Union wins a victory on retroactive pay increases

Two of the three members of the Oregon Employment Relations Board has sided with the Amalgamated Transit Union in its wage dispute with TriMet, potentially increasing the shortfall in the regional transit agency's upcoming budget up to $17 million.

The ruling was issued by ERB Chairwoman Susan Rossiter and member Paul Gamson on Feb. 16. It found that TriMet violated state labor laws by improperly including new issues in the final offer it made on the new contract with ATU. The union filed a complaint over the offer with ERB that lead to the ruling.

In a Monday press release, the ATU said TriMet must grant retroactive and future pay increases to all of its members. According to the release:

TriMet must increase all unionized employee wages by 3 percent retroactive to June 1, 2011; by 2.1 percent increase retroactive to Dec. 1, 2011, and by 2.9 percent wage increase due on June 1, 2012.

• Click here to read the ERB ruling on TriMet's union pay increases.

TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said if that is true, the agency is looking at a $17 million funding shortfall instead of the $12 million cut that would not have included the increases.

In a prepared statement, TriMet said it was disappointed with the ruling and was evaluating its options, including continuing through the arbitration process, settling with the ruling, or appealing it.

Still to be resolved is the ATU complaint with ERB on a TriMet decision to require union employees to pay a portion of their health care premiums. Fetsch said she had not been able to learn how an adverse ruling on that complaint would potentially affect the budget.

The TriMet board is considering options to close the shortfall, including ending the downtown Portland Free Rail Zone, eliminating zoned fares and instituting a single one-way charge and all-day pass, and reducing times for both bus and rail service.

TriMet has scheduled a handful of public forums on its budget proposals:

• Monday, March 19, Clackamas Town Center, community room, Lower Level, 12000 S.E. 82nd Ave., 4:30-6:30 p.m.

• Tuesday, March 20, Beaverton Library, conference room, 12375 S.W. Fifth St., 4:30-6:30 p.m.

• Wednesday, March 21, Portland Building Auditorium, 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave., 4:30-6:30 p.m.

• Thursday, March 22, Multnomah County East County Health Center, 600 N.E. Eighth St., Gresham, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

• Tuesday, March 27, Multnomah County Library, North Portland Branch, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, 512 N. Killingsworth St., 5:30-7:30 p.m.

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