MBTA and Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 ratify collective bargaining agreement

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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After months of negotiations, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement.

The MBTA says the agreement “will save the MBTA $80 million over the next four years and more than $750 million over the next 25 years while also fundamentally reforming overtime and other long-standing work rules to lower MBTA costs and improve productivity.”

The agreement was ratified at a Local 589 membership meeting Sunday and approved by the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board on Dec. 19.

The agreement, which runs from January 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021, “protects certain elements of core work currently performed by Local 589 members, such as operating buses and subway vehicles,” the MBTA says. “The MBTA retains the right to reduce costs and innovate through flexible contracting in other areas, including possible new late night bus service and new bus routes, in-station customer service delivery, and the adoption of lifecycle maintenance programs for new vehicles.”

“Change is never easy, but this agreement marks a new day in the relationship between T management and its largest union,” said MBTA Acting GM Brian Shortsleeve, noted that this is the first time in more than a half century that a contract between the MBTA and the Carmen’s Union has been opened early. “We are pleased that the MBTA and Local 589 were able to find common ground on a game plan that will improve the MBTA’s cost structure by altering the status quo in a way that will improve service for riders, fiscal accountability for taxpayers, and provide stability to our employees.”

The MBTA says “while the agreement will significantly lower the projected rate of annual wage growth over the next four years for existing employees, it does not reduce their current wage rates. New bus and rail operators will start at lower wage rates but will still be able to achieve the top wage rates in their classifications though over a longer period of time.

“Work rule changes in the agreement mean Local 589 members will be eligible for overtime pay only after completing 40 hours of regularly scheduled weekly work. This will encourage employees to adhere to their regular work schedules, which will further build upon the T’s recent progress in reducing overtime costs and unscheduled absences, which lead to dropped trips and inconvenience for riders.”

In addition, Local 589 and the MBTA have agreed to a pilot program for a four-day work week for bus and rail operators, which will offer some operators an option to work their scheduled 40-hour week through four 10-hour days, rather than five eight-hour days.

Local 589 also agreed to adopt the use of modern software for the electronic scheduling of operator routes, replacing the current paper-based system.

Under the agreement, bereavement leave for Local 589 members expands from three to five days. And the T will increase its contributions to the Health and Welfare Trust by $400 per year, per subscriber beginning in July 2017 while eliminating Medicare Part B supplemental payments to upper income earners.

“This agreement is the result of a commitment by both parties to work together to bring greater value to our riders while creating a better and more productive environment for our employees,” said FMCB Chairman Joseph Aiello.









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