LA City Council votes to increase wages for bus workers – NBC Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council Friday agreed to increase wages for city bus drivers, mechanics and utility workers.

The council voted 11-0 in support of the matter without discussion.

Council members Curren Price, Nithya Raman, Monica Rodriguez and Katy Yaroslavsky were absent during the vote.

On Wednesday, the council’s Transportation Committee voted 4-0 in favor of increasing the workers’ base wages up to $24.14 per hour starting this year — with plans to bump up wages to $25.36 per hour in the 2024-25 fiscal year. Raman, who sits on the committee, was absent during that vote.

The workers are hired and trained by contractors MV Transportation and MV Public Transportation, which is essentially the same company, with two different contracts covering different employees, according to city documents.

MV Public Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

City bus drivers and other workers represented by Teamsters Local 572 have lobbied for wages on par with or higher than other transportation services in the L.A. region. In March, the union said members voted to authorize a strike — though no action plans were disclosed.

Teamsters Local 572 represent about 360 MV Transportation workers, contracted with the city, who drive and maintain the city’s transit fleet, including DASH, Commuter Express, Cityride and LAnow. MV Transportation workers serve thousands of residents in downtown L.A. and areas such as Echo Park, Crenshaw, Fairfax, and those traveling through Union Station.

Prior to the committee vote, about 10 workers told the panel of council members they were overworked and feared for their safety. The city’s Department of Transportation highlighted several safety measures in place such as driver safety training, access to emergency dispatch services, cameras on board buses and driver barriers — with plans to add more.

Additionally, DOT officials said they are considering implementing a transit ambassador program, similar to an LA Metro initiative, to provide a greater sense of security at night and in “hot spot areas.”

The union is also asking the city to address a shortage of bus drivers, which could resolve the issue of employees being overworked.

According to a to DOT report, while the department and the contractor have made “strides” to fill vacancies, retention is a serious problem.

Officials say the higher wages may solve that issue.

Funding to cover the contract and increased wages would come from the Proposition A Local Transit Assistance Fund, according to the report.

City leaders have been aware of the union’s concerns. Council President Paul Krekorian and Councilwoman Heather Hutt, chair of the Transportation Committee, introduced a motion on Jan. 18, 2023, to address a bus driver shortage as well as to examine possible wage increases.

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