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The Capital Area Transit System’s bus operators are on track to receive pay raises next year as part of a newly negotiated agreement between CATS and its employees’ union.

Trainees will earn $14 an hour when they are starting out, and their salaries will increase to $15 an hour once they finish training. Pay scales will start at $15 an hour and increase to $19 an hour during the duration of nine years of employment.

In the past, the pay scale began at $13.25 an hour and would rise to $17.75 an hour over the course of 20 years.

The contract for the pay raises and other planned changes is valid though 2018. CATS CEO Bob Mirabito said in a statement that the pay increases should not inflate the agency’s payroll costs by more than 5 percent over the next two years.

Other modifications in the agreement include replacing sick days and vacation days with one category of paid time off, and adjusting overtime rules so that employees are eligible for overtime pay only after working more than 40 hours a week. Previously, CATS employees could receive overtime pay for working special events, despite how many other hours they worked that week.

“This contract will help CATS recruit new employees because they will be offered a more attractive salary and paid time off package,” Mirabito said. “The changes in overtime rules will ultimately save CATS money that will be used to offset the costs of these increased wages.”

The changes are not set in stone yet. The union voted to approve them, and the CATS Board of Commissioners will have to sign off on them at their December 14 meeting.

MORE COVERAGE:

–Dispute between CATS CEO Mirabito, union officials ends negotiating session before it starts; one official says he was fired at the meeting

–CATS chief in line for 19 percent pay raise: Bob Mirabito’s pay could jump to $175,000 a year

–CATS drivers picket, complain about condition of buses and management practices