As many of you have heard, TriMet’s Board voted yesterday to contract out employee shuttle service during the rebuild of Powell Garage, rather than operate it in-house. You read that right: Oregon’s largest transit agency has decided that it does not have the in-house expertise to run a shuttle bus.
We have repeatedly demanded to bargain with TriMet over this service, and they have refused to do so. ATU leadership has submitted the letter below to TriMet management demanding that they cease moving forward with this contract:
Dear Chair Warner, members of the TriMet Board of Directors, and General Manager Kelsey,
Yesterday morning, a bare quorum of TriMet’s Board approved a contract with SP Plus Corporation, a private, for-profit entity, to provide shuttle services for employees during the Powell Garage rebuild project. We write to express our outrage and frustration at the agency’s approval of this contract, and we demand that TriMet suspend action on this resolution until it has bargained in good faith with ATU Local 757 over the issue.
During yesterday’s hearing, General Manager Doug Kelsey claimed that TriMet management has “engaged with ATU” over this issue, giving the Board and the public the false impression that our union approves of this contract. This was, at best, a misdirection; at worst, it was a bald-faced lie. Make no mistake: ATU strongly objects to TriMet contracting out Powell Garage employee shuttle services. We suspect General Manager Kelsey felt compelled to lie to the Board because he knows that TriMet’s frontline workforce almost universally opposes this proposed contract. Our members have been clear with us: they do not want to get to and from work on buses driven by non-union, third-party drivers. We have consistently demanded to bargain over this proposed shuttle service, but TriMet has refused to do so.
It is the height of absurdity that Oregon’s largest transit agency would contract out an employee shuttle, redistributing public tax dollars to an Illinois-based corporation, when you already employ over 1,300 professional bus operators who are eminently qualified to provide shuttle services for their fellow employees. TriMet could and must operate this service in-house using the professional, union-represented labor force which already moves the Portland region.
TriMet did not inform ATU that it would be moving forward with a resolution at today’s Board meeting. We were not given sufficient time to review this resolution or offer comment to the Board. Further, this resolution came up for a vote on the same day that TriMet is hosting holiday parties for its employees across the different bus and rail garages. TriMet management certainly knew that ATU leadership would be attending those parties; this makes it appear that TriMet simply didn’t want us to rock the boat, and so scheduled this vote on a day when we were unavailable. This is deeply disturbing.
We want to work with you to make this employee shuttle a success. Unfortunately, you have continually refused to even discuss the subject with us, and have instead moved forward with this absurd plan to contract the service out. There is only one course of action to make this right: immediately suspend action on this resolution, and bargain in good faith with ATU Local 757 over the issue.