Declaring impasse moves negotiations to the next step and closer to a new contract
After 37 separate contract negotiation sessions since December 2012 and two mediation sessions, there has been no headway on major issues, so TriMet today took the next step in the negotiation process and declared that negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 (ATU) have reached an impasse. This is the next major step in the strike-prohibited bargaining process outlined by state statute. TriMet is required to take several steps for collective bargaining that can include negotiations, mediation and binding interest arbitration.
TriMet Executive Director of Labor Relations and Human Resources Randy Stedman said that the core issues in these negotiations are wages and healthcare costs.
“Since December 2012, we’ve worked hard to negotiate a contract that is very competitive for our employees and retirees, but also fair to our riders and taxpayers,” said Stedman. “We’re asking for our union employees and retirees to share in the cost of their healthcare benefits at a level comparable to TriMet’s peer transit agencies and with that, we’re able to ensure TriMet’s fiscal stability for years to come.”
Stedman added, “We remain open to further mediation with the ATU, but our employees deserve an orderly and timely resolution of the expired contract.”
ATU members have been working for nearly 18 months without a contract. Because healthcare cost increases are passed on to employees while they are between contracts, many of our employees are paying more for their health care benefits now than if they had accepted TriMet’s offer. Stedman concluded, “Even with our offer, active employees and existing retirees will have extraordinary healthcare benefits.”
An April 2014 valuation of the retiree healthcare liability, known as Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB), shows that the unfunded liability has increased from $852 million to $950 million, which is roughly twice the size of our annual operating budget.
The ATU represents more than 2,100 TriMet employees.