This week General Chairman Marco Gudino successfully negotiated an agreement with the LACMTA over the effects of the transfer of Bus Lines 190 and 194 to Foothill Transit. The agreement has a total value of over $4 million and includes reinvestment in the Division 9 bus lines, monetary compensation for all operators at Division 9 and a subcontracting moratorium for 5 years.
As far back as December 2014, there has been an effort by some member or members of the LACMTA Board to transfer Lines 190 & 194 to Foothill Transit. Since it was first proposed, General Committee 875 has advocated with the LA County Supervisors, the Mayor of Los Angeles and Local Service Councils to oppose the transfer. With powerful political figures leading the transfer effort and all the resources of the MTA staff at those politicians’ disposal, the Union had little chance to stop it.
Once the MTA Board approved the transfer, General Chairman Gudino demanded bargaining over the disposal of the lines to ensure adequate protection for the operators. Article 51 has provisions for employees affected by the transfer of lines 190 & 194 to have those adequate protections negotiated between SMART and the MTA. General Chairman Gudino considered using this provision to delay implementation of the service changes by taking the case all the way to court and arbitration. After consultation with legal counsel, it was determined that the Union could negotiate a better deal for the members than might be awarded by an arbitrator following a costly legal battle.
General Committee 875 has no legal or contractual authority to stop the elimination of MTA bus lines. When the MTA eliminated and transferred lines in the past, little or nothing was done to provide for or protect the members affected. Given all of those challenges, General Chairman Gudino was not satisfied with business as usual and negotiated a ground breaking deal with never before seen provisions and protections for the members of SMART.
First, the elimination of service has already been delayed a year from its original date of June 2015. This is thanks in part to advocacy that was done with Mayor Eric Garcetti when he was Chairman of the MTA Board. In the agreement the MTA agreed that no employee will be laid off due to the elimination of Lines 190 & 194. Once the elimination is implemented, the MTA will begin to reinvest 50% of the savings into other lines at Division 9 for three years instead of the one year which is their statutory obligation. That is three times more work that is secured for the members in this agreement. To ensure compliance with this provision, the MTA will provide SMART with quarterly reports detailing its reinvestment levels and activity.
To ensure stability of the system and the work for the members, General Chairman Gudino was able to secure a level of control over the subcontracting, line elimination and service change process in this agreement. For the next five years, the MTA agrees to not subcontract, solicit, transfer or otherwise dispose of any bargaining unit lines, system wide, without the written consent and an agreement from SMART. This is a provision that benefits every SMART member employed by LA Metro.
To reimburse all of the operators at Division 9 impacted by the elimination of Lines 190 & 194, General Chairman Gudino negotiated a far-reaching financial settlement. The financial settlement includes five days of scheduled work assignment pay to all active Full-Time and Part-Time operators assigned to Lines 190 & 194 as of May 18. Two hours pay at their regular rate will be given to all other operators at Division 9 and one additional floating holiday for all Full Time operators at Division 9. The total package of reinvestment and compensation equals approximately $4.125 Million.
Ultimately the Union wanted to keep Lines 190 & 194. Once all options were exhausted to that end, General Chairman Gudino did not simply give up as had been done in the past. The Union enforced its contractual rights and negotiated an unprecedented deal for the members. This agreement not only provides for SMART members today but also serves as a deterrent to any future subcontracting and line transfer plans the MTA has in the future. This agreement serves notice to the MTA that they can no longer give up Union work without a fight.