After almost a year of rocky negotiations, TriMet and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 757 announced Nov. 10 they’ve reached tentative agreement on a new three-year contract covering 2,500 union-represented bus and light rail operators, mechanics, cleaners, and customer service representatives.
Local 757 President Shirley Block says the deal was struck after an 8 a.m. meeting over coffee and orange juice with TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, as the two sides prepared to go to binding arbitration. The final step in that process was for each side to make a final comprehensive contract proposal. TriMet included approximately 40 of ATU’s proposals in its final offer, and that proved to be enough to clinch the deal.
If ratified, the agreement will provide an immediate 3 percent raise retroactive to the Dec. 1, 2016 expiration of the previous contract; another raise of 3.25 percent Dec. 1; and a third raise of 3.25 percent on Dec. 1, 2018. It would also provide a one-time $1,000 payment to about 300 journey-level rail mechanics and a 6.6 percent step increase at the top of the scale for up to 300 workers who clean buses and light rail platforms. And it increases the night shift differential to $1 an hour (up from 25 cents) for maintenance employees, dispatchers, road and rail supervisors, and others.
TriMet dropped several proposals the union objected to, including one that would have reduced opportunities for service workers to apply for apprentice openings as mechanics. The agency also agreed to a cost-neutral health insurance plan change that will save retirees money.
The union agreed to allow light rail vehicles to be overhauled off-site by outside contractors, and it dropped its demand to return to a 90-10 health premium split.
The agreement now goes to union members for a ratification vote. If approved, the agreement would run through Nov. 30, 2019.