By Don McIntosh
Given a tight labor market and especially a driver shortage, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 recently negotiated big wage increases in several Portland-area bargaining units.
The biggest were at First Student, which provides school bus service to Portland Public Schools. Local 757 agreed to reopen its current contract there, and negotiated an immediate $6 an hour increase for about 300 workers. The two sides extended the contract through Aug. 31, 2027, and the top wage in the final year will be $36.95 an hour. Local 757 president Shirley Block said members were ecstatic, jumping up and down at the Oct. 15 ratification meeting.
Another group of drivers who work directly for Portland Public Schools also got raises of $3 an hour, bringing them to a starting wage of $22.64 and a top wage of $31.58.
About 215 paratransit drivers working for a TriMet contractor also won big raises. Earlier this year, TriMet canceled its contract with First Transit to operate TriMet Lift and gave it instead to a company called TransDev. Local 757 met with the new contractor and after a rocky start was able to negotiate similar contract terms, plus improved medical insurance and raises of close to $3 an hour over the next three years. Ratified by members Oct. 25, it will increase the top wage rate from $28.02 currently to $30.90 in 2024.
Block said every transit district the union represents is currently hiring drivers.