VTA and ATU Local 265 continue to negotiate for a successor labor agreement. Until most recently, the parties were moving closer to reaching our common goals which are to ensure good and reliable transportation services for the public and provide equitable and competitive compensation to ATU employees – all while aiming to achieve long-term financial sustainability for VTA. However, there are still major issues that remain unresolved regarding wages, pensions and operational efficiencies, and the parties are now farther apart. To narrow this gap, VTA and ATU will meet with a mediator over the coming days.
Since last August, VTA and ATU have made significant progress over the course of 48 negotiation sessions, reaching 27 tentative agreements. These include a cost of living increase for retirees, accelerated wage progression, $300 per year in medical expenses for each of the 1,600 union members, and paid benefits for union officials and union administrative personnel.
VTA’s latest three-year contract proposal offers a 3%, 2.5% and a 2.5% wage increase, for a total of 8% over three years, plus a 3.1% lumpsum payment spread over 3 years (1.1%, 1% and 1%). These lumpsum payments are to assist with the pension contribution that VTA is asking ATU employees to make, totaling 3.1% over three years.
To illustrate how far apart the parties are, ATU initially sought a three-year, 45% wage increase. After protracted negotiations, the union currently remains at a three-year, 13.5% wage increase, but with no additional pension contribution. ATU is the only bargaining unit at VTA that does not fully contribute to their pension. Regrettably, in ATU’s last counter-proposal, union leadership did not accept this responsibility as their VTA labor peers have and are pursuing an authorization to strike.
Union Strike Authorization
On March 20, the members of ATU Local 265 voted to authorize a potential strike. Subsequent steps have been taken in the union negotiations process which include approval from ATU International and authorization from the South Bay Labor Council. ATU will need to obtain a majority vote from its members rejecting VTA’s final proposal before a strike can occur.
After eight months of hard, good-faith bargaining, VTA believes it is in the best interest of both parties and the public to have a neutral viewpoint that would be most helpful in reaching an equitable agreement that stays in line with our common goals. VTA’s long-term financial stability will be essential so that the organization and its employees can continue to provide the level of service that our traveling public expects and deserves, and to ensure that we can continue to provide a high-quality and competitive work environment for all VTA employees.
Both parties are committed to continue to negotiate in good faith in order to best serve our public, our employees, and our taxpayers. We will provide updates on the negotiation process and information related to any potential service-related issues via our blog and the Labor Relations webpage.