Scores of MARTA bus drivers have called in sick this week, disrupting at least 250 routes. (AJC FILE PHOTO/DAVID BARNES)

NEW DETAILS: Union to vote on MARTA contract that could end bus disruption

Union members will vote on a new MARTA labor agreement Saturday – a contract that could bring an end to protest that have disrupted bus service this week.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732 has scheduled an all-day vote on a contract that would give workers an across-the-board 3 percent raise for three years. The union represents 2,661 of MARTA’s 4,368 employees.

The ATU and MARTA signed the tentative agreement last Saturday. But that has not stopped scores of bus drivers from calling in sick this week, disrupting about 250 routes Monday through Wednesday.

The number of drivers calling in sick has diminished over the week – 54 called in sick Thursday, compared to 130 on Monday. MARTA says about 20 of its 1,248 bus drivers call in sick on a typical day.

It’s unclear how many workers called in Friday morning. But MARTA announced fewer bus route disruptions than on previous days, and spokeswoman Stephany Fisher confirmed the number of workers calling in sick had diminished.

The labor unrest has not affected MARTA rail service – a key means of transportation to the Super Bowl events Atlanta his hosting this week. But it potentially has disrupted the lives of thousands of residents who depend on buses to get around.

MARTA has accused the union of coordinating the sickout, despite the ATU’s insistence that it’s had nothing to do with it. On Thursday, they negotiated a consent order – signed by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance Russell – that requires the union to refrain from encouraging employees to strike, call in sick or otherwise stop work in violation of their contract or state law.

Union leaders and members could be held in contempt of court if they participate in an illegal work stoppage.

In addition to the 3 percent raises, the proposed labor agreement would pay a 25-cents-an-hour longevity premium to all employees with 20 or more years of service, give an immediate “parity pay adjustment” of 50 cents an hour to all bus and rail operators and $1 an hour for mechanics and other skilled technicians.

The agreement would provide a $1,000 retro/ratification payment for full-time employees and $500 for part-timers if the agreement is ratified by March 1.

MARTA bus drivers currently make $15.40 to $21.99 per hour.

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