How do RTD’s new union wages compare to other professions?

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver’s metro transit system may now have less trouble attracting workers.

The union representing RTD has won a new contract for its workers which will increase wages by 25% over the next three years. The starting hourly wage for bus and light rail workers will increase from $20.58 to $24. General repair mechanics will earn $30.25, electrical mechanics will earn $33.77, and signal/traction power maintainers will earn $35.65, among other positions.

The transit company has struggled with understaffing in recent years, with low pay and sometimes unsafe conditions cited as contributors.

In some areas, wage increases will bring RTD employees up to industry level. Starting salaries for the entry-level position of bus or railroad operator now match the most recent average salary available to Colorado railroad operators. Artists and sheet metal workers do the same.

These other wage increases align some RTD jobs with jobs that require more education.

An RTD track maintainer now earns roughly the same as a dietitian or nutritionist. General bus mechanics do the same as a paralegal. A Journeyman Electrician does what a Cardiovascular Technician does.

A signal maintainer for RTD explains what a wellhead pump attendant does on an oilfield — a job that doesn’t require a degree but pays more than the national average wage.

RTD union wage increases are well ahead of the pace of inflation, which is expected to rise by 25% over three years with an immediate increase of 16%.

This reflects the wage gains made by low- and middle-wage workers over the past two years. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the bottom 25% of earners have seen the strongest wage growth since the economy rebounded from the early lockdowns of the COVID pandemic.

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