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Transit union contract gets ‘no recommendation’

“We simply can’t pay for all this stuff.”

That’s what Councilwoman Liz Miele, chair of the council finance committee, said Tuesday as the committee gave a proposed five-year contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1496, representing River Valley Transit employees, no recommendation.

Proposed salary increases and bountiful medical insurance for retirees were unacceptable to some council members.

The salary increases as proposed are 3 percent for three years, and 2.5 percent for the last two, Mayor Derek Slaughter said, adding “the contract negotiation is a starting point.”

“Our goal is to gradually reduce legacy costs with each contract,” Slaughter said.

“We will be paying medical insurance for retirees until the day they die,” Councilwoman Bonnie Katz said. “I don’t begrudge people,” Katz said. “We have to think of our taxpayers and who is footing this bill.”

Over the life of the proposed contract, the union and

administration met mutual terms to reduce the expected costs by a minimum of $679,000, said Adam Winder, River Valley Transit general manager.

“That is assuming single versus family health care coverage and other factors such as what was eliminated for new hires,” he said.

“That equates to $170,000 a year, which is good,” Miele said.

Sixteen new hires at River Valley Transit would be paid 90 percent of their annual salary until they work for three years, Winder said.

Insurance co-pay is 25 percent for the first year and over course of six years the employees pay nothing, Winder said. “Every year the co-pay drops by 5 percent.”

“We agreed new hires will not receive that,” Winder said. “We removed a $5,000 sign-on bonus and locked in a tiered-health care system for current employees.”

Council is expected to take up the proposed contract Thursday night.

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