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Collective bargaining agreement increases Bloomington Transit wages

A photo of a Bloomington Transit bus from the front.

(WFIU/WTIU File Photo)

Bloomington Transit employees will receive significant pay raises over the next four years. 

Jeffrey Cisneros, AFSCME Local 613 president, said his union agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with BT management in late September. If approved by the BT Board of Directors, the new contract will take effect Jan. 1, 2022, and last through Dec. 31, 2025.  

“We made very strong pay gains across the board for everybody,” Cisneros said. “Drivers roughly made about a 24 to a 27 percent gain depending on what level of seniority they were at.” 

Cisneros said the new contract includes pay raises through an employee’s first four years. 

Starting in January, a new BT operator will make $19.02 per hour, a 14.2 percent increase from the current rate of $16.65. A driver staying with BT for more than four years will make $28.53 per hour, or more than $59,000 annually.  

Currently, the most senior drivers at BT make approximately $45,000 per year, or $22.53 per hour, after 19 years of service.  

In total, BT currently employees 53 fixed-route operators, 38 full-time and 15 part-time.

To front-load the wage increase, Cisneros said the new contract does not include pay raises at the 10-, 15-, and 20-year marks. However, he is hopeful an increase in wages will retain current drivers and recruit new ones.  

“You’re going to want to hang around, you’re going to want to be in this job,” he said. “What blue collar job offers that type of money?” 

In addition, Cisneros said BT mechanics were severely underpaid. Before overtime, they make about $23 per hour. At the end of the four-year contract, they will make $32.94 per hour.   

Jeffery Cisneros
Jeffrey Cisneros is president of AFSCME Local 613, the union that represent Bloomington Transit employees. (Devan Ridgway, WFIU/WTIU News)

John Connell, BT general manager, said one goal of the new agreement is to make BT a more attractive employer. He wants to offer people careers, not just jobs.   

“The goal is to make Bloomington Transit an employer of choice,” Connell said. “We want people to realize this is a career opportunity, our employees do great things in the community.” 

Connell said four new drivers are in training, but BT is continuing to accept applications.  

“I will say, it’s not the easiest job in the world- it has its challenges,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons it deserves a competitive wage.” 

The BT Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on approving the collective bargaining agreement at its Oct. 19 meeting.  

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