Grand Rapids bus drivers working without contract, future of pension plan uncertain

Sep 1, 2015

The Rapid Central Station
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Leaders of the bus system in Grand Rapids and the union representing mechanics and drivers have not been able to reach an agreement over a retirement plan.

That means The Rapid will no longer collect dues on behalf of the union. But The Rapid's spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says pay and benefits will remain the same for now.

“We’re reviewing our options on what happens next,” Kalczuk said.

Without an agreement, The Rapid's board could begin the process of terminating the existing defined benefits plan. But Kalczuk says the board still hopes to come to some agreement. The board meets once a month.

“We’re looking to balance fiscal responsibilities and provide reasonable and fair pay and benefits” for employees, Kalczuk said.

Management wants the underfunded defined benefit plan replaced with a 401(k)-style plan. They say they’re open to employees contributing more to save the pension plan. But union leaders say they’ve offered that.

Regardless, the contract expired Monday at midnight when they didn't reach a deal.

Riders shouldn’t notice a difference.

Union leaders did not reply to requests for comment on this story.