I know that this topic is a touchy subject for some but, I must interject and say they do deserve a merit raise (Merit raises are offered by employers as incentive for employees to meet or exceed preset business goals or performance criteria.). That being said I must say that we should have embraced the concept of a merit raise with them, but for ALL employees. In their 2014 budget they decided that the company was making strides enough to warrant a raise, which I agree with, with a caveat attached to my statement, is that they should receive it “IN-SPITE” of themselves.
We have to ask ourselves what denotes a Merit raise for the company, what has been accomplished? Expanding the system beyond the capacity to maintain it long-term, cutting schedules when not necessary, ignoring the warnings by the union concerning the health of the Max tracks, the constant attempts to outsource and subcontract maintenance and other departments, bringing in buses that are unsafe for passengers and operators; with each successive series are fraught with injuries to the operators, increasing fare by .40 cents ahead of the projections; with no explanation to the general public, placing an unjust burden on retirees by transferring medical premium costs onto them which amounts to a 3% cut in their pensions on a fixed income, turning a blind eye to employee assaults in the system, cutting the drive times for operators in order to cut the break times so that they would continue driving without a “real” break; causing operators to “turn and burn” to keep an unrealistic schedules, the constant intimidation within the disciplinary rules; with an example being: telling operators who are at the end of the line or at the end of shift, you have no time to use the bathroom (whether implied or not) thus causing them to “turn and burn,” the intimidated operators feel compelled to keep going even though they have to use the restroom, in turn the intimidated operator “soils” their driver’s seat (as told to us: about 60 cases so far). Does this denote a Merit raise, that’s up to interpretation?
I think the real reason for the company apparently doing so well (enough to warrant a raise) is the front-line workers. It’s the front line workers who make the system run as smooth as can be, while ridership is continually going down, it’s the frontliners’ sacrifices that make the company move. It’s the frontliners that are the face of the company (according to the GM). It is the frontliner that operates the equipment, repairs it, cleans it, fuels it, gives customer service out of it, dispatches it, protects it on the road, and keeps it on time if possible, all while having high stress levels.
All the while the frontliner has taken a pay cut due in part to the company transferring premium costs onto us (at 90/10 split), while they have taken almost $0 increases in premium contributions (at 80/20 split). Also the frontliner has yet to see the return of the premiums cost increases that the company took without bargaining for, which had been settled by the appropriate courts (which in on appeals currently). The only thing that has been proposed to us for a raise has been, “take 80/20 (insurance), you get a raise.” Well, let me see here, if I contribute another 10% in insurance contribution you’ll give me a 3% raise (possibly, one time only), hmmm……so you’re telling me that the money you will save from me (as an employee), you’ll give me just 3% of that savings??? Is that a good deal, well that’s up to interpretation.
Lastly, all in all we should embrace a “Merit raise” but, for ALL employees that make the company move “IN-SPITE” of our disagreements at the bargaining table.