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Dubuque Bus Drivers Want More Full-Time Positions

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - A part-time work schedule is once again frustrating city bus drivers in Dubuque. For almost a decade, their union has been asking the city to create more full-time positions.

Right now, 94 percent of the bus staff works part-time.
City leaders say it's easier to schedule part-time drivers, plus they say it's more cost effective because the city doesn't have to pay for health insurance for part timers.

But some bus drivers disagree.

Behind the wheel of a Dubuque city bus, a part-time driver earns about $16 per hour. They have to call it quits after putting in less than 32 hours each week.

"These people always want to excel and move up. That's what were fighting for these people to have a living wage most people are being paid below the poverty line," said Teamsters Local 120 Steward Wayne Strohmeyer.

The part-time bus drivers and union members are urging the city council to instead hire fewer part time bus drivers and bump more drivers up to full time status.

"Tthey would be able to have less drivers on board. Less drivers they'd have to train, less uniforms they'd have to pay for," Strohmeyer said.

But Inside City Hall, City Manager Mike Van Milligen says this current set-up is the most effective. "When we advertise for the opening we get plenty of applicants and when we hire somebody generally we hire long term," Van Milligen said.

According to Van Milligen, it would cost the tax payers much more if there the city employed more full time drivers.

The city offers free bus shuttle for downtown employees who park in the Port of Dubuque. It's an effort to relieve downtown parking congestion. The bus drivers suggest charging those workers and using that money to hire full-time drivers. Van Milligen says simply wouldn't generate enough money.

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