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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


King County transit union ratifies new three-year contract that saves costs, spares jobs, and preserves service

Summary

King County's largest labor union, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 587, has overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract that will enable more cost-effective delivery of transit service to the public, save $32 million over the term of the pact, and help close Metro Transit's funding gap by 20 percent.

Story

Amalgamated Transit UnionKing County's largest labor union, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 587, has overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract that will enable more cost-effective delivery of transit service to the public, save $32 million over the term of the pact, and help close Metro Transit's funding gap by 20 percent.

By voting to approve the new contract by more than 69 percent, the union's 3,800 members join a unified regional effort to work with the Legislature to address the volatility of the sales taxes that now provides the majority of funding for public transit by creating a more, sustainable source of revenue.

"Our bus operators hit the street every day to perform a tough job with professionalism and a strong sense of duty," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "I congratulate negotiators on both sides for bargaining so diligently in good faith, and I thank our employees for stepping up to preserve service to the public and partnering with us in the pursuit of sustainable funding for public transit."

"On behalf of the Officers and Membership of Local 587, I thank the Executive and his bargaining team for their professionalism in collaboratively reaching an equitable resolution in bargaining during a time of unprecedented revenue shortfalls," said Paul J. Bachtel, President of ATU Local 587. "In voting to accept this agreement our members have shown they want to be partners in helping to persuade the Legislature to provide stable funding for public transit."

By 2013 the ongoing annual cost savings in the contract are expected to preserve about 130,000 hours of bus service – about 20 percent of the 600,000 hours that under current financial plans must be cut by 2015 due to a steep drop in revenues. Among the contract provisions:

  • No wage increase in the first year, which runs from November 1 of this year through October 31, 2011.

  • A 0 percent COLA floor in the second and third years, in place of the 3 percent COLA floor that has historically been part of the ATU contract. This change is estimated to save $32 million over the three-year life of this contract and $12.9 million in ongoing annual savings by the third and final year, as well as preserve 130,000 hours of bus service.

  • A freeze in certain pay premiums and wage-related items, such as shift differentials, lead pay, and tool allowances.

  • In connection with negotiated changes that will save costs and increase efficiencies, the contract provides a wage increase of 0.7% on January 1, 2012 and 0.6% on November 1, 2012.

  • Work-rule changes that will help enable more cost-effective delivery of bus service to the public, including:

    • More cost-effective allocation of work between part-time and full-time transit operators, and

    • Development with the union of time standards in vehicle maintenance and the ability to purchase remanufactured components when it is economical to do so.

By showing respect for the needs and interests of Metro's represented employees, the new contract recognizes the years of collective bargaining history between King County and ATU, while at the same time securing meaningful cost savings and new efficiencies that respond to the needs of a modern transit agency in today's difficult financial climate.

"The labor contract we have negotiated with ATU will go a long way toward preserving both bus service and jobs in the face of this unprecedented economic downturn," said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. "In this new economy, we can all be proud of producing a labor agreement that reflects our shared values, while achieving greater efficiencies and providing the highest quality transit services possible."

The overall savings expected in the contract will help reduce future service reductions and job loss necessary to compensate for the well-documented decline in Metro's sales tax revenue. Nevertheless, even with the substantial savings associated with the ATU contract as well as wage freezes for most other Metro personnel, Metro Transit's financial outlook through 2015 will still require significant service reductions without new revenue. This revenue source will also be needed to plan for future growth of the bus system – the eighth-largest in the nation – as more potential riders move to this region in the coming years.

The new contract is one of several recent developments that will help Metro become more financially sound. Metro has already implemented efficiencies recommended in a 2010 performance audit. A Regional Transit Task Force report issued earlier this month recommended actions Metro can take to reduce costs and operate more efficiently. The County's bargaining effort was guided in part by the adoption of new labor policies by the Metropolitan King County Council.

The ATU contract confirms the number of King County workers waiving cost-of-living increases in 2011 at more than 12,000 out of a total of 13,400 – more than 90 percent of the entire King County workforce. Their actions will preserve $23.5 million across all funds in services to the public.

ATU Local 587 represents members who operate and maintain a fleet of 1,400 Metro buses, Sound Transit's Link Light Rail, and the South Lake Union Streetcar.

The contract must now be approved by the King County Council.

See more details at the ATU Local 587 Web site at: www.atu587.com



King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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