TriMet declares impasse in contract negotiations

After an unsuccessful 14-hour mediator-led bargaining session on Aug. 16, TriMet has once again declared impasse in bargaining with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757.

Public transit workers aren’t allowed to strike under Oregon law. Instead, if the union and management can’t reach agreement, they present their final offers to a neutral arbitrator, who picks one side’s offer in its entirety.

This is the third time in a row that bargaining between TriMet and Local 757 has reached impasse. In 2010, the impasse led to arbitration, which the union lost. In 2014, the two sides kept meeting after the impasse declaration, and reached a deal. That contract expired Nov. 30, 2016.

“We are able to get collective bargaining agreements with 23 other employers,” says Jon Hunt, Local 757 vice president. “I know how to close a deal, and I know how to compromise. But I can also recognize when I’ve got somebody across the table that’s just playing games.”

Among the many points of disagreement: TriMet wants to cut contract language preventing the contracting out of union members’ work, curtail paid union orientation during employee training, and end a policy of giving cleaners and helpers first dibs when mechanic apprentice positions open up.

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