Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
The ad highlights a number of public officials and their salaries, next to Varga’s $199,555 per year. The list of officials includes the Administrator of NASA ($168,000), the mayor of Grand Rapids ($53,200), Grand Rapids City Manager ($154,211), Grand Rapids Police Chief ($121,000) and the Grand Rapids City Comptroller ($54,264). Varga makes more than all of them, and yet he recently proposed a fare increase.
The ad reads:
The Rapid CEO Peter Varga is paid nearly $200,000 per year, and that doesn’t even include perks like his taxpayer-funded car. Meanwhile, 26% of Grand Rapids residents live below the poverty line and middle class workers like the bus drivers at The Rapid struggle to hold on to the American Dream. Now, Varga is proposing to raise fares on riders and to eliminate the retirement security of Rapid workers.
The Grand Rapids’ transit workers union is currently in hostile negotiations with leaders of the Interurban Transit Partnersip, commonly known as The Rapid. Their contract expired on June 30, but are currently operating on an extension that run until the end of this month.
Members of the ATU have been fighting to bring publicity to the greed of their employer through the flyering of bus passengers, the newspaper ad this past weekend, through the presence of a 15-foot inflatable camel at the Central Station last week, and a solidarity march to city hall on Friday with other unions and supporters.
Members of ATU Local 836 are fighting to earn wages that will sustain their families as the cost of living rises, to do their jobs without fear of violence at work, and to retire with security and dignity.