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CATA Workers Ask For More From Private Contractor

CATA paratransit workers are demanding more from their private contractor. A small group of workers makes $10-13 less than fixed route drivers. They rallied outside of the City Council meeting Monday.
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CATA paratransit workers are demanding more from their private contractor. A small group of workers makes $10-13 less than fixed route drivers. They rallied outside of the City Council meeting Monday.

A small group of Capital Area Transit Authority workers are feuding with the international private contractor that CATA uses for some of their serivces. They rallied outside of the Lansing City Council meeting Monday night. WKAR’s politics reporter Abigail Censky talked to Lansing State Journal reporter Megan Banta about the latest in the dispute between the workers and TransDev.

Interview Highlights

Workers Want More

“They are pushing for better wages, more affordable benefits and better working conditions. Because the building that they're working in right now is kind of falling apart. They showed me a lot of pictures of like holes in the wall leaning out to that directly to the outside. And this is the same building where they're storing all of these vans. So, it's not exactly ideal conditions.”

The group of workers demanding living wages and better working conditions aren’t the main line bus drivers. It’s a group of around 90 employees responsible for CATA’s paratransit, connector and rural services. They’re feuding with the international contractor Transdev that CATA has a contract with to provide these services. The contractor is French and is a public private transit operator that works with local governments in 20 different countries.

Contracting To Cut Costs

“At first, I thought that there might be a lot more of a bigger picture just because we weren't clear at first but it was a different labor union. But I do think that this plays a little bit into their financial troubles because they've talked before about how these contracts help them save money. And that's been a lot of their financial issues is trying to make sure that they keep their budget, you know, low.”

The past several years have been rocky for CATA with staffing shortfalls that led to excesses of overtime and extended recovery after massive  financial hardships. This dispute is the latest chapter of the organization trying to stabilize.

No Clear End In Sight

"So it seems like they think they might kind of continue to be at an impasse and not really be able to come to any kind of resolution. And they aren't really sure yet how that might affect the service. A lot of these people have said they really love their jobs. So I don't think they're going to be quitting anytime soon."

The dispute is not contained to Lansing, it stretches across the country to other local transit authorities that utilize Transdev as a contractor. Now, the group of workers demanding increased wages make $10-13 less than CATA’s fixed route workers, who are part of a different union. Both parties have been trying to reach an agreement on a new contract since the fall.

To find more of Megan's reporting on CATA click, here

Follow Megan on Twitter: @MeganBanta_1

Follow Abigail on Twitter: @AbigailCensky

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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