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Latest News - November 2014

November 16, 2014
MARTA Union Ratifies New Contract

MARTA union workers voted Saturday to ratify a new labor agreement with management. It’s their first new contract since 2010 and includes a long-awaited pay raise.

“Fourteen months of negotiation. We've come a long way,” said Howard.

MARTA’s board is expected to finalize the deal at its next meeting Dec. 4.

Howard didn't want to discuss specifics until that happens, but according to several employees, the contract includes a 13 percent pay raise staggered over three years - the first salary bump for employees since 2006, according to the union.

During negotiations, MARTA management repeatedly cited a 2012 report from the consulting firm KPMG. The report suggested worker benefits were too generous and the agency should explore privatizing functions like cleaning services and payroll.

Union leaders wouldn't say if the new deal addresses those issues, but Howard remained defiant about the report.

“We find the KPMG report faulty and flawed so we’ll be one hundred percent prepared to push back on any of our work going out [to private companies]. We’ll do whatever we have to do, including legal action,” said Howard.

In response, MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris said, “MARTA remains committed to transforming the way we do business to ensure that our customers are always getting high-quality transit service that’s efficient and cost-effective. That’s our bottom line and we’re prepared to work with anyone who shares that commitment.”

Howard, who as head of the union represents about 3,200 of the transit agency's 4,000 or so workers, is optimistic about the future. He said Clayton County’s recent decision to join MARTA will provide a major boost to the system and its employees.

"We maxed out at around 5,000 employees before the recession started years ago so hopefully we can get back up to those numbers and provide good jobs for people here in metro Atlanta and the surrounding counties," said Howard.



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