Monday, June 16, 2014

Trimet engages in bad faith bargaining...AGAIN

Randy Stedman declared impasse late Tuesday, May 13, 2014. What this means is that he wants the parties to go to interest arbitration.

All impasse means is that Stedman is declaring he no longer has to bargain. The next step is the parties must submit their final offers to the Employment Relations Board (ERB). The Board then has the parties select an arbitrator. Once the arbitrator is selected, a date is set for the interest arbitration hearing.

We believe TriMet has engaged in bad faith bargaining on a number of counts. Just one example is the infamous “OPEB” number you’ve seen over and over in their press releases. “OPEB” is another name for retiree health insurance. TriMet has promised to pay for future retiree health insurance every year for the last 45 years. Yet, TriMet put not a single cent aside to meet that obligation. Had they done so, like many other governmental units, there would be little or no unpaid OPEB to worry about.

From the first session, and every time thereafter that TriMet proposed an economic takeaway, Stedman justified it by citing to the OPEB number of $852 million due 26 years in the future. No one on the TriMet team could explain how that number was reached other than to say TriMet’s actuary produced it. We, of course, asked to speak with the actuary.

On September 11, 2013, Stedman promised we would be able to meet and question the actuary. Then he stonewalled us and would not give the ATU bargaining team permission to meet with TriMet’s actuary until late April 2014. While we were having that meeting, the afternoon of May 13, 2014, Stedman drafted his letter declaring impasse.

Until we obtain an interest arbitration decision, the status quo continues. TriMet is not allowed to change wages, benefits or working conditions. Should you see any such changes, alert your property officer immediately.

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