LA Bus Drivers’ Wage Increase Gets Green Light from Council

Following the $20 minimum wage for fast food workers that was implemented in California just this week, it seems as though pay rises are on trend. Los Angeles Council members have just approved a recommendation for a pay hike that will affect hundreds of workers. Here’s the full story.

LA Bus Drivers’ Wage Increase

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If you’re a bus driver in LA, you could be in luck, as a City Council Transportation Committee has just approved a recommendation that pushes for bus drivers, mechanics, and utility workers to earn $24.15 per hour.

Calls for Support

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Bus drivers in LA have long been pushing for added support. 

Challenges of the Job

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They’ve repeatedly expressed concerns to the city about being overworked and the safety risks they take on a daily basis, and while the city has installed barriers in some buses to prevent physical attacks, drivers have claimed this isn’t enough. 

Nationwide Bus Driver Shortage

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LA – and, in fact, most of the country – has been facing a serious bus driver shortage, brought on partly by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Impact of the Pandemic

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Changes in LA’s approach to hiring bus drivers, as well as current economic issues, have worsened the situation, and now buses are rarely on time – both passengers and staff are suffering.

“Overworked and Underpaid”

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“We are overworked, underpaid, and we deal with a lot of different people with different mental issues and illness,” bus driver Mataya Hayes told the committee.

Avoiding a Disaster

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Their local union, Teamsters Local 572, recently called for a strike, which City leaders are trying to avoid by any means. 

Union Demands

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Local 572 represents almost 400 hundred transport workers who demanded better working conditions and wages that are competitive with (or higher) than those offered by other transportation services in the city.

City Council Action

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Five members voted on the recommendation, passing four votes to 0, with one council member absent. 

Wage Hike Details

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The recommendation calls for increasing bus drivers’ minimum wage to $24.14 per hour this year and to $25.36 per hour in the 2024-25 fiscal year.

Voices of Experience

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“I work in the city, I live in the city, and I should be able to afford to live here,” stated Hayes, who’s been a bus driver for over ten years.

Contractor Collaboration

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LA outsources its hiring of bus drivers to MV Transportation and MV Public Transportation, contractors who handle the hiring and training.

The city will have to rewrite its contracts with the company to increase the base wage of its workers.

Eco-Friendly Initiatives

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In addition to a bump in bus drivers’ wages, Department of Transport officials promised 130 new electric buses. These all feature driver barriers and will be cheaper for the city overall. 

Transit Ambassador Program to Improve Safety

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The city is also considering implementing a transit ambassador program similar to an initiative by LA Metro to improve security, especially during nighttime and in high-risk areas. 

Collaborative Efforts

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The committee told the press that it plans to establish a safety committee to work with drivers and other transportation staff to enhance safety measures.

Negotiation Ahead

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City officials will meet with the union at a later date to negotiate terms. Union members are calling for a recruitment drive, better working conditions, and higher pay.

Addressing Turnover

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City officials hope that these improved wages and working conditions will help improve staff retention, a key issue fueling the driver shortage. 

Retention Challenges

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According to a recent report, “As recently as 2021, the largest share of employees leaving the company had a year or more of tenure, but throughout 2022 and 2023, more than half of all drivers who separated from employment had been with the contractor for less than three months.”

High Turnover Rates Among New Hires

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The report also states that in 2023, “slightly less than 60% of newly hired drivers left the company within (three) months, and over 80% left the company within the first year of their employment.”

Budget Allocation

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These new measures are estimated to cost the city $6.2 million per year, which is set to come from Proposition A Local Transit Assistance Fund.

Legislative Hurdle

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Although the transportation committee has approved this recommendation, it still needs full approval from the City Council before it’s implemented.

The post LA Bus Drivers’ Wage Increase Gets Green Light from Council first appeared on Wealthy Living.

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