After many months of delays, TriMet is looking forward to resuming contract negotiations with the ATU. TriMet provided its proposal to the ATU and to the public via its website (www.trimet.org/newcontract) on November 30, 2012. The ATU has not yet provided its proposal.
TriMet wants to negotiate the contract to bring health care costs in line with peer agencies and the market. With the most generous benefits in the country, the agency is unable to restore or expand transit service due to these expensive benefits for active employees and retirees.
TriMet remains committed to having these bargaining sessions covered by the mainstream media so the public can be informed about the process. TriMet will also propose negotiation dates within the next week.
29 not 400+ proposals
Contrary to the ATU’s assertions, TriMet has offered 29 substantive proposals. There are a number of housekeeping proposals, such as correcting spelling and punctuation errors, and incorporating existing side agreements into the main body of the contract that do not change the wages, hours, benefits or working conditions of employees.
“We are encouraged by the ATU’s willingness to negotiate the next contract and we are hopeful that they are committed to substantive bargaining,” said TriMet Executive Director of Labor Relations and Human Resources Randy Stedman. “This represents a welcome change by the ATU as negotiations have been at a standstill for several months.”
Stedman suggested that the ATU may have realized that its refusal to bargain means less money in the pockets of union employees. Under existing law, once the existing contract expired, TriMet froze wages on December 1 and passed on the increased health care costs as of January 1. Union members had been paying zero of the health care premiums. As of January 1, they began paying a portion of their health care costs which now average 9.25 percent more for the preferred provider plan and 6.25 percent more for Kaiser. This means that active employees and retirees are paying more per month for their health care than if the contract were resolved and the union accepted TriMet’s offer.