‘Wellbeing of the employees is not valued’: Security, pay top TARC union demands

The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) and its union employees appear to be miles apart when it comes to pay.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) and its union employees appear to be miles apart when it comes to pay.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local President Lillian Brents said TARC is offering 1% annual pay raises during the next 3-year contract.

“So we’ll initially be taking a pay cut considering when you talk about the gas prices, food, everything increasing,” Brents said.

The annual inflation rate jumped 9.1% in June, the biggest jump since November 1981, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The ATU argues 1% wage increases put employees even further behind the inflation curve.

A spokesperson for TARC, however, said the union is asking for a 50% wage increase for drivers over the 3-year deal.

TARC Marketing and Communications Director Jenny Recktenwald said in an email: “(Union-proposed) increases would equal a $55 million increase in TARC’s operating budget over the next three years, which would result in TARC running out of money by the end of 2024.”

The alternative, according to the union, would be TARC running out of drivers.

“They may leave it for various reasons, but when safety is not a priority, the wellbeing of the employees is not valued,” Brents said. “They leave for various reasons and they go to other jobs.”

The ATU has also complained of problems with security, from disruptive passengers to broken radios.

“When the pandemic began, TARC management called our members heroes for keeping Louisville moving, now they are treating them with disrespect while failing to address these serious safety concerns,” ATU International President John Costa said in a press release. “Time’s up TARC to give our members the contract and safety protections they deserve.”

“We are negotiating in good faith,” Recktenwald said, “and have responded in a timely manner to every proposal the Union has made.”

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