Politics & Government

Pierce Transit board approves nonunion raises

Pierce Transit’s nonunion employees will receive their first cost-of-living adjustments in more than five years.

The workers will receive a 1.5 percent COLA on Dec. 1 and another 2 percent hike on May 1.

The Pierce Transit board approved the raises Monday.

The salary increase will go to managers and nonmanagers and employees in areas such as information technology, operations, marketing, finance, planning and human resources. None has received a cost-of-living adjustment since July 1, 2009.

Nonunion employees also would receive a second personal holiday annually, which union employees already get.

Meanwhile, the largest local transit union is currently in negotiations with Pierce Transit. The agency employs about 740 drivers, mechanics and other direct service workers who are part of the same union. Their last raise was in 2010.

Of the agency’s 836 employees, about 120 are nonunion. A few nonunion employees are expected to continue at or above the maximum of their salary range. They will not receive the COLAs.

This year’s COLA will cost $53,379 for the one month. The cost for both COLAs in 2015 will be $399,155.

A staff report recommended the raises “as the agency recovers from the recession and returns to normal business operations.”

Inflation increased by 8.45 percent in the Puget Sound area between the end of 2009 and August of this year.

Calling the raises “appropriate and needed,” the report said, “Pierce Transit seeks to remain an employer of choice and be able to attract and retain top talent.”

Pierce Transit’s union for bus drivers agreed to no COLA in their three-year contract that expired June 30. Prior to that, drivers received annual wage increases of at least 3.5 percent over their previous contract, including a 4 percent pay hike in 2010.

The COLAs for nonunion employees are intended to provide parity with raises awarded the bus system’s smaller union, the International Association of Machinists. It consists of 14 public safety officers.

That group agreed to a four-year contract this fall that awards four consecutive years of COLAs: 1.5 percent in 2014; 2 percent in 2015; 2 percent in 2016; and 2.5 percent in 2017.