Metro Board approves new labor contract with provisions to grow ridership, improve customer service
Today, the Metro Board of Directors gave final approval to a new, four-year agreement between Metro and its largest union, ATU Local 689, which represents approximately 8,000 Metro employees, including all bus and train operators, station managers, and hundreds of other maintenance and support positions.
The result of months of direct collective bargaining between ATU L689 President Raymond Jackson and Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld, the agreement includes a 2.4 percent annual average wage increase for ATU Local 689 employees and, for the first time in Metro's history, incentivizes ridership growth with an additional one percent wage increase in years when Metro’s ridership improves two percent or more over the previous year. The current defined benefit pension program is preserved for current and new employees under the agreement, while increasing employee contributions to retiree health coverage.
“This agreement has pluses and minuses for both labor and management, but overall it treats our employees fairly, continues their good wages and benefits, and signals that they will be rewarded as Metro service improves,” said Metro Board Chair Paul Smedberg.
Overall, the agreement keeps Metro within a legally mandated annual subsidy growth rate of 3 percent, at a cost of $150 million over the next four years. It meets the criteria set out in Wiedefeld’s 2017 plan to Keep Metro Safe, Reliable, and Affordable, in which he committed to curbing operating cost growth as the region invested the capital necessary to restore safe and reliable service.
With the agreement in place, Metro will not seek to contract out operations or maintenance of the Silver Line extension, and will bring operation of the Cinder Bed Road Bus Garage in house when the current contract expires in 2021. The transit agency gains the ability to hire directly from the market employees needed to support the new Silver Line extension, as well as nearly a third of all station managers and train operators. Under all previous labor contracts throughout Metro’s 44-year history, Metro station managers and train operators could only be hired from its existing pool of bus operators.
“This agreement creates a foundation for us to improve customer service and grow ridership, all while living within mandated subsidy limits,” said Wiedefeld.