Friday, April 25, 2014

Trimet oligarchs control the flow of the 'contract' negotiations.

The real shame here is that there is no outside coverage of what's going on there. How can the unions claim be verified without an outside observer.
Trimet is dominating the discussion aided by its lackeys in the mainstream media.
Who's challenged Trimet figures other than ATU 7575?
OPAL has!
And OPAL was proven correct yet they got ZERO media coverage on this issue. Think back, this is the same time Mcfarlane gave himself and his pals 'secret raises' while raising fares and chopping up bus service.
How do we break the grip of the Trimet propagandists?

 The parties have ended negotiations and entered into the mediation phase. The employer has 55 contract changes pending, and the Union has 37.
            Our first mediation session was Tuesday, April 8, 2014 from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. The State mediator met with both groups separately. Both sides told her that the biggest issue is health insurance for actives and retirees.

            The Union proposed that the parties engage in “fish bowl” discussions over health insurance. Those are discussions where a small number of employer representatives and a small number of union representatives sit at a table surrounded by silent and respective bargaining team members from both sides. The employer rejected that proposal. Instead, the employer wanted sidebar, private discussions among just six people (in what combination?).

            The Union rejected that proposal on principal. This has been the approach used in all other prior negotiations with TriMet, and it created numerous problems. Given people’s often stated dissatisfaction with the sidebar approach, the bargaining sessions up to now have been conducted with a new approach. Your elected bargaining team members have been invited to every single negotiation session. There has been no behind-the-scenes bargaining among managers and the top officer, or an outside consultant.

            In my opinion, this new approach has paid off in a variety of ways. The most important has been that TriMet started with over 450 changes to the contract. The parties met in 36 sessions. Of those, at least 33 were dedicated to the employer’s proposals. Your representatives proved themselves to be highly professional and more knowledgeable of the workplace that management’s representatives. They provided valuable information and argument that caused TriMet to drop all but 55 of those changes. Your officers deserve to be acknowledged and given credit for that achievement.

The Heart of the Issue
           You have heard TriMet’s steady drumbeat about “unfunded liability” due to retiree health insurance benefits. But, an independent study TriMet itself commissioned last Fall indicates that the numbers TriMet is using might be inflated. We have repeatedly asked that we work together to agree on those numbers. Once we can trust the numbers, we will be able to fairly address health insurance costs and the fact that, for 44 years, TriMet saved nothing toward retiree health insurance.

            TriMet’s position is that we should just trust them, believe that they have chosen the best insurance for us and happily pay much more for health insurance than we are today
. They want us to pay 20% for every medical service up to a much higher annual total (deductible). Additionally, they want us to pay 6% of the total premium cost. Our position is that we should not have to pay for an insurance plan that they alone choose. Nor should we have to solely bear the burden of 44 years of management neglect.

            The session did end on a somewhat positive note. TriMet has promised that its new actuary will present its new findings to the ATU bargaining team with an opportunity for them to ask questions as well as well as the union’s own financial experts asking questions. At this point, we do not know if this will simply be another dog-and-pony show, or an opportunity for real discussion. The next mediation session is scheduled for May 8, 2014.

                In Solidarity,

                Bruce Hansen

No comments: