TriMet wants two-year extension to its union contract (or does it?)

TriMet management likes the agency’s union contract so much that it’s proposing to extend it two years, along with two 3 percent raises.

On Thursday, May 12, TriMet labor relations director Randy Stedman faxed that proposal to Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 president Shirley Block

“In the spirit of labor-management cooperation and partnership, we would like to discuss an extension of the collective bargaining agreement for two additional years through November 30, 2018,” Stedman wrote.

The professed cooperative spirit lasted all of two business days: Monday morning, with no heads-up to Local 757 and before having heard back from the union, the transit agency issued a press release touting its offer to the public.

Is that how TriMet management thinks trust is built?

Returning a call from the Labor Press, TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch suggested that two days was enough time for the union to have notified its members about the offer.

The current TriMet union contract expires Nov. 30, and negotiations are expected to begin this summer.

But the current contract was the product of negotiations led by Bruce Hansen, Block’s predecessor as Local 757 president. Block ran on a platform that criticized that contract, and defeated Hansen last June, and again in an April 25 re-run election.

“Congratulations, again, on your re-election as president,” Stedman opens in his letter to Block.

Local 757 vice president Jon Hunt, reached by phone, said union officers are still discussing how to respond to the offer; union members are unhappy with health insurance concessions in the current contract, Hunt said.

MORE: See TriMet’s letter here.


UPDATE – 5/16/16 1 pm: Local 757 has issued its own press statement in response: “We have received TriMet’s request to extend the contract for two years. Any action on this offer will have to be presented to the membership for approval. The Union can not take a position on TriMet’s offer until it has been thoroughly reviewed and presented to our membership. We have a number of concerns about the current contract, and need the opportunity to engage our members on possible changes or solutions before we can accept or reject TriMet’s offer.  This is something which will be conducted by mail and we appreciate TriMet’s offer to cover the costs.”

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