Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Proposed contract -by a union member who has really studied this

Here is the proposed part (phase I) of the new contract that gets to the heart of the new contract, retiree benefits (for the new hires after the arbitration). So far we know that the retirees that were hired before the arbitration, will receive a 90/10 in benefits upon retiring with 10yrs tenured (of this I may be wrong), for the Blue Cross medical package and I guess 100% from Kaiser. Since this according to the company is not the issue, going forward, just the structure is, and then we need to come up with a way to supplant their “standard” with one that is fair for both parties. Since their contention is that a retiree should not get 100% paid medical for life, and their spouse gets it 10-15 after they pass, this we need to work hard to get something that will be equal and beneficial to those retiring after the arbitration date. Here is what I found out, using the west coast transit agencies, and laying out where we should be, considering that we are better than those agencies:
In retirement going forward, there will be no 100% paid for life (this “is” the standard). Starting with early retirement; at age 55 + 8yrs of tenure (a new standard), a retiree can receive an 85/15 split with BBS, and 90/10 (of 100% if the company would accept) with Kaiser, until the employee becomes eligible for Medicare/Medicaid. This becomes the new standard for those who will retire after the date of the arbitration, or they could be placed under the Affordable Care Act, the new retiree could receive benefits until they reach Medicare and or Social Security age eligibility (Who can be an Early Retiree?
ANSWER: Generally, the term early retiree will apply to the early retiree (Subscriber) and an enrolled spouse, surviving spouse and/or dependent(s) (Members). When determining ERRP eligibility, all of the following must be true for the Subscriber before the Subscriber, or associated Member(s), can be considered for participation in ERRP. The Subscriber must be:
·         Age 55 and older,
·         Enrolled for health benefits in the certified employment-based plan identified on the application,
·         Not eligible for coverage under Medicare, (which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will verify upon receiving a sponsor's Early Retiree List), and
·         Not an active employee of the Plan Sponsor identified on the application (in accordance with the rules of the plan).
For more detailed information about who can be an early retiree, please see the early retiree-related Common Questions on the ERRP Public Website at
Also, this could apply to those who were hired before the Arbitration ruling (those who are on the 90/10 split) to be cut off at Medicare and or Social security age eligibility (with exceptions for those employees that have 20yrs or more of vested service, having 90/10 for their natural lives)
For those who are new hires after the arbitration date, are now under the standard “Deferred Compensation” package (Deferred Compensation Plan, a Deferred Compensation Plan Section 457 (a plan for public employees) allows the employee to build retirement savings with pre-tax dollars to supplement pension, Social Security and private investment.  (, ( (other information concerning DC program,,
Lastly, hopefully, the President gets reelected. I say this because of the “Affordable Care Act”. I researched it, and found that State of Oregon public employees and Lane Transit has it also as part of an early retirement plan which is cheaper.,,
p.s. I need your input on this to help us make a better decision concerning Phase I.
Phase II
Phase II, is now what we will tackle. A couple of things to keep in mind, in this phase “it’s not about what we want”, but what we “need” to have in a stress free work environments. Some of the things that I have put down, will have agreements and disagreements from you guys, but overall will help members in the long run. The company wants to make this about health care coverage. This will be their “quid pro quo” (something for something). What we need in this phase is; how many reasons why, we need these changes, the more reasons why, the better our argument will be for these changes (contractually).
1. Time Loss: will only count for unexcused absences, or pattern of absences.
Reasons why: Time Loss, forces an employee back to work too soon. If an employee has sick time, then they should not have time loss. If an employee is sick for more than 3 days, they have to have a doctor’s note, or release from a doctor or receive time loss in this case. An employee should not have to go to a 3rd party (Reed), to get an approval for sick time, which also may result in time loss. We have sick time bank, which should be used for sick related absences, without penalties, such as a reduction of vacation time.
2. Dirty-bus issues: will be addressed as a preventative measure (for operator, service worker, and mechanics).
Reasons why: reallocate, or hire cleaners, to previous levels. Clean all in-service buses every 3-4 months. Clean all in service buses duct work once pre year. Service all H-Vacs every 3 years. This “is” in the best interest of the general public and bus and train workers, who work in and around unclean and hazardous work environments.
3. Injury prevention: Operator seats and steering wheels should be a priority, to prevent unnecessary injuries.
Reasons why: Spinal and neck and shoulder injury prevention. All seats will be properly maintenanced, as to avoid; jarring the back when a seat bottoms out, twisting the lower back due to a seat leaning to one side. All seats need to be maintained or replaced, to prevent injury. Wheels must be maintenanced to avoid shoulder and neck injuries.
4. Schedules: redone to de-stress operators.
Reasons why: De-stress. A full-time operator should have a majority of straight shifts to choose from, a full-time operator should not have to wait 10-15 years to get an A.M. straight with weekends off, while part-time has no waiting period for the same type of straight. This may mean fewer straights for part-time and no 3 10’s, and more weekend work. A full time operator should be able to plan family time, without waiting 10-15 years to do it.
4a. The Sandy Day rule: Schedules rearrangements.
Reasons why: Operator fatigue (the no.1 safety hazard). An operator’s greater break shall not be held at the beginning of their shift, but towards the middle or at the end of the shift. Lunch breaks shall be no less than 25mins plus. Schedule recovery shall be no less than 14mins (instead 10 minutes per 1 hour driven). These changes will allow an operator physically and mentally recover for the next run. This is in the best interest of the public; an operator at the top of their game, will not exhibit poor safety skills.
Lastly, guys we need “all hands on deck” to collaborate with our other departments (maintenance, service workers, other work crews, etc.), come up with their own list of things that will contribute to a healthy and safe work environment (since I only work on the bus side). Just remember, this is about what we need, not what we want.

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