Wednesday, May 22, 2013


SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER AT TRIMET'S MONTHLY BOARD MEETING– ATU 757 union president, Bruce Hansen, and treasurer, Mary Longoria, both addressed the Trimet Board of Directors this morning. Mary's remarks are included here. Bruce's to come.

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak to a basic issue of fairness regarding TriMet pensions. I do so on behalf of the union retirees that TriMet continues to blame, in part, for its ongoing financial problems. In his recent interview with Jeff Gianola of KOIN Local 6, Mr. Mcfarlane described a number of details about the union workers retirement program. These included 10 yr eligibility, the option to retire as early as age 55, having the same health care benefits as active employees until age 65 and Part B Medicare coverage after.

While all of that sounds generous, no actual dollar amounts were included in Mr. McFarlane’s comments, and I believe there is a good reason he left them out. The inconvenient truth is that these retirees receive pension checks so small, that retirement can hardly be considered as their so-called “golden years.”

I would like to share with you a financial breakdown of benefits and health care spending for a member who retired after 13 years of service. This former bus operator receives a monthly pension of $749. Before I continue, I invite you to pick up a pencil or pen and follow along as I do the math… I’ve rounded off the numbers to make it easier J

Retirement Pymt $749
Federal Taxes -$57
State Taxes -$72
Regence Health premium -$182
ODS premium -$3
Net after taxes / health ins premiums $435
Average Rx Costs Per Month $50
Total Deposit (not sure about the term) $385

Now compare $385 per month of retirement income in this example to the $16,000 PER MONTH retirement package of TriMet’s former General Manager.

I ask the board members and the public to let these numbers sink in and conclude – as Mr. Farlane wants you to – that union member retirees are breaking the bank at TriMet. It is simply not the case.

Given the relatively modest pensions these retired union employees receive, it is unconscionable to even discuss additional cuts to their retirement during the upcoming contract negotiations. I ask the board to consider the fairness of TriMet executives’ “golden parachutes” if they come at the expense of retirees’ golden years. Thank you.


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