Twin Cities Metro Transit bus drivers have overwhemingly rejected a contract offer from the transit agency, according to union officials.
The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 2,300 drivers, said 98 percent of those who returned ballots voted to reject the contract.
Three days of mediation are scheduled to start next Monday. No work stoppage is planned at this point, according to Michelle Sommers, the union's executive director.
Sommers says the Metro Transit offer calls for a wage freeze for two years, and higher employee costs for health insurance.
"They want the copay to more than double from what it currently is, and premium increases, so a combination of both," she said.
Sommers says union member wages range from $16 to $24 per hour.
Tom Weaver, regional administrator of the Metropolitan Council, issued a statement saying Metro Transit is operating within severe budgetary constraints. He said the agency is prepared to return to mediation and see if it can address some of the ATU's concerns.
The last transit union strike in the Twin Cities was in 2004. It caused a sharp ridership drop that didn't return to prestrike levels for several years.
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