Metro Teamster #11

Inflation means we took a pay cut

The 2022-2024 contract voted on in 2021 included raises that were 2.5%, 2% and 2% for each year. In normal times, people are happy with something like 3%. But, the ink was hardly dry on this contract before record inflation took off and obliterated those raises.

The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) puts out a Consumer Price Index (CPI) chart that sets the maximum Act 10 unions can bargain for in a year. (Transit workers are not subject to Act 10, but it is still a helpful metric.

For 2022, we came out 0.2% above inflation. But that ballooned, and Jan 1, 2023 the CPI-U was 7.17% — 5.17% over our 2% raise. So, in effect we took a paycut. 2024 is on track for more of that: a 2% raise with over 7% inflation is another pay cut. The cost of consumer goods rises faster than wages, so what you can buy less with the same amount of money as before. In order to stay level, we would have needed raises close to 8% for 2023 and 2024.

Is there money for that? Somehow the City has found money to bring in multiple chiefs with six figure salaries; pay tens of thousands for their moving expenses; hire ride guides and subcontracting firms for the route redesign; pay for a software overhaul; and so on. There’s money – they just don’t think its for us.

What we would need for a next contract is COLA plus 1%. Make up for the pay cut we took, and 1% on top of that.

Metro Briefs

Metro Retirees

Lawrence Collins

Ricky Kinworthy

Management updates

HR: Alissa hired as internal Metro HR manager. Oversees Fran/Ann, under Rachel Johnson

New Ops Supervisors:

Uli Hernandez, Michael Dentice

Shop :

DeAndre Newson (manager) term’d

Jack Laylan retired

Ryan Conlan hired as supervisor

No flu shots at Metro this year.
If you want one, you have to go to a pharmacy or your doctor.

Flushing Promises

By Bob S

The transfer points were built in 1998 with sewer, water, and electricity.   The original plans were to have toilets installed.  Those promises were flushed, and the money was spent on another project.  Currently, we are being told that Metro has us covered. Trust the process.  I’m feeling challenged by these words.

We were told to use businesses. The time it takes to walk to a company can take time away from serving riders and keeping on schedule. Bathroom availability on Holidays, weekends, early mornings, and late nights has been limited or non-existent. Hydration is essential, which leads to restroom use. Many drivers feel they “should” buy something when using the business bathroom. Is this fair to the business owner to ask them to pay the city’s cost of sewer, water, soap & paper products used by drivers?

Because of Covid, many businesses were closed or refused drivers for safety concerns. Many companies stop allowing us to use bathrooms unless we purchase something from them. Currently, we have trailer-type bathrooms at the four transfer points that were put in during the pandemic. Only the South Transfer point and Capitol will have them as soon as the redesign occurs, with future promises of bathrooms at  Junction Road and Sun Prairie Park & Ride.

With the new redesign planning, bathrooms were an afterthought and only recently addressed. Even though the public is told there are bathrooms, there must be more.  We are given a list of businesses with bathrooms that we might be able to use.

Initially, we were told each location was contacted, and restroom access was approved, after asking who contacted each business.  I was told that, Apparently, that was not factual.  That’s what I was told, stated management, but nobody apparently went to each location.  So, I don’t know for sure that something like that happened.  Once again, trusting the process seems like we will tell you what you want to hear and do what we want without concern for drivers. 

After a brief Google search, I found a 227-page article Titled: Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access.  In the summary pages alone, I read that this can lead to distracted driving. A state of mind that neither we, the drivers, nor the people we transport desire.  Because the driver is thinking, where can I go to relieve myself?  With four seasons: snowbanks, ice, mud, rain, and lightning can now become a real danger.

Health issues need to be considered. Limiting voiding might lead to illnesses like urinary tract infections and kidney stones. Access may be required more frequently for people with health concerns such as irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cycles, or pregnancy. Restroom access is a human dignity issue and a fundamental right. OSHA took part in this 10-year study involving the U.S. and Canada. I was told that Metro and the city do not answer OSHA.  My response is that their findings are still valid.

Currently, the end-of-the-line locations that are offered still rely upon businesses. With 85 to 120 drivers out on the streets at any time, can we ask companies to pay for the city’s responsibility for sewer, water, soap, and paper products without compensation? Even if a stipend is paid to these locations for driver use, early morning, late night, weekends, and holidays, some places are closed for business.  Leaving us without adequate restroom access. 

Drivers have suffered many of the same safety and health issues mentioned in the document I forwarded to Management.  Toilets should be installed at the end of each bus line for drivers’ use. I’m asking for continued support & Management accountability on this topic so that the issue is not suppressed and flushed.

The following link will take you to a support page. Please sign. Thank you!

Metro Teamster #9

This is the online edition of the print newsletter we circulate at Metro.

Teamsters 695 Election: Ballots NEXT WEEK

Elections for our union’s officers are this fall. Ballot are being mailed Friday, 9/30 and will start arriving the first week of October. This is a critical election: our local’s officers choose and direct our Business Agents, decide on union policy, decide if and when to hold meetings, and set the tone of how our union acts.

This election is your chance as a Teamster member to choose: your vote is your voice. The choice is between status quo with Larry Wedan, Rick Roeth, and the current administration, OR a democratic union with REBUILD695.

Rebuild695 has put together these newsletters for the last three years, something that the union should have been doing. We ran for election in 2019 and got just under half the vote of the union’s 3800 members at 60+ worksites. We fought for COVID relief & bathrooms. We put together videos for the last two contracts. If that’s the stuff you think the union should be doing, vote REBUILD695.

Ballots will be counted Wednesday, 10/26/22. Your last day to mail your ballot and sure its counted is 10/21/22.

Open Enrollment on Health/Dental/Vision 9/26 -10/21

Open enrollment for insurance benefits started 9/26/22 and will go through Friday, 10/21/22. Flex Spending enrollment will be 10/31/2 to 11/18/22.

GHC is the lowest bidder in the plan again this year, so GHC is the free plan for Teamsters. Rates for the other plans are listed in the table below. (The contract says that the employer will pay 100% of the lowest bidder—employee pays the remainder if they select another plan, so if you want Quartz, Dean, or something else you have to pay the difference.

DENTAL RATES (monthly):

  • Employee Only: $36.60
  • Employee + Spouse: $83.73
  • Employee + Child(ren): $84.42
  • Family: $127.10

Mayor Giving Everyone $1,000 Jan 1

The Mayor announced last week that due to a budget surplus, she will be giving every City employee $1,000 at the start of 2023. (That is, if the council approves it…)

Its not a “retention bonus”, and its not “hazard pay”. They have extra money and they’re giving a one-time payment. As far as its been explained, there’s no stipulation on how long you had to have been here, whether you worked through COVID, how long you have to be here after you receive it.

Mayor is up for reelection in 2023. Coincidence?

LABOR BEAT: UW Nurses; Rail; UPS

UW Nurses
Nurses at UW hospital were set to strike September 13 to 16th for recognition of their union and to start bargaining. Nurses there were represented by the union SEIU before 2011 and the hospital stopped dealing with them. The hospital is weird because its not “public” or “private”, it’s a joint-authority so there’s not a clear place in the law.

UW nurses have been organizing for the past five years and decided they would strike to get the hospital to recognize them. At the last minute on 9/12/22, the hospital and union agreed to take the case to the WERC to see what they say. If the WERC gives them the thumbs up, they will have a union vote and bargain.

Rail unions have been in dispute with the rail employers conference for about three years now. Biden intervened to try and come to an agreement: rail workers get no paid sick days and are on call 24/7. The Biden agreement got them some excused unpaid days. Rail workers, including Teamsters, vote on that and may still strike if they reject the offer.

The largest Teamster employer has their contract up next year. The union has been talking about striking over part-time jobs that have been replacing full-time benefitted positions as the company reports record profits. UPS workers have been pushing for air conditioning in delivery vehicles & facilities after drivers died in this summer’s heatwave. 

The UPS local near us is Teamsters 344, with facilities in Middleton and East Madison.

Metro Briefs

Metro Retirees

Leo Vargas (shop)

Vacation Carryover

Vacation carryover requests must be submitted by the end of September. Unless there’s an agreement with the City, they’re sticking to one week carryover. Any updates on that would come from Rick / 695.

EPL Rules Changed in July

Mayor changed the rules for EPL so that you can no longer get it while seeking a diagnosis. You have to have evidence of a positive test, like a picture. (At-home tests are acceptable.)

Management updates

New Ops Supervisor: Will Henthorn (was a driver)

New Shop Manager: DeAndre Newson. Newson comes from Traffic Engineering where he was a manager for radio comms.

No flu shots at Metro this year.
If you want one, you have to go to a pharmacy or your doctor.

Metro Teamster #8

Big Management Expansion: More $$ At the Top

New Metro General Manager Justin Stuehrenberg is giving Metro a management restructure — bumping up General Supervisors to Managers and creating a set of super-managers above them in each department. The reasoning is that Metro is gonna expand and have multiple sites and BRT.

Til now, each department has had one Manager (Chris in Ops, Butler and now Erica in the Shop, Mick in Marketing, and Jennifer in Finance). The restructure means they’re promoting every General Supervisor (Phil & Jennifer in Ops; Fink in the Shop; Jessy in Marketing) to full managers, and then hiring someone above them.

What kind of money are we talking? Base pay for a General Sup is $87k. Managers get a base of $105k. (That’s a $20,000 raise!) The category managers (or whatever they will be called) will have to live in Madison, but will have a max pay of approximately $150k. A lot of the existing managers are pissed that they’d have to live in Madison to get the big bump.

Doing some quick math: at least four general sups got moved up to manager, which will cost $80,000. Add in four category managers for $150k each, that’s another $600k (not counting benefits).

Meanwhile, the number of mechanics at Metro has not been increased in at least 20 years, but there are many more buses. Inflation is at a record 9%, but no movement on hazard pay or retention bonuses.


Here’s a brief what you need to know.


Our union is called Teamsters, Local 695. A union is a workers’ organization: workers are union members, the members vote on representatives (stewards, officers) and approve or reject contracts that have been bargained. If you vote NO on a contract, you are saying you don’t think its acceptable or the bargain didn’t get all you think it could. The union our organization — it has problems, but they are our problems.

At Metro, people in the union are all the drivers, mechanics and shop workers, the customer service reps, finance clerks/techs, and paratransit coordinators. Outside Metro, the union represents mainly private sector employers at warehouses, food processing plants, concrete companies, manufacturing places, stuff like that.


The contract is an agreement between the union (representing us) and the employer (City of Madison) that spells out wages, working conditions, benefits, work rules, and so on. It’s a legally binding agreement. If the employer violates the agreement, we can file grievances (talk to your steward) – essentially a complaint that they broke their end of the deal.

Every contract is different and has its history about why things are the way they are. For us, there was a strike in the early 1980’s of bus drivers that the union won. Jayme J (who was part of the strike) said before he retired that the Mayor at the time conceded and said, “Give them whatever they want.” That victory is what established some of the best stuff in our contract: spread time, 40 hour guarantee, overtime language, etc.

Collective action is what makes the big leaps for contracts. Labor lawyer Bob Schwartz’s book, “No Contract, No Peace” explains it like contract time is war time where both sides try to make their advances, and the settled contract is a temporary peace.


The union has bargained raises for every represented worker (see the wage tables in the back of the contract). These are currently set for Jan 1. The rest of the City got a 0.5% raise, our raises are 2—2.5% each year (and we have maintained 100% paid healthcare).

When you read the contract, you have to read the entire section.

-Long-time practices and MOU’s are also part of the contract, even though they are not written in the book. You can grieve changes to past practice.


  • Deb B (driver)
  • David J (driver)

New people starting

  • Metro is desperate for drivers. Every place is trying to hire, but they’re especially hurting for bus drivers.

DRIVERS: There are three classes of new drivers right now; more than 20 people. Over the last year, only about half of new people have stuck it out.

Management Blotter

Shop: Fink promoted to manager
Ops: Jen Wiegert and Phil promoted to managers, same level as Chris
Planning: New planning manager, Sean Hedgpeth. Replaced Drew. Julian is gone as a planner.
Marketing: Jessy promoted to manager, same level as Mick. Jeremy is the new CSC supervisor

Teamster Updates

  • Still waiting for the WERC to issue a ruling about the City trying to remove Finance workers from our union. (Booooo!)
  • New Teamster General President (guy in charge of the entire union across the country): Sean O’Brien of the Teamsters United slate won against Steve Vairma, more than 2-to-1. O’Brien’s big thing is targeting UPS (workers there are Teamster) and talking about organizing Amazon into the union.
  • Teamster rail (BLET) contract goes to federal “cool-off”. Biden intervenes to prevent strike between railroaders and employers.

LABOR BEAT: Worker News from the US

  • Union workers at CUNA Mutual on Madion’s west side have been negotiating their contract this year. CUNA (finance & retirement corporation) made record profits but is trying to cut their health insurance and outsource their work. Their union, OPEIU 39, has been having pickets many Saturdays. HONK if you pass to show some love.
  • Workers at Starbucks have been filing for union elections across the country—more than 150 shops have won elections to be repp’d by Workers United (SEIU). In Madison, the Starbucks downtown just voted up the union there.