Source: Marcela Garcia, Boston Globe, September 21, 2016
AS THE MBTA looks to reduce its operating deficit, it has found a new and unsettling target: the largely below-ground workforce of contract janitors. They’re the least-paid and most vulnerable people associated with the public transportation system. Feces, urine, vomit, and used needles are constant occupational hazards. More than 120 janitors have been affected by cuts, out of a total staff of about 300. They include at least 50 janitors who have been laid off, according to union officials, while the rest have seen their hours reduced, with some losing their health insurance coverage. … At a time when the public is thinking more and more about ensuring that people make a living wage, why are we letting our public transportation system, largely supported by taxpayers, pull the rug from under a group of people who do this unappreciated but extremely important work? The savings are coming on the backs of janitors who make $18 per hour. Contrast that with the 59 T employees who earned over $100,000 in overtime alone last year, according to a Springfield Republican/MassLive.com report. … The T says the savings for the move will add up to $8.1 million over two years — in the context of an annual budget of over $2 billion. The cuts come after the MBTA found it had been overpaying the two contracting companies, S.J. Services and ABM, by nearly 50 percent. … Union officials are struggling to make sense of the math that the T administrators say justifies the firing of janitors. Roxana Rivera, vice president at 32BJ SEIU, fears “the MBTA has grossly exaggerated the amount of cost overruns that are attributable to pay for janitors.” The union recently filed complaints against the two subcontractors with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing unfair labor practices. At the least, the T should be more transparent and release detailed information related to the decision to drastically cut its cleaning staff. …
Privatization supporters urge MBTA board to pursue opportunities
Source: Colin A Young, WWLP, September 19, 2016
A week after organized labor supporters crowded a meeting of the MBTA’s control board to protest privatization of MBTA jobs, a group of elected officials spoke up in favor of privatization at a T board meeting Monday. Rep. Joseph McKenna, a Webster Republican, told the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board that the agency should continue to look for ways to save money, even if that means privatizing the jobs of bus drivers or maintenance workers. … MBTA officials are actively exploring privatization of inventory and cash management operations in an attempt save money and improve services at the agency, which has battled perennial budget imbalances. And the FMCB in a Sept. 1 report signaled it might seek outsourcing of its core operations. The Democrat-controlled state Legislature last year suspended the so-called Pacheco Law, which requires a privatization proposal to be vetted by the state auditor, to give the MBTA a three-year window to privatize services. … The Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, which represents more than 4,100 of the MBTA’s roughly 6,500 employees, has vigorously opposed privatization, and last week packed the T’s meeting room with union members and supporters who spoke passionately against privatization. …
Pacheco Law Reprieve Backers Rail Against MBTA Privatization
Source: Matt Stout, Mass Transit, September 13, 2016
Democratic lawmakers who voted last year to give Gov. Charlie Baker and the MBTA more flexibility in privatizing parts of the T are now railing against the cash-strapped agency as it considers outsourcing bus routes, maintenance and other core functions, joining a chorus of unions slamming the move. Just one legislator voted against last year’s budget that gave the T a three-year reprieve from the so-called Pacheco Law, which critics say puts up hurdles to outsourcing public work. But as unions denounced the move at a T board meeting, several legislators — some of whom passed the provision through gritted teeth — quickly staked out a side in the brewing debate. …
MBTA workers protest outsourcing of transit systems
Source: Associated Press, September 13, 2016
Transit workers are calling on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to put the brakes on further privatization efforts. Members of the Boston Carmen’s Union packed a meeting of the MBTA control board on Monday to protest the outsourcing of services that could be expanded to include bus drivers and maintenance operations. The union says MBTA employees do not deserve to lose their jobs to private companies seeking to make a profit. The union also held information picketing outside the state transportation building.
MBTA could privatize maintenance and bus driver jobs
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Herald, September 6, 2016
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is considering the privatization of driver and maintenance worker jobs, a prospect that could lead to the layoff of hundreds of employees, as it tries to cut into a multimillion dollar deficit. The MBTA’s fiscal and management control board, which oversees the agency, told legislators in a report that MBTA management is focusing on drivers, operations employees, and maintenance workers — particularly for buses — because those areas account for about 85 percent of the MBTA’s operational costs. … The MBTA has 450 bus maintenance workers and 1,700 full- and part-time bus drivers. The agency has not yet publicly outlined specific plans, nor revealed how many jobs would be affected by privatization of bus routes and maintenance if it takes place. In the report, the board notes that many transit systems have formed partnerships with private companies to provide driving or maintenance services. … The potential outsourcing of operations or maintenance jobs will probably be controversial. The Boston Carmen’s Union, the T’s largest labor group, has vehemently opposed ongoing efforts to privatize other departments, such as the warehouse and cash-counting operations. This marks the first time the agency has expressed serious interest in delving into privatization of what are considered the “core services” of the agency. …
The MBTA could consider bus privatization, and one T leader is not on boardSource: Adam Vaccaro, Boston.com, September 6, 2016
The report was released last week and focuses on ways the T has already, or may soon, contract with private companies to save money. These kinds of partnerships became easier for the MBTA to forge last summer, when — as part of a reform push led by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker that also created the T’s control board — the beleaguered agency won a three-year reprieve from a state law favored by labor unions. The law requires public bodies to undergo a multi-step process in order to privatize a service already being offered by public employees. The privatization the T has explored so far pertains to its corporate services, the report said. But on the final page, the board said the MBTA could more effectively rein in costs by targeting “those areas that make up about 85 percent of all costs, namely operations and maintenance.” A paragraph later, the report specifically named the bus system as “an example of an area of opportunity,” saying the handful of bus routes the T already runs through private companies operate cheaper than those run in-house.
Marty Walsh throws latest MBTA privatization idea under bus
Source: Matt Stout, Boston Herald, September 6, 2016
Mayor Martin J. Walsh yesterday came out swinging against the MBTA for weighing the privatization of core functions such as bus routes and maintenance, calling it a “mistake” that could pave the way to widespread outsourcing at the cash-strapped agency. … The Herald reported on Saturday that the MBTA is taking a hard look at private contracts within its massive operations and maintenance departments, which account for $875 million of spending each year. … The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board, writing in a report filed with lawmakers, said the agency is “beginning to actively examine” the possibility, citing areas such as its bus operations, where the T’s bus drivers, at $35.86 per hour, are the highest-paid in the country, according to a T analysis. Under the law Gov. Charlie Baker signed last year, the T has just a three-year window — or through mid-2018 — to identify areas to privatize without the restraints of the so-called Pacheco Law. Facing a $110 million deficit, the T has thus far sought out private vendors for smaller departments, such as its parts warehouse and its “cash” room. …
MBTA eyes opening door to additional privatization
Source: Matt Stout, Boston Herald, September 3, 2016
The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board announced it is targeting overall “operations and maintenance” that make up 85 percent of all annual costs, according to a 17-page report sent to lawmakers Thursday that was obtained by the Herald yesterday. The report identified several examples of “an area of opportunity” to “actively examine,” including bus operations, where drivers, at $35.86 per hour, are the highest paid in the country, according to an agency analysis. It also points to bus and train maintenance, with options ranging from teaming with a private company, to taking on some maintenance work, to pursuing what the report calls “full-lease models,” where the T operates, but does not maintain, a fleet of vehicles. The T employs more than 1,700 full- and part-time bus drivers and 390 machinists, or mechanics. …
As Baker assesses MBTA’s future, role of privatization considered
Source: Jule Pattison-Gordon, Bay State Banner, July 28, 2016
As officials struggle to turn the MBTA around, one bone of contention is the role that privatization should play. The administration of Governor Charlie Baker has been taking advantage of the MBTA’s exemption from the Pacheco law to explore greater levels of outsourcing. The Pacheco law aimed to prevent officials from privatizing public services without first making a case that the private company would provide higher or equal quality service for less expense than could be achieved in-house, and that the cost savings would not be reliant on cutting employee wages and benefits. Opponents labeled it as “anti-privatization.” Last week, Baker held a meeting with reporters in which he reflected on the past year at the MBTA and on the next steps going forward. While privatization of several departments is under consideration, Baker said, generally speaking, he has no preference between public and private providers, only on whichever will provide the best service quality and lower costs. …
Wait, did somebody cut sunroofs into the MBTA’s armored cars?
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston Globe, July 25, 2016
The labor union representing the T’s “money room” workers is accusing Gov. Charlie Baker of misrepresenting facts as the two sides continue to bicker over whether to contract out the MBTA’s cash-counting operations. Last week, while speaking to reporters about the last year at the T, Baker said sunroofs had been cut into two armored cars used to move money around. He didn’t offer much more in the way of detail, but suggested the issue was consistent with other problems MBTA management says it has found with security in the money room. … But the Boston Carmen’s Union, which represents the money room employees and thousands of others, pushed back hard against Baker’s claim about the armored cars, calling it “pure fiction.” … Privatization at the T has been a central issue for MBTA labor throughout Baker’s time in office. It has grown more tense as the agency moves closer to actually spinning divisions toward the private sector. In the spring and summer of 2015, as he sought reforms at the MBTA following the system’s struggles in last winter’s snow, the Republican governor successfully convinced the legislature to give the T more unilateral power to privatize services, scoring a three-year reprieve from a law requiring a multi-step audit before the state could contract out a service provided by public employees. T officials have been pushing to privatize the agency’s cash-counting division since before the recent audit was released. …
Private guard in MBTA money room caught napping on the job
Source: WCVB, July 13, 2016
Private guards are on the job, tasked with making sure millions of dollars of the MBTA’s money is safe, but 5 Investigates discovered a major lapse in the T’s money room security. Security at the T’s money room was handled by Transit Police in the past, but was privatized in June. On Wednesday, 5 Investigates obtained a photograph that showed one of the new security guards sound asleep when he was supposed to be guarding the money room’s front door in Charlestown. In the photo, obtained exclusively by 5 Investigates, the guard can be seen leaning back and taking a snooze while on the job. The photo was taken in the middle of the workday and showed the guard sound asleep with his hands tucked in his bulletproof vest. He’s part of the MBTA’s new plan to keep safe the building where they collect and count about $200 million a year. … In a statement, G4S told 5 Investigates “Inattentiveness to duty is not tolerated.” The company said it will “work to ensure that any necessary changes are fully implemented to help prevent a reoccurrence.” The MBTA said it moved swiftly to secure the facility and stands by its decision to outsource the money room.
MBTA takes first major step toward privatization
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, June 30, 2016
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s warehouse operations could be run by a private company by October, as T officials take a major step toward outsourcing a part of the agency. MBTA officials on Thursday released a request for proposals from outside firms for the operations of its warehouse, which T executives have blasted for being inefficient and dysfunctional. The move is already prompting fierce opposition — and a request for arbitration — from the agency’s largest labor union, whose members could lose jobs. James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, pledged to appeal the move, under a federal process that — if successful — the union argues could eventually cost the T significant federal funding. … At the T, warehouse operations would be the first department to replace public workers with private ones since the Legislature lifted restrictions on outsourcing at the agency. …
MBTA union willing to cut new workers’ pay if management limits privatization
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston Globe, June 27, 2016
The largest labor union representing MBTA workers wants to make a deal. The 4,100-employee Boston Carmen’s Union says it’s willing to cut wages for new employees if it means the T will limit privatizing jobs done by members. Union officials presented the proposed deal at a Monday meeting of the T’s governing board, saying it would save $24 million for the agency over four years. The proposal would extend the Carmen’s current contract with the T two years, to 2020. Under the proposal, new full-time employees would see an 11 percent wage reduction over their first four years, and new part-time employees to see an eight percent reduction over their first six years. Additionally, wages would grow by 1.5 percent per year in 2019 and 2020, a lower rate than the usual 2.5 percent annual increase. In exchange, the union is asking the agency not to contract out services done by its members. It would allow one exception: the agency’s central warehouse, which employs 34 Carmen’s Union members and which the T has discussed recently as a potential service to privatize. …
Legislators blast plan to privatize T warehouse jobs
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, June 13, 2016
Legislators and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority workers blasted potential plans to outsource jobs in the MBTA’s warehouse operations, as officials on Monday made their case for privatizing the department. Saying the warehouse operations system is “completely broken,” T officials are pushing to outsource about 38 jobs in a department that costs approximately $4.2 million annually. … Also Monday, MBTA officials revealed that they had quietly replaced Transit Police officers with private security agents at the “money room” where employees count cash fares — a move that sparked criticism from police union officials who said they had little notice and noted that the T had hired the security agency that employed the gunman in this weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando. … [Michael Keller] blamed the T’s system, noting that it runs the central warehouse only 40 hours a week, despite 24-hour maintenance. He also said the system encourages mechanics to take parts even when a stockperson isn’t there to track the inventory — which contributes to the system’s inaccuracies. …
Could outsourcing fix this T problem?
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, June 12, 2016
T officials Monday plan to make the case for privatizing the sprawling warehouse department, which employs about 38 employees for approximately $4.2 million annually. Officials say it could lead to major improvements to the T’s maintenance operations and will represent one of the first efforts by Governor Charlie Baker’s administration to test the suspension of the so-called Pacheco law, which puts up hurdles for outsourcing state jobs. … The majority of the T’s inventory — about $38 million — is at two central warehouse locations in Everett and Charlestown. Maintenance workers usually call upon the warehouses when their own supplies — for things as simple as cables, brake rotors, and air filters — at their garages run out. T officials say that process, which can take up to 80 hours, should take about 12 by industry standards. That’s partly because the main warehouse is only open for eight hours a day, five days a week, compared with the maintenance department, which is working around the clock. … Officials say fixing the system internally could prove to be too expensive, especially as the agency looks for ways to balance its books. Polcari said the T would need to upgrade its warehouses and equipment, which could cost about $14.5 million. Officials hope the agency’s fiscal control board will sign off on a timeline that would allow the T to put out a request for proposals later this month, then select a bidder by the middle of August. …
The next big MBTA battle will be about privatization
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston.com, June 7, 2016
In nearly a year since new management took control of the MBTA, the agency has taken several steps to achieve Gov. Charlie Baker’s directive that it get its financial house in order. … But it has yet to act on what proved to be Baker’s most contentious plan for the agency a year ago: To outsource parts of the agency to private companies. … In a conference call last week, MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve told reporters that privatization — or “flexible contracting,” as the T calls it — will be a focus of the agency in the coming weeks. He said the agency is examining “several initiatives we’re going to move quickly on to leverage flexible contracting” as part of a strategy to cut down on a budget deficit projected for $80 million next year, even after accounting for fare hikes and the end of late-night weekend service. …
MBTA Workers Speak Out Against Plans To Privatize Services
Source: ZENINJOR ENWEMEKA, WBUR, February 10, 2016
MBTA workers and union leaders spoke out Wednesday against a plan by T officials to privatize some services — which could affect about 250 jobs. … The Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 said the plan will push hardworking people out of jobs. … The Boston Carmen’s Union said 165 cash handling and fare collection jobs would be jeopardized. This includes technicians who repair fare collection equipment and workers in the MBTA’s Charlestown office known as the “money room.” Workers in that facility count MBTA fares, Mass Pike tolls and parking meter deposits from the city of Cambridge. The union represents 77 of these jobs that would be eliminated and given to private companies under the plan.
MBTA to consider privatizing services involving 250 jobs
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Herald, February 10, 2016
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials on Wednesday will take up a plan backed by Governor Charlie Baker to privatize departments that maintain fare machines, count cash fares, and run marketing and retail operations, a step that could eliminate about 250 jobs in all, according to MBTA officials. … MBTA and administration officials say they believe outsourcing the services could help the T vastly improve its fare-collection system and save millions of dollars that could be invested in the system. No specific figures on savings have been made public. … It would be among the first attempts by Baker’s administration to outsource services since the Legislature agreed to temporarily suspend a state law — specifically for the MBTA — that put up hurdles to privatizing public-sector jobs. The MBTA has considered privatizing some bus routes, but promised no layoffs would accompany that move. … About 165 jobs dedicated to fare collection and cash handling could be targeted in the privatization effort, MBTA officials said. In addition, they will look to privatize marketing services and retail operations; management of warehouses and materials; management of employee leave; management of telecommunication; contracts; and employees who handle the dispatch system for Transit Police. They will also look for savings in cleaning and elevator maintenance crews, which are already outsourced to private companies.
Unions rally against plan to privatize T services
Source: Antonio Caban, Lowell Sun, September 23, 2015
Concerned that the Baker administration’s effort to privatize some MBTA services could cost workers their jobs, union members gathered in protest on Wednesday, vowing to continue to call attention to the issue. Wearing matching orange shirts, nearly 80 members of Boston Carmen’s Union 589 turned out for the protest near their Devonshire Street headquarters. Aimee Daluz, an MBTA customer service worker, was among those passing out flyers. … Baker, who is in the midst of plans to revamp operations at the T after disastrous service last winter, said he will not move forward with plans to privatize certain MBTA bus routes if it doesn’t generate savings and efficiencies.
Union leaders urge MBTA officials to reconsider bus privatization plan
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston.com, September 14, 2015
Union heads called on MBTA officials Monday morning to pump the brakes on a plan that would allow some low-ridership bus routes to be operated by private companies. Russell Gittlen, the regional director of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and James O’Brien, who heads the local Carmen’s Union, each addressed the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board about the plan, which union members have criticized vociferously since it came to light last month. … MBTA officials have tried to assuage that fear, saying affected drivers and buses would be moved to help deal with busier bus routes. But Glitten and O’Brien said they think the agency should take a different approach—rather than bringing in outside help to handle slow routes, they say, the T should take it a step further and consider reconfiguring its bus routes. …
MBTA union, taxi drivers hold protests
Source: Chris Villani, Boston Herald, September 8, 2015
A demonstration by hundreds of members of the Carmen’s Union yesterday — protesting a move toward MBTA privatization on some bus lines that was backed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker as well as the Democratic Legislature — drew some high-profile support at the annual Greater Boston Labor Day Breakfast. … The Carmen’s Union was not alone in Lincoln Square. About 15-20 members of the Boston Taxi Drivers Association marched, holding signs saying ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are putting them out of business. Donna Blythe-Shaw, who represents the Boston taxi drivers, said she would like to see the same regulations applied to ride-sharing cars and taxis. Specifically, she said the union wants to make sure ride-sharing services can’t undercut meter fares, make sure that every car has a livery plate and that drivers are vetted the same way taxi cab drivers are vetted.
No layoffs in privatizing of bus lines, T officials say
Source: Nicole Dungca, Boston Globe, August 20, 2015
The MBTA’s top two officials said Thursday that no bus drivers would lose their jobs if the T privatizes certain bus routes, a day after the president of the agency’s largest union said outsourcing routes to private companies amounts to a “betrayal” by Governor Charlie Baker. … But Frank DePaola, the MBTA’s interim general manager, said on Thursday that bus drivers whose routes are affected by the plan would keep their jobs and be reassigned to other bus routes. O’Brien said that he still had concerns despite DePaola’s promise, delivered by phone, that the privatization plan would not result in job losses. … The 32 bus routes being discussed include late-night service lines, express routes, and some lines with lower ridership, according to the T. The routes would only represent about 2.5 percent of weekly ridership.
MBTA Looking To Privatize Bus Routes
Source: Andy Metzger, WBUR, August 21, 2015
All 93 buses and their 65 drivers that would be taken off of those 40 routes if service is privatized would be re-deployed to other areas of the system that need more service, MBTA Interim General Manager Frank DePaola told reporters Thursday. … If the privatization plan moves forward, MBTA officials said that while it would improve the efficiency of bus services, it would also likely increase the total costs to the MBTA because private carriers will likely require some public subsidy. It would also increase the amount of transit service and the number of jobs in the transit sector, as private operators supplement T service. Those facts did not sway O’Brien. … The MBTA has not yet determined what routes would be supplemented with the 93 buses and 65 operators that would be shifted away from routes covered by a private carrier.
The T wants to privatize some bus routes
Source: Adam Vaccaro, Boston.com, August 20, 2015
One of the major reforms to the MBTA this summer was a three-year reprieve from a law that puts a high barrier toward contracting out services to the private sector. Six weeks after peeling away the anti-privatization law, The Boston Globe reports, the T is preparing to ask private organizations about operating about 30 bus routes. … The MBTA told Boston.com in July that it had begun speaking “informally with a number of stakeholders and potential partners” about offering privatized late-night bus service, which has struggled financially. Bridj, a Boston startup that offers shuttle service from neighborhood to neighborhood through a smartphone app, is among the services to have participated in informal discussions with the T, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said at the time.
Gov. Baker ready to test outsourcing T work
Source: Matt Stout, Boston Herald, July 8, 2015
Gov. Charlie Baker said a budget measure to suspend the so-called Pacheco Law at the MBTA and open the beleaguered agency to more outsourced contracts isn’t an attempt at “privatizing the T” — but he wants to prove it works. … They included language lifting for three years the provisions of the Pacheco Law, which puts up high hurdles to bringing in private work, and creating a fiscal control board to oversee the transit agency, something Baker called the “most important” part of reforms. A separate MBTA reform bill remains in the House, but the suspension of the Pacheco Law — despite waves of protest from unions and some in the Senate — proved a victory for Baker….