Lynch optimistic about bringing back T retirees

Goal is to boost staffing in control center, restore full subway service

US REP. STEPHEN LYNCH is optimistic the MBTA and its unions can find a way to bring retired subway dispatchers back on the job to help raise staffing levels in the operations control center to a point where full service on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines can be restored.

Lynch said retirees are attractive because they wouldn’t need months of training to start working in the control center. In response to safety concerns raised by the Federal Transit Administration, the T has slowed down service on the three subway lines to match existing staff levels in the control center but the hope is an infusion of bodies could return service to regular weekday levels.

The big roadblock is contract language that reduces pension payments to retirees who return to work.

Lynch, who has been sitting in on talks between the MBTA and its unions, said he believes the parties are close to an agreement on how to make it work. He said the entire Carmen’s Union would have to vote on the contract change to make it happen.

Asked if an influx of retirees could restore full weekday subway service prior to Labor Day, Lynch is optimistic but noncommittal.

“Perhaps,” he said. “It all depends on how many people step up and agree to do that.”

Lynch said the retirees may be offered a $10,000 incentive, but sources said the details of any return package haven’t been worked out yet.

Union and MBTA officials either declined comment or didn’t return phone calls seeking information on the negotiations.

The congressman said all of the parties are working to reach a deal. “There’s been nothing but cooperation,” he said. “I had discussions with the governor as well on this and it seems like we’re all rowing in the right direction.”

Lynch made his comments on The Codcast, which will be available in its entirety on Sunday.