MBTA’s Workforce Policies ‘In A State Of Disrepair,’ Control Board Member Says

WBUR |   |September 30, 2015

0918_orange-line-620x390BOSTON – With absent operators the leading cause of cancelled bus and subway trips, a member of the MBTA’s oversight board told state legislators that the T must take a similar approach to fixing its administrative system as it has to cataloging and updating its infrastructure needs.

“The state of good repair of the MBTA’s vehicle, equipment and machinery — we have a scorecard for that, and a $7.3 billion price tag. We need to take the same approach to the T’s most valuable resource, the thousands of workers who show up 365 days a year,” control board member Brian Lang told the Transportation Committee Wednesday. “For this, our most valuable resource, we find the T is in a state of disrepair.”

Lang and other members of the T’s control board — along with T General Manager Frank DePaola, T Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve and state Transportation Secretary Stepha
nie Pollack — were before the committee to discuss the control board’s first report, which was released last week.

That report painted a dire picture of the long-troubled transit system’s finances, and Lang testified Wednesday that a “broken administrative system” is also leaving the T’s workforce in rough shape.

According to the report, both planned and unplanned operator absences accounted for nearly 69 percent of the 34,347 trips dropped on MBTA buses and subways between January and August of this year — something Lang said “has a tremendous impact on rider experience.” And Lang attributed $11 million of the T’s $53 million overtime spending last year to unscheduled absences and vacancies.

mbta-operabtor-absense-620x416“Lowering [overtime spending] will free up money that can be used to help close the structural deficit,” Lang said.

Lang blamed staffing problems on broken personnel policies and procedures that are unclear and difficult to track. Lang also said the T’s “antiquated computer system” has made it hard to really get a full view of the personnel issues.

“The Fiscal Management and Control Board has not been able to get a simple list of existing job classifications with the number of workers in each classification, and the number of vacancies in each classification,” Lang said. “The computer capability isn’t there to spit that out.”

Lang did point to some improvements on the horizon, such as hiring a leave manager and a recruitment manager, plans to train 700 staffers on leave policies and procedures, and audit certifications of the nearly 2,000 employees who are out via the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Lang also said the T is looking for a third-party administrator to manage absences because the current computer system can’t handle it. When asked by lawmakers, Shortsleeve, the MBTA administrator, said he doesn’t know what an upgrade to that computer system would cost.

Still, T control board chair Joseph Aiello said one of the realities behind some of the workforce issues is that “people are pretty beat up,” not just by last winter’s system struggles, but by “years of underinvestment.”

“One of the things that we need to put into place is a real culture shift, that there is a permanent, entrenched desire to make the system work, to make the system be as good as the system possibly can be and to be one of the premier systems in the United States,” Aiello testified.

The oversight board, which was created in July in response to the T’s struggles last winter, was invited to testify before the committee to discuss their first report on the state of the transit system. Most of the meeting was spent leading the committee members through the report.

Several legislators also asked for more specific data behind some of the control board’s findings, and had suggestions as to what to include in further reports.

The T control board’s next report is due in December.

Permanent link to this article: https://carmensunion589.org/2015/10/mbtas-workforce-policies-in-a-state-of-disrepair-control-board-member-say/

3 comments

    • j cat on October 3, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Like TRUMP has said many times ,he has bought these politicians. both parties , to get what he wants. That is the problem .. government today is NOT FOR THE PEOPLE its for the politicians

    just look at how the dems have screwed us . how not just WELD playing with the big dig fed money ,but other politicians moving the money around , to their contractor people , supporters with bid scams.

    back when the big dig was going on , it was never brought up in the elections .. this is because both parties had their fingers in the dough..

    will DE LEO be #4 ??? fed prison ..

    Both parties and our union supporting president , when he was looking to get elected took our money , lied to us , then calls our health care plan a Cadillac plan ,so its now slammed with a Cadillac tax ..

    Take from the hard working people , NOT JUST UNION WORKERS and give to the lay a bouts..

    With the current federal entitlements , it surely makes sense , if you have any type of medical issues to just go on disability , and sit back and suck up all the free stuff you can.. It just does make any sense to get up every day work 8 hrs plus to just scrape by.. then when you get sick , bankruptcy..

    Today under the current administration , we have more people on assistance than ever before .. so the working people pay more , but the wages do not keep up.. This is a reason why we have nut jobs running around in the country shooting people , and not just in ghetto’s…this is not just a race based issue this effects all of us..

    I believe term limits are required to break this ineffective government we have .. Washington DC is out of control , they are useless !

    We have Dems in Washington DC some since the 1970’s call them up , and see if they will help you out ?? They will make you fill out release form s and they will never call you back. then when you do call back and talk to the contact person in their office , they will not even remember your call , because they never intended to do anything.

    this is a politician problem not just a political party problem..

    • Mike on October 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Charlie Baker is solely responsible for the state of disrepair the MBTA now finds itself, as Bill Weld’s chief financial officer in the 90’s, he took Billions from the T budget and used it to pay for the big dig(lie)? He then placed more debt on the T to make the numbers look good, and in the false hope that the Federal Government would absorb the dept., it did not. Then the forward funding law was created and this was the final nail in the T’s coffin. Charlie Baker IS the Pioneer institute and whenever he needs a report that shifts the blame from himself to the workforce, the Pioneer’s can be counted on to fudge a report! Why are these TRUE facts not reported to the legislative oversight committees? How can Massachusetts taxpayers make an informed decision about the T when ALL the facts are not reported? Only a handful of Legislators know what is really going on, Sen. Marc Pacheco was in the Stae Senate when Weld and Baker attacked the working class at the MBTA the first time, and should be listened to now, but alas, we workers now have another enemy to deal with, a true monster with an unseen face. The Koch brothers are bringing their money to buy our democrat friends in both houses of congress! Brothers Koch HAVE bought the speaker of the house, Tom DeLeo. He used to be a friend of hard working Americans, so what or who do you suppose changed that? What about his reply when asked why the change of heart? Why did you abandon Unions and worker’s rights? “Because everyone else is doing it?” Well Mr. Speaker, that’s just not true, at least not yet. True the former Governor, Deval Patrick had a change of heart as well. He used one of his friendly Judges to abrogate a benefit we have had for years, our Blue cross blue has been replaced by Mass GIC insurance, so as the non working class enjoys free healthcare, free prescriptions, free over the counter meds, we workers now get to pay for all that as well as financially crippling co pays and deductibles. Brand name drugs, went from $20.00 to $65.00 for a one month supply! Thank you Massachusetts lawmakers! We even pay for free computers and internet service for the non working class, Something EVEIL is happening in America, the political Elites are doing this to pit the workers against the poor, all the while they are busy changing laws to make States across America into “Right to work” states, sounds nice doesn’t it? It really means right to work with no unions! Low wages, and no benefits. The Koch Brothers and their ilk, do not want the headaches of dealing with workers on a level playing field. I Thank my State Rep. Michelle DuBois, Sen. Mark Pacheco, US. Rep Bill Keating, and U.S. Rep Steven Lynch. And all who support unions across America! We Need to weather this storm, it’s been going on since 1948 when the WTO was conceived but was not implemented in our country until President Bill Clinton, along with the Republican Congress of 1994 signed it into law under “Fast track Authority” This is nothing more than changing “Treaties” To Trade agreements, to get around the two thirds vote in Congress to a simple majority. These trade deals are absolutely killing America as a world superpower. Our Fathers who fought in WWII Refused to pass WTO, They fought and died to keep America a free and sovereign Nation, WTO Supersedes our laws, and allows other countries to take us to the World Trade Court, and overturn our laws. WWII Veteran’s who ran America after the war REFUSED to pass this. So the super rich came up with it again after all the WWII veterans where out of power. Their bean counter children are now the ones in power and have been bought and paid for in sufficient numbers to pass these America killing laws. But I am rambling again. People, we need to support this union at rally’s. Show up and be counted, or be DEAD!!! These elites are playing for keeps!

    • j cat on October 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Before computers the T ran much better .. that is because you had input from the lower management to the upper and things got done .Money was spent in the correct way for reliability. Also lower management had a say in what new equipment was purchased.

    since the computers showed up its all talk down management .. NO input from the lower management and also no input wanted !!!!

    If the lower management disagrees with upper , then you are a problem, because as we all know upper management has those computers , and they don’t lie…crap input crap output that is what those computers have created its all B/S !

    some programs like the drug testing, as one example ,this causes trips dropped. being absent for a period of time due to a medical procedure time lost before you return to work for a B/S medical exam with T doctors ??? RIGHT !!! that is waste paying those people for nothing is what that is.

    It may change some day ….LOL….

    IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DEALS !

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