Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 998 Endorses Senator Chris Larson for Milwaukee County Executive
ATU Local 998’s recommendation of Chris Larson over the 5 year incumbent, County Executive Chris Abele, is based on the candidates’ records, experience, and support of not only transit workers, the riders ATU Local 998 members service every day.
The general election is April 5, 2016.
“Abele was worse for Milwaukee transit than Scott Walker,” said James Macon, President of ATU Local 998. “Abele tried to privatize the transit system to an out of state private company and forced the first transit strike in 37 years, something Scott Walker didn’t even do. ATU members have no confidence in Chris Abele’s competence as manager of Milwaukee’s transit system.”
Part-time vs Full-time Transit Workers
In 2015, Abele refused to bargain in contract negotiations with transit workers forcing the first strike in 37 years. Abele attempted to create a new tier of lower wage part-time transit workers with no benefits or pension. It is unlikely that the contract Abele was forcing on workers would have been able to attract and retain skilled drivers needed to move Milwaukee forward. Part-time transit workers simply cannot support full-time communities.
Senator Chris Larson, on the other hand, is a champion for working families and advocates for permanent family supporting jobs. Senator Larson believes that full-time, professional transit workers can move Milwaukee forward and has pledged to hold fair negotiations with transit workers.
Scott Walker left Milwaukee with some of the highest fares in the country, yet Abele has failed to roll back the high costs for riders and instead vetoed fare reduction programs.
Senator Larson agrees that Milwaukee transit fares are high compared to other cities and believes in making our transit system more accessible. Senator Larson is the only candidate that can regain Milwaukee County Transit System’s position as one of the nation’s best transit systems.
Route Expansion and Modernization
Abele takes credit for transit routes that were created while he was in office, boasting of new added route miles. The truth is, these route miles resulted from a civil rights lawsuit, not Abele’s leadership. When it was time for Abele to expand service, Abele vetoed bus extension routes to Oak Creek and Brown Deer, which would have connected central city residents with jobs. Fortunately, the County Board overrode his veto. Abele also vetoed transit modernization efforts for signal prioritization, which the County Board also overrode.
Senator Chris Larson knows transit is the economic backbone of the region and believes that expanding routes to get neighbors to jobs is good for working families and good for business. Senator Larson will fight for the modern transit system Milwaukee transit riders deserve.
Dedicated Funding Source
Milwaukee County has one of the last transit systems in the country without a dedicated source of funding. For 5 years, Abele worked with the State Legislature on legislation to dismantle critical services and fund the Bucks Arena. But he never engaged his friends in Madison to ensure the future of our transit system.
Senator Chris Larson understands the importance of securing a dedicated funding source and we trust that he has the experience needed to help bring Milwaukee County’s Transit System up to speed with the rest of the country.
Family Supporting Jobs
Milwaukee County Transit System employs a high number of African American men and women. At a time where the economic opportunity is limited for people of color, we witnessed Chris Abele seek to destroy family supporting employment opportunities for minorities. We also know that when Chris Abele was asked if he supported living wage jobs for service workers at the Bucks arena during a WisPolitics luncheon, he responded that he supported paying service workers the Federal Minimum wage, which is a mere $7.25 per hour.
The people of Milwaukee deserve better. Senator Larson believes workers should receive fair pay for an honest day's work. In 2014 Senator Chris Larson supported the living wage ordinance. In November of 2015, Senator Larson proposed Assembly Bill 264, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to a livable wage of $15 tied to the inflation index, by 2020.
The difference is clear, Chris Larson has proven record of fighting for working families.
In 2014, Chris Abele pushed to privatize the transit system to an out of state, for profit company. James Macon, president of ATU Local 998 said, “The politician who tried to sell the transit system shouldn’t be the one managing it.”
Chris Larson not only opposes the privatization of the Milwaukee County Transit System, but he opposes the privatization of our parks, airport, museum, zoo, schools, and valuable County services. Transit is the economic backbone of Milwaukee County. It’s what moves Milwaukee forward. ATU Local 998 members strongly believe that Chris Larson is a champion for transit workers and riders.
We are thrilled to have an opportunity to elect Chris Larson as our next County Executive!