Labor negotiations reach "impasse" - Offers sent to Employment Relations Board today
by Neil McFarlane, General Manager — last modified Jul 21, 2010 01:41 PM
As many of you know, contract negotiations with the ATU have been underway for the past several months. These negotiations are governed by a set of rules and protocols established by state law.
The negotiations between TriMet and the ATU have not resulted in an agreement. A mediator was selected to help the parties resolve their differences, but, unfortunately, the parties did not reach an agreement. A formal “impasse” has been declared, and both parties submitted their “Final Offer” to the Employment Relations Board (ERB) today and these offers are considered public documents.
Following the submittal of the “Final Offers”, it is important to keep in mind that there is still opportunity to continue negotiations, and for the parties to make modifications to their “Final Offers”. However, if no agreement is reached, both TriMet and the ATU will submit their last best offer packages to an arbitrator. The arbitrator will gather information and will select one of the proposals. At that point, the contract is final and binding upon the parties and is not submitted for an employee vote.
In addition to understanding the process, I want you to know my philosophy as we move forward with these final steps. The TriMet Board has outlined a policy statement which helps guide the agency’s negotiations to “bring TriMet’s health care and post employment benefits in line with a sustainable financial forecast of future TriMet revenues.” This will allow us to continue to fund high quality and cost effective transit service, now and in the future. It is my job to be the financial steward of the agency and work toward that sustainable structure.
It is no secret that continued escalation of health care costs will not provide the sustainable financial structure we need. TriMet’s total costs to cover all employee and retiree health care have more than doubled between FY03 and FY10. To maintain public support, we also must provide benefits that are in line with other government agencies.
I also believe that every employee deserves a living wage and high quality health care, and want to assure you that no matter what, we will still have among the highest quality benefits in our region and state.
The work and contribution of TriMet employees is the primary reason that our agency has been so successful. I am optimistic the process that we are now following will lead us to the proper balance of what’s right for our employees, our customers and our region.