A group of 10 bus drivers employed by Columbia Area Transit in Hood River unanimously approved their first union contract, after joining Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 last August.
The agreement provides an immediate 10 percent raise followed by three annual raises totaling 8.7 percent over the life of the four-year agreement. Wages currently range from $12 to $16 an hour depending on experience. Under the new union wage scale, newly hired drivers will start at $14.41 an hour and rise to $20.20 after 10 years.
Drivers will also get a one-time $400 retention bonus next July; employee-only health insurance, with an option to buy up for dependents; and a 401(k)-style retirement plan with an employer match of up to 3 percent of gross wages that employees elect to contribute. Lastly, the two sides agreed to meet to discuss whether Columbia Area Transit can contract out its planned Columbia Gorge express service to Portland.