Joe Kennedy lends support to T workers’ anti-privatization effort

Joe Kennedy lends support to T workers’ anti-privatization effort

Union rallies in Quincy, kicks-off public education campaign

MBTA UNION WORKERS rallied against privatization efforts Monday morning at a bus maintenance garage in Quincy, where US Rep. Joseph Kennedy spoke in support of the mechanics’ fight against outsourcing the work done at the T’s maintenance garages.

“The men and women that are here today are just asking to negotiate. They’re not asking for much,” Kennedy told workers and their supporters outside the garage. “They’ve put their own proposals for saving on the table and are asking for a chance to engage across a table to see how we can come to an agreement.”

July 17, 2017, Quincy bus garage

US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III speaks at a rally of MBTA workers protesting privatization moves . (Photo by Natasha Ishak)

In a shot across the bow of the Baker administration, which has been pushing for privatization savings at the T, he added, “The fact that that outreach has been met with silence speaks volumes about the direction that this administration wants to take these negotiations.”

The rally came in conjunction with the launch of a public outreach campaign by Invest Now, a coalition of T unions, non-profits, and worker advocates to stop privatization of the T’s bus maintenance garages. The coalition posted an ad on its Facebook page on Friday, the first in a series of spots that it plans to release in the coming weeks.

The Quincy bus maintenance garage is one of four garages targeted for privatization by the MBTA. Some union leaders charged that maintenance outsourcing is a step toward full privatization of the T by the Baker administration.

“Brian Shortsleeve, I believe, is really fixated on privatizing these garages,” Michael  Vartabedian, business agent for International Association of Machinists Local 264, said at the rally, referring to the T’s former general manager, who recently stepped down and joined the MBTA’s oversight board. “I believe it was [Shortsleeve’s and Gov. Charlie Baker’s] plan all along.”

Mechanics, fuelers, and technicians within in IAM Local 264 have been in negotiations with the T to find middle ground that would allow the agency to increase savings and efficiency while preserving the 406 jobs of bus maintenance workers.

The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board set a $21 million savings target for bus maintenance. The union has proposed multiple money-saving alternatives to counter privatization and meet the board’s goal. In addition to $29 million in potential annual savings Local 264 says it has proposed, the union said it is willing to consider a further $6 million to $8 million in savings from concessions by workers.

Among the compromises the union says the workers are willing to make: having more requirements to be eligible for raises or professional advancements; altering job classifications for new hires; and pushing back the 2.5 percent wage increase that was set to take effect July 1.

Meet the Author

Natasha Ishak

Editorial Intern, CommonWealth magazine

About Natasha Ishak

Natasha Ishak is the editorial intern at CommonWealth magazine. Her duties include reporting and writing on the latest policy issues happening on Beacon Hill.

Before arriving at CommonWealth Magazine, she worked as a digital intern under NOVA/PBS at WGBH. She was a reporter in her hometown of Jakarta for four years, writing up stories at The Jakarta Post - Indonesia's oldest leading English-language daily, and as a production assistant on the popular news program, the Indonesia Morning Show.

Now in her second year pursuing a master's degree in journalism at Emerson College, she hopes to shed light on marginalized communities through stories related to politics, immigration, social justice and the environment.

About Natasha Ishak

Natasha Ishak is the editorial intern at CommonWealth magazine. Her duties include reporting and writing on the latest policy issues happening on Beacon Hill.

Before arriving at CommonWealth Magazine, she worked as a digital intern under NOVA/PBS at WGBH. She was a reporter in her hometown of Jakarta for four years, writing up stories at The Jakarta Post - Indonesia's oldest leading English-language daily, and as a production assistant on the popular news program, the Indonesia Morning Show.

Now in her second year pursuing a master's degree in journalism at Emerson College, she hopes to shed light on marginalized communities through stories related to politics, immigration, social justice and the environment.

Following this morning’s rally, the T released a statement touting the purchase of 375 new buses that the agency says will allow for a streamlining of maintenance services.

“To improve service for all riders, the MBTA is replacing over one-third of its bus fleet with 375 new vehicles, all of which are under warranty, while using this opportunity to explore significantly reshaping the maintenance program to reinvest cost savings,” said the statement.  “Pursuing the same industry maintenance standards employed by the Boston public school system and every Regional Transit Authority, including Greater Attleboro-Taunton and the Pioneer Valley, the MBTA looks forward to working with its employees and union leadership to modernize this important function and generating tens of millions in savings to be reinvested in system improvements for the riders who depend on it.”

Baker’s office declined to comment on the rally and campaign.

  • J Powers

    375 new buses…and when the 2 yr warranty’s run out,who will fix them then? according the NTSB,the MBTA’s machinists are the number 1 bus maintenance workers in the country, Charlie should be proud they work in Massachusetts! No he sends his beancounter from Bain Capitol to slash and burn the operation. His hatred of the T and its workers goes back to the Weld administration when they saddled the T with so much debt,that the T will be digging out forever…pioneer institute never met a privatization they didn’t like…

  • Aeroguy

    Among the compromises the union says the workers are willing to make:

    * having more requirements to be eligible for raises or professional
    advancements;
    * altering job classifications for new hires; and
    * pushing
    back the 2.5 percent wage increase that was set to take effect July 1.
    ———————————————————–

    That’s not much if you’re trying to save jobs.

  • Good luck

    375 new busses yet a private contractor is doing the shuttle for comm ave. What a joke. Friends in high places.