The Metro transit system in the nation’s capitol must provide $82 million to fund 1.6% annual wage increases to thousands of workers by summer 2020 following the decision of an arbitration board. While Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 had asked for 4% annually, the union has said it will accept it under the current circumstances. The two sides had been unable to reach an agreement on a replacement contract to the one that expired July 2016.
However, it wasn’t completely positive for the workers. Employees must now increase their contribution to health care costs from 17% to 20% and pay increased deductibles and copays. The arbitrator did now agree to Metros ask that future hires be switched to a 401(k) instead of the current Metro retirement system.
The union says that the contract award will not eliminate many of the issues—disciplinary disputes, elimination of jobs, and possible privatization—that are at the root of conflicts with management. Earlier this summer union members voted to authorize a strike and have said they won’t be backing down from that threat.