Officials: 4-year deal with largest MBTA union to save $80M

Markets Associated Press

A contract negotiated with the region's largest transit union will save the cash-strapped Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority more than $80 million over the next four years, officials said Monday.

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Under the deal, the 4,100-member Boston Carmen's Union Local 589 will forgo a 2.5 percent pay raise that was scheduled for June. But in exchange, most union members including bus and subway drivers and bus maintenance workers would be protected from having their jobs outsourced over the next four years.

The contract was approved by the fiscal control board that oversees the MBTA after being ratified over the weekend by union members.

The agency's acting general manager, Brian Shortsleeve, said the agreement marked a change in what has been an often combative relationship between the T and the union.

"We are pleased that the MBTA and Local 589 were able to find common ground on a game plan that will improve the MBTA's cost structure by altering the status quo in a way that will improve service for riders, fiscal accountability for taxpayers, and provide stability to our employees," Shortsleeve said in a statement.

After forgoing the previously negotiated pay raise next year, union members will receive pay hikes of 1.5 percent in 2018 and 2019 and 2.5 percent in 2020. Wages for newly hired bus and rail operators would be lowered.

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The union's president, James O'Brien, said the deal was about job security and limits on privatization.

The agreement changes work rules to prohibit employees from collecting overtime unless they've already worked at least 40 hours in a week. It also creates a pilot program that would offer an option of a four-day, 10-hour-per-day work week for bus and rail operators.

The changes could save $750 million over the next 25 years, MBTA officials said.