LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – CATA bus drivers and maintenance workers have a new contract after officials with the public transit service said will improve pay and overtime structure.

The last time CATA bus drivers had a contract was in November 2019.

Three years later, a new contract brings with it pay increases as well as reduces the time to get to a top-earning position.

CATA board members said this agreement means a new chapter ahead for the service.

With a final vote, three years of contract negotiations came to an end. The final vote by the CATA Board of Directors comes a day after bargaining members of ATU Local 1039, the union representing bus drivers and other workers, held their own vote to approve the new contract.
Under the agreement, wages would increase by nearly 18%.

That would rise top-earning pay from $27.78 per hour to slightly more than $30 an hour.
CATA officials say there would be more pay increases during the lifetime of the contract ranging from 2.5% to 3%. Administrators tout the new contract as a win for both the bus service and workers.

“Though it was at times a battle of wills, I’m proud to say, in the end, both parties committed to and achieved a fair and equitable contract for all stakeholders,” said CATA CEO Bradley Funkhouser in a statement.

“These conversations are not always easy. But I appricate that throughout that I don’t think there’s been a person from either of the negotiating team or around this board table. Any employee of CATA or otherwise who hasn’t been genuinely focused on this organization’s mission,” said CATA chairperson Nathan Triplett.

The new contract also shortens the length of time it would take an employee to reach the top pay rate from four to two years. Officials say the overtime structure was changed to end daily overtime, now overtime will come at the end of a 40-hour work week.

“We are happy to have an agreement in place and we anticipate moving forward with our mission of proving the best transportation services possible to everyone in the CATA service area,” said Union President Steve Soliz.

For some board members, the agreements mean being able to shift focus on expanding the service area and improving CATA.

“That we are really entering a whole new world of relationships with our drivers,” said board member Mike Grebner.

CATA leaders say the contract will also distribute work equally throughout the fleet of drivers. It goes into effect next week and will last through 2025.