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Columbia labor union rallies for wage increase and better working conditions

Local union members and supporters held signs and chanted in front of Daniel Boone City Building Monday evening, rallying for a minimum 10-percent wage increase and a stop to public transit cuts.

Columbia’s Laborers International Union of North America Local 955 and Missouri Jobs with Justice organized the rally to support their members.

Ralliers called for what the Columbia Missourian referred to as a “step-based pay system that would provide incremental raises annually.”

City workers say they are understaffed and working long hours to compensate.

Union representative Andrew Hutchinson said the city of Columbia hasn’t hired a new mechanic in nearly two years, and the mechanics they have aren’t able to keep up with the constant maintenance buses and trucks need.

Hutchinson said the proposed changes would attract more workers and help the city’s labor shortage.

Union member Melvin Stapleton said the city is considering combining bus routes, which would double the 45 minute route currently in place.

“In order to get the decent staffing, you have to up the pay, because otherwise, the drivers that have CDLs, they'll go work for another company that pays what they're looking for,” Stapleton said.

Signs at the rally read slogans such as “stop the cuts,” “living wage now” and “essential workers deserve essential pay.”

Also a part of the crowd was Glenn Robertson, a construction worker for the street and trash departments.

“It hurts family life when you have to work 60, 70 hours a week, you know, and then you don't really get a lot of money,” Robertson said.

He attended the rally to show support for union workers, who he said deserve better working conditions.

Abby Lee is a student at the University of Missouri studying journalism and women’s and gender studies. She has interned with mxdwn Music and The Missouri Review.