Delays Plague St. Louis Buses Amid Contract Dispute

Over 100 Metro bus drivers didn’t show up to work on Thursday

Metro Transit buses are dealing with delays of over 60 minutes due to a driver shortage. - FLICKR/ pasa47
Metro Transit buses are dealing with delays of over 60 minutes due to a driver shortage.

For a second straight day, Metro buses are experiencing delays as contract negotiations stall between the St. Louis transit company and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788.

On Thursday morning, Metro sent out a Tweet warning riders of delays. It cited a driver shortage, with 100 workers calling out on Thursday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Metro accused the union of “organized work action." The union has denied any organized effort to strike.
On Friday morning, Metro issued another statement, informing riders that delays of 60-plus minutes have extended into Friday. No bus routes have been canceled, with managers filling in for drivers, president and CEO of the Bi-State Development Agency Talby Roach told the Post-Dispatch. The MetroLink has not been affected.

The shortage of drivers comes just days after their contract expired on July 1. Many workers called in sick, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Catina Wilson, vice president of the local union, told the Post-Dispatch that operators were “outraged” by Metro’s contract offers.

The union has asked for a 5 percent increase in its newest contract.

But on Wednesday night, Metro offered a 2 percent increase.

Drivers currently earn $18.25 per hour, according to KSDK. They would like to see an increase in pay.

“We all work together, but we move the city. Give us our respect,” local union president Reginald Howard told KSDK. "Give us fair pay. Give us treatment as far as security is concerned and then let's go to work. Until then we're going to have problems.”

Roach said Metro supports raising salaries — within the means of the economy.

“This is a tight labor market, and we need to react and be sure that we’re supporting our employees, but of course, with that, we have to be fiscally responsible,” Roach told KMOV.

The two sides will meet again on Aug. 18.

For the time being, though, riders will have to wait a little longer for their bus.

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