Rail union solidarity nets MBTA victory

Rail unions won a major victory in Boston the last week of May as MBTA signed a three-year contract with Amtrak to continue all services, including mechanical, transportation and engineering.

The three-year deal will save hundreds of jobs and will maintain employees' current rates of pay, which were threatened by Bay State Transit Service's bid to take the mechanical work away from MBTA and force workers into a non-union environment.

Charles Moneypenny, legislative representative of the Transport Workers Union of America, hailed the contract as a victory for workers, passengers and taxpayers.

"It is a tribute to the courage and commitment shown by each and every one of you throughout this fight," Moneypenny said.

"You won this fight, you beat their efforts to cheat you, by sticking up for yourselves and for one another."

A coalition of 11 labor unions, working under the name "Commuter Rail Workers United," spearheaded a grassroots campaign to pressure MBTA management to stay with Amtrak.

BLE President Edward Dubroski specifically recognized BLE-Amtrak General Chairman Mark Kenny, Massachusetts State Legislative Board Chairman George Newman, and Division 57 Local Chairman Mike O'Bryan for their tireless efforts as BLE representatives on the coalition.

The bid by Bay State Transit Service to take work away from MBTA was plagued by controversy and alleged conflicts of interest. For example, Gilbert E. Carmichael was serving as a top executive at Bay State's parent company when it tried to take the maintenance contract away from MBTA. At the same time, however, he was serving as Chairman of the Amtrak Reform Council (ARC).

The ARC was formed in 1997 for the purpose of evaluating Amtrak's performance and making recommendations for achieving cost containment, productivity improvements and financial reforms.

In addition, Bay State went to court and obtained a temporary injunction prohibiting Amtrak and MBTA from continuing their relationship. On May 24, fortunately, the injunction was overturned in a Massachusetts court, clearing the way for MBTA and Amtrak to finalize their contract for maintenance of commuter rail equipment.

"From this day forward, when someone wants to cite an example of what true solidarity means, they need only point to Boston," Moneypenny said.

 

2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers