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No decision on union negotiations at Wednesday Rapid transit meeting

Hilary Farrell

Rapid bus line employees, union membership and supporters filled the chambers of an Interurban Transit Partnership board meeting Wednesday, asking for an extension to contract negotiations and speaking out against proposed retirement plan changes.

RiChard Jackson is the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 836, which represents Rapid employees.

“We’re scheduled to bargain on August 31. And the contract extension expires on the 29th," he says. "If we don’t get an extension tonight, they’re going to unilaterally impose, and terminate our pension plan. Wipe away, with one swipe of the pen. ” 

No decision was brought forward by the board at Wednesday’s meeting, following more than an hour of closed session. 

“It was good – the board gave an opportunity for people to make public comment and they did hear people," Rapid CEO Peter Varga says. "I would say they did sincerely hear people.”

Varga says he expects a statement on behalf of the transit authority at some point on Thursday.

A hearing on a lawsuit filed earlier this week by union representation is also scheduled for Thursday. It comes after Rapid leadership allegedly prohibited the passing out of critical flyers at Central Station and other locations.

One change did occur at the meeting: a previously-recommended “long-term care” health benefit as an addition to Varga’s employment package and annual compensation review.

The benefit was removed at his request following a brief uproar and walk-out by the majority of meeting attendees. 

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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