King County Metro union increases salaries, training with new 3-year labor deal

Aug 21, 2023, 10:33 AM | Updated: 11:36 am

king county metro union...

King County Metro bus stop (Joe A. Kunzler Photo/Flickr)

(Joe A. Kunzler Photo/Flickr)

King County Metro and its largest union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, finalized a new three-year labor contract that increases wages by approximately 17% over the life of the contract.

The agreement also includes a lump sum retroactive payment, a retention bonus of $2,500, and a one-time $2,500 ratification signing bonus. The deal was ratified August 15 after both parties reached a tentative agreement in June. Negotiations started in May 2022.

More on King County Metro: King County Metro installs air monitors to study effects of fentanyl

“King County Metro, one of the nation’s most successful transit agencies, provides essential service to the people of King County, day in and day out, linking residents to work, school, play, and everywhere in between,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “None of that outstanding service would be possible without the people who drive the buses and maintain the fleet, and we’re excited to have this new agreement in place.”

The contract also shortens the pay step progression and vacation accrual time for part-time transit operators, with those policies now aligning with what full-time employees earn.

Staffing has been a critical hindrance to King County Metro’s efficiency, as the department has had to cancel and suspend multiple weekday routes and bus routes over the summer. Due to being understaffed, King County Metro suspended routes 16, 232, 273, 301, 304, and 320, with some alternative routes created in their place.

The King County Council’s Transit Committee met earlier this year to come up with solutions to keep the public transportation service viable despite the department’s staffing issues. According to the committee, service reductions would ensure that King County Metro Transit’s schedule would not exceed its operational capacity.

More on King County Metro’s staffing: King County Metro suspending 20 bus routes due to lack of drivers and mechanics

To help mitigate the lack of a full staff, the adopted union contract is providing incentives for new hires, including a $3,000 recruitment bonus in key positions — transit operators, mechanics, and information specialists, among other roles.

“These are opportunities that current transit workers deserve,”  Ken Price, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, wrote in a prepared statement. “And they will help us bring more workers into the workforce to meet the needs of our county.”

The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the U.S. and Canada, with Local 587 representing King County employees who operate and maintain Metro buses, Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail, and the Seattle Streetcar.

An audit published earlier this year from the King County Auditor’s Office found that the department consistently failed to meet deadlines on significant capital projects, leading to extended deadlines and delays, as well as King County Metro routinely going over budget. The Auditor’s Office flagged the department’s lack of estimation standards, not tailoring its processes to the variety of Metro Transit’s capital projects, and failing to collect and record the processes involved in past projects to analyze the mistakes made as some of King County Metro’s most immediate issues.

But one of King County Metro’s most immediate goals was to finalize an agreement between itself and its Local 587 employees, and with that agreement now in place, the department can look to further work towards its simple ambition: Make public transportation come more often, take people farther, and drop them off faster.

More on WA roads: Damaged bridge over SR 518 closes near Sea-Tac Airport for repairs

“The ratification of this agreement marks a key milestone in our longstanding partnership and demonstrates our shared commitment to invest in the members of the country’s finest public transportation workforce,” Metro General Manager Michelle Allison said. “We are proud of this partnership and the work we’ve done together. This agreement strengthens that foundation as we move forward.”

The contract awaits final action by the King County Council.

Local News

autumn leaves...

Micki Gamez

Fall is coming to Western Washington and it will bring changing leaves

In about two weeks, Washington's autumn leaves should turn to gorgeous shades of orange, yellow and red throughout the Puget Sound area.

4 hours ago

driving school...

Sam Campbell

‘There’s no money’: Thieves break into driving school twice in last 6 months

The group of four suspects were last seen, all wearing masks, getting into a black sedan. Authorities released no further description.

4 hours ago


Heather Bosch

King County overdose deaths soar while experts worry new drug laws won’t help

From January through August, King County Emergency Medical Services responded to 5,645 overdoses while SFD responded to another 4,000.

4 hours ago

Image: Memorial Stadium was built in 1947 in honor of Seattle Public Schools alums who died in Worl...

Bill Kaczaraba

Redevelopment of Seattle’s Memorial Stadium takes another step forward

A Seattle City Council committee unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to support the joint efforts of the Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Center to advance plans to redevelop Memorial Stadium.

6 hours ago

seattle fentanyl...

Frank Sumrall

Police: Fentanyl pills being sold for as little as 40 cents in Seattle

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the CDC.

8 hours ago


David Bauder, The Associated Press

Rupert Murdoch, whose creation of Fox News made him a force in American politics, is stepping down

Murdoch inherited a newspaper in Adelaide, Australia, from his father in 1952 and eventually built a news and entertainment enterprise.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

King County Metro union increases salaries, training with new 3-year labor deal