Remember that study conducted by the right-leaning Washington Policy Center that pointed to some of the allegedly exorbitant salaries being pulled down by some King County METRO employees? Well, this morning, Amalgamated Transit Union President Paul Bachtel and the rest of the METRO union leadership invited reporters for a sit-down to discuss, among other things, how the Center's findings are misleading.
Probably the most brow-raising item in the report is the Center's claim that 20 King County Metro drivers are, with overtime, pulling down more than $100,000 per year, with another 243 making $75,000.
Those numbers don't include the total amount in benefits each driver receives from the county. Meanwhile, the Metro shareholders taskforce is projecting declining sales-tax induced budget shortfall of $600 million over the next three years.
The union doesn't dispute those findings per se. But Bachtel says that the report glosses over a few important details, like the cost of inflation, which according to the union has risen 27.4 percent in King County since 2000.
A driver at the top of the department pay scale makes $28.47 an hour. According to numbers compiled by the Metro stakeholder's task force, King County bus drivers are among the top three best paid in the nation.
But it takes an average of six years to get to reach the top pay tier, says Bachtel. And even at that rate, a driver would have to work 936 hours of overtime in a year to break $100,000. Few opt to work that much, says the union. And those that do work 7 days a week in conditions that sometimes force them to forgo potty breaks and deal with sometimes unruly passengers.
The union is currently in negotiations with the County on its next contract. Neither Bachtel or King County spokesperson Frank Abe will disclose details of the negotiations. The current contract expires October 31.