Everett Transit union drivers are to receive a 4.5% wage increase as part of the new three-year contract approved Wednesday. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

Everett Transit union drivers are to receive a 4.5% wage increase as part of the new three-year contract approved Wednesday. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

Everett Transit drivers, maintenance workers get pay bumps

The new three-year contract includes signing bonuses up to $3,000, 4.5% pay increases this year and up to 4.25% after that.

EVERETT — Everett Transit drivers, inspectors and maintenance workers are to get raises and bonuses up to $3,000 after approving a new contract.

The Everett City Council authorized Mayor Cassie Franklin to sign the three-year agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union 883 Wednesday night. It concludes negotiations that started in late fall.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 883 president Steve Oss, an Everett Transit employee for 26 years, said members overwhelmingly approved the collective bargaining agreement.

ATU 883’s roughly 100 members will get a $1,500 signing bonus. Then they’ll receive another $1,500 or 40 hours of vacation Dec. 1.

But Oss called the bonuses a “bribe” that enticed most of the union’s members to accept the deal instead of pushing for higher annual pay increases.

“We’re going to be falling behind on wages,” he said. “Our buying power has gone down in this contract. That’s hard to ever get back.”

The lump payments help cover the gap between inflation “near the highest level in 40 years” and the wage increase this year, city spokesperson Julio Cortes said. The bonuses also don’t count toward base pay and won’t factor into future years’ wage increases.

“The lump sum payments allow the employees to take home additional pay in the year of high inflation while allowing the city to control costs for the future,” Cortes said.

The agreement adds pay increases each year starting at 4.5% this year, then between 2.5% and 4.25% the next two years. Those bumps are 100% of the federal consumer price index for urban consumers, according to the agreement.

Para-transit drivers get another $0.25 per hour each year, and maintenance workers get another $0.25 this year only.

That pushes hourly wages to:

• $21.51 to $31.59 for para-transit drivers.

• $25.94 to $30.89 for maintenance staff.

• $27.66 to $35.37 for drivers.

• $40.68 to $43.83 for inspectors.

The union sought increases for para-transit drivers and maintenance staff to help their wages catch up to fixed-route drivers, Oss said. The agreement also now includes “just cause” to the discipline and termination process stemming from audio and video recording on buses.

When cameras were first installed on buses, the union fought to keep them from being used for discipline or employee evaluation. That’s changed in past contracts.

Now managers can review a limited amount of video for disciplinary purposes, starting three minutes before and ending three minutes after a “precipitating event.”

“It’s not whether or not you’re doing anything wrong,” Oss said. “Most people just don’t like the thought that everything they’re doing is subject to scrutiny.”

The new agreement also prohibits the city from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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