Local Government and Politics, News

MBTA deal will keep union workers at Lynn bus garage

Protesters at the MBTA garage on Western Avenue in Lynn in August 2017. (Owen O'Rourke/File photo)

The MBTA and Machinists Union have agreed to a collective bargaining agreement that promises to save union jobs at the Lynn bus maintenance facility and two other locations.

MBTA officials said the deal protects Local 264 to provide maintenance work for the system’s 955 buses while preserving the T’s right to seek other ways to reduce costs on bus maintenance. The deal also pledges a change of work rules that is expected to improve the productivity of the agency’s bus maintenance operation. Overall, the deal will save the state more than $60 million over the next decade.

The T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) had directed the T to save money in bus maintenance operations by negotiating with the unions representing T bus maintenance employees; Improve productivity through internal management changes; and issue a Request for Proposals to provide maintenance of MBTA-owned buses at up to three of the T’s nine bus maintenance garages, including the Lynn facility.

“This agreement, combined with significant cost savings the T has already achieved through internal management changes, means the Board does not need to further consider contracting out current bus maintenance operations at this time,” said FMCB Chairman Joseph Aiello in a statement.

The agreement with Local 264, which represents about 6 percent of all T employees, revises and extends the current contract through 2021.

It calls for the adoption of an overtime trigger that means union members can collect overtime pay only after 40 hours of regular weekly work. It also aligns the average annual rate of wage growth for Local 264 members with the overall rate of MBTA revenue growth. It also calls for modified wages for new bus machinists and fuelers.

The agreement creates more workplace flexibility for Local 264 members, including the possibility to schedule four-day work weeks at 10 hours per day.

Michael Vartabedian, area director of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said if the MBTA considers RFPs for potential garage expansions, they would be subject to protections for riders, workers and taxpayers.

“According to the terms of our agreement, all processes and quality standards would be identical to those in place now,” Vartabedian said in a statement. “We’re excited to have reached an agreement that includes these new, additional protections for riders, workers, and taxpayers beyond what existed previously.”

 

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