We have just received word from our attorneys that the MBTA has sued in Suffolk Superior Court to set aside the award of Arbitrator Sarah Kerr Garraty. That award set the terms of our contract between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2014.
After consulting with legal counsel and considering our options, the Officers and Executive Board of Local 589 have decided to sue the MBTA as well, as soon as this Friday, to confirm and enforce the award. We stressed to our counsel that we wish to have the matter resolved, one way or the other, as soon as possible.
While the Award adjusted our wages upward (to $32.98 per hour for top-rated Operators, for example) Arbitrator Garraty provided far too little money to help pay the expense of health care for active and retired workers, especially because, by law, we are obligated to join the GIC health care plan whenever our contract is set. If the Garraty Award goes into effect soon enough, members and retirees will be moved to the GIC this coming January and, as many of you know, GIC benefits are not as good as those we now have under our various plans.
HOWEVER, Local 589 is committed to fair bargaining and the rule of law. Our counsel advise us that Ms. Garraty had the legal authority to decide as she did. The contract and law require that we resolve our contract by binding arbitration and, we believe, our members want us to honor the law. Our counsel will also ask the court to preserve the status quo, preventing our migration into the G.I.C., effective January 1, 2014 and hold off on pay raises unless and until the award is confirmed. Needless to say, we will be unable to bargain over a new contract until we know what the terms of the old contract are.
It is still the position and advice of this Union and Executive Board that all members continue the enrollment process to protect their future health care choices.
We realize that this event leaves things unsettled and uncertain for everyone – and we wish we could tell you that there is some legitimate dispute behind the problem – but the opposite is true. Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey, surely in consultation with the Governor, has decided to sue for the sake of suing – at great expense to the Commonwealth and to you and our Union – and acting against the law.
John A. Clancy
ATU Local 589