also represent the agency’s front desk receptionist.

It appears that the agency’s wage offer might match or be better than what the union is asking for. The Federal Reserve of Minneapolis says the inflation rate in the Twin Cities is one of the lowest anywhere in the country, hovering between 1 and 2 percent this year. The Congressional Budget Office expects inflation to slow in the next two years, but various factors can influence the cost-of-living. 

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