ATU 714 Partners with Greater Portland Metro to Develop New Apprenticeship Program
Members of ATU 714 and Greater Portland Metro management.
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 714 and Greater Portland Metro are launching a new apprenticeship program to train transit operators in the Southern Maine. The US Department of labor will provide the funding to set up the program.
“We are very proud to partner with Greater Portland Metro on this important training and workforce development program,” said ATU 714 President Joe Thomas. “This is really a win-win for transit operators and the company. Better trained drivers will not only provide a better and safer service to our riders, but it will also improve employee retention.”
Traditionally, training for transit operators focused on safe driving and less attention was paid to strengthening day-to-day relationships with passengers, according to the Transit Workforce Center, the Federal Transit Administration’s workforce development arm. However, these daily interactions can lead to elevated levels of stress that can harm the health of coach operators and impact their ability to do their jobs properly.
Previously, transit operators were classified as “unskilled,” so the ATU had to convince the Department of Labor that their members were actually skilled and needed to build a quality apprenticeship program like other skilled union trades. Thomas said the union will pick a coordinator to help run the program and pair new hires with other experienced transit operators. Mentors will then take them under their wing and help train them. Mentors will be paid anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per mentor a year.
“The success rate is higher if you’re in the program for at least a year. 85 percent who have finished the first year are retained and that’s what they’re looking for,” said Thomas.