After nearly a year of discussions and with no progress on a contract, TriMet declares impasse in contract negotiations

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Declaring impasse moves negotiations to the next step and closer to a new contract

After 15 negotiation sessions and four mediation sessions, but no headway on the major issues, TriMet today took the next step in the contract negotiation process and declared that negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 (ATU) have reached an impasse. This is the next 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.

The most significant roadblocks to a contract have been ATU’s insistence on:

  • Economic proposals of more than $100 million over a three-year contract at a time when the economy is reeling from a recession and TriMet’s revenues have plummeted. Specifically, in addition to existing step increases, 4% each year in across-the-board wage increases, additional wage increases for a large number of maintenance staff, early retirement and additional compensation for non-work time.
  • Continuation of the internal apprenticeship program that does not meet TriMet’s needs, is really an educational program TriMet is not suited to deliver in these changing times and is not delivering the quality outcomes needed in a cost effective manner.
  • Maintaining a work trading system, which allows certain operators to be paid for not working while TriMet has to fill work with overtime.

Since the summer of 2019, and starting formally in October 2019, TriMet has worked hard to negotiate a contract that is not only fair for our employees, but is also fair to our taxpayers and paying riders during this challenging economic time.

Though we are moving towards the next step, which is interest arbitration, TriMet remains open to further mediation with the ATU. However, our employees, TriMet and taxpayers deserve an orderly and timely resolution of the expired contract.

Background

  • The prior three-year contract between TriMet and the ATU expired on November 30, 2019.
  • After more than the 150-day bargaining period provided by state law for successor contract negotiations, the parties were unable to reach agreement.
  • On July 31, 2020, ATU requested a state mediator assist with negotiations. Four mediation sessions were held on September 3, 10, 17 and 23, but the parties remain far apart on most issues.
  • State law requires that after the minimum 15-day period of mediation, either party may declare an impasse. TriMet today sent notification of the impasse to the State Employment Relations Board (ERB).

Next steps

  • Within seven days after declaring impasse (October 9, 2020), each party submits its “Final Offer,” including any proposed contract language and each party’s cost summary related to issues where the parties have failed to reach agreement. ERB makes the Final Offers public.
  • If a tentative agreement is reached prior to binding arbitration, ATU members would vote to ratify the proposed contract and TriMet’s board of directors would also ratify the agreement. If no agreement is reached, the parties move into binding arbitration.
  • Following selection of an arbitrator and a 30-day cooling off period, each party submits its “Last Best Offer package” 14 days before the arbitration hearing. Following the hearing, the arbitrator selects only one of these offers. The arbitrator cannot combine elements from both offers.
  • The arbitrator’s selection of the offer is binding upon the parties. There is no vote by either side on an award made by the arbitrator. The arbitration award, results in the new collective bargaining contract between TriMet and the ATU for the term of the award.

The ATU represents more than 2,700 TriMet employees.

Follow updates at trimet.org/newcontract.