OPEIU 2's Long Ride to a Fair Contract at WMATA

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)Capping more than five and a half years of struggle for a fair contract, OPEIU Local 2 members voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to accept an agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Local 2 represents 1,000 salaried WMATA employees, who received a long-overdue raise of 13.7 percent and a retroactive lump sum of up to 37 percent of annual pay, with additional 2 percent across-the-board raises scheduled for July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. Health, insurance and retirement benefits are locked in from the previous contract until a new contract is settled after July 1, 2016. The Local 2 bargaining team knew they were in for a fight from the onset of negotiations in 2007, with a new anti-union general manager at WMATA who had been specifically brought in to slash costs. After more than two years of negotiations, management had barely moved off their initial position and it took more than three more years of arbitration, after more delays and legal appeals by WMATA, to reach an agreement, which then had to be approved by the members and ratified by the WMATA Board of Directors. “In spite of management’s efforts to demoralize the bargaining unit, members stayed committed to a fair contract,” said Local 2 president Dan Dyer. Even now, the struggle continues, Dyer reports, with management refusing to pay some former employees who are owed retroactive pay. A union grievance is now in arbitration. - adapted from a longer report in OPEIU's Summer 2014 edition of "White Collar" (page 12).


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