Mike Brown, front right, leads a group of ATU members and supporters around City Hall during a rally that started at the Joseph McCarthy Trans…
A member of the ATU holds a sign during a rally at the Joseph McCarthy Transit Center in Downtown on Wednesday.
A dozen off-duty transit workers and demonstrators gathered at the Downtown Kenosha Transfer Center to call for better pay and increased full-time staffing Wednesday morning.
Members and supporters of the ATU hold signs during a rally at the Joseph McCarthy Transit Center in Downtown on Wednesday.
Carrying signs and chanting at the Kenosha Transit Center, 724 54th St., the demonstrators expressed frustration with management over raises that failed to keep up with inflation.
Members and supporters of the ATU walk and chant around City Hall during a rally that began at the Joseph McCarthy Transit Center in Downtown …
Members and supporters of the ATU march during a rally at the Joseph McCarthy Transit Center in Downtown on Wednesday.
Organizers said negotiations with management have been going on since January, if not earlier, with little success.
Colvin Conley, a bus driver for three years, said that an increase of 12% was needed to match the wages of other transit workers in Wisconsin.
Mike Brown, center, leads a group of ATU members and supporters during a rally that started at the Joseph McCarthy Transit Center in Downtown …
“We want a fair wage, we’re being reasonable,” Conley said. “The raise they wanted to give, in this economy, is not going to work.”
Members and supporters of the ATU participate in a rally at the Joseph McCarthy Transit Center in Downtown on Wednesday.
According to the City of Kenosha website, the hourly pay range for part-time drivers is between $17 and $21. The hourly pay range for full-time drivers is between $21 and $26.
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That compares to a top pay rate of $28 in La Crosse according to Mike Brown, vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998, which was also currently under negotiations for pay increases.
Brown said the major issues in Kenosha pertained to pay and staffing. After facing health hazards through the pandemic as essential workers, Brown said transit workers deserved more support.
“Take care of the people who take care of your city,” Brown said. “What we’re asking for isn’t a lot.”
Sanika McKinney, a Kenosha bus driver, said negotiations had been difficult, leading to Wednesday’s rally.
“It’s like pulling teeth, we can’t get anywhere,” she said. “I’m hoping the city will see the drivers are willing to fight for a fair raise.”
Barb Garrett, a bus driver since 2006, said she’s seen more of her salary be eaten away by rising costs over the past few years.
“The pay raise has always been 2%, 4%,” Garrett said. “But now inflation is out of control.”
Garrett joked that she didn’t like going to the grocery store anymore, and has had to change her shopping habits.
“There’s things we’ve just stopped,” Garrett said. “We don’t get eggs much anymore.”
She too emphasized that transit workers had faced health hazards throughout the pandemic to keep public transit going.
“We’ve been here, we worked through COVID,” Garrett said. “We’ve been doing this because people need this, but we need to be compensated.”