TriMet, transit workers union tentatively agree to extend contract to 2024

TriMet labor contract will likely be extended

TriMet reaches a tentative agreement to extend its labor contract to 2024. Mark Graves/StaffMark Graves


TriMet is expected to extend the labor contract for its workers until 2024, adding automatic pay raises for the drivers and mechanics it covers.

The agreement announced Wednesday marks an unusually amicable round of negotiations between the transit agency and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757. The current contract was inked in April 2021 after a year-and-a-half impasse.

It also comes as the agency faces a historic driver shortage that has caused it it to slash service, including on a long-anticipated Gresham-to-Portland rapid transit line that’s yet to open.

TriMet and the union, which represents about 2,700 of the agency’s employees, have tentatively agreed to extend the contract that was set to expire Nov. 30.

Pending approval by the union’s rank-and-file and the TriMet board, the extended contract will continue through November 2024 and maintain all the tenets of the current contract but with added wage increases. Union workers will get a 7.5% wage increase effective this December and a 4% increase effective a year later.

TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt said she’s not aware of any other contract rollovers in TriMet’s history. Discussions over the contract extension began in May, she said.

Bill Bradley, an executive board member for the union, said the wage increases are much larger than the previous contract’s raise schedule of between 2% and 3% each year.

“We know our members need a big boost to help with retention and give them peace of mind,” Bradley wrote in an email. “This is a good step forward and we’ll keep working to improve the wages and working conditions at TriMet.

The pandemic has put pressure on bus operators, both because of health concerns and an increase in assaults on drivers. Those safety issues, along with competition from companies that need commercial drivers, has led to the agency’s largest driver shortage in history.

The shortage has forced TriMet to cancel buses and MAX trips most days and to make long-term service cuts — despite efforts to recruit new drivers, including substantial hiring bonuses.

Bradley said union members will vote on the contract in the next few weeks, and then it will go before the TriMet board of directors.

-- Jayati Ramakrishnan