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Gov. Healey, Local 589 Announce Tentative Agreement to Improve Frontline Employee Retention and Recruitment at MBTA

Posted on August 2, 2023

In the face of frontline staff workforce shortage, a four-year tentative agreement between ATU Local 589 and MBTA seeks to bolster MBTA frontline workforce numbers, including bus and train operators.

Updated August 3, 2023.

Today, President Jim Evers and members of Boston Carmen’s ATU Local 589, the union representing over 6,000 MBTA transit professionals, joined Governor Maura Healey, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng, and MBTA officials to announce a tentative new labor agreement aimed at improving frontline employee retention and recruitment at the MBTA. The tentative agreement will be presented to the MBTA Board of Directors for approval at a special meeting tomorrow morning. 

The agreement, subject to MBTA Board approval, is part of increased efforts by the Healey-Driscoll Administration to ensure the Authority retains experienced and trained frontline workers with the larger goal of shoring up MBTA workforce numbers and ensuring the availability of quality service for all riders.

The four-year agreement announced today includes overall wage increases and longevity bonuses (with increases at 10, 15, 20, 25 years) to help retain frontline workers plus select targeted increases aimed at hard-to-fill positions such as welders and overnight shifts. The deal also sets a framework to improve employee restroom access, expand bereavement leave to include domestic partners, and clarify language around assaults against transit workers, an increasing problem for members.

Additionally, the upcoming contract memorializes a range of recruitment incentives, including signing bonuses, such as those previously offered by the MBTA. This new contract follows a prior side letter that allows bus operators to be hired full-time rather than part-time.

The union has praised the approach of the new administration in its efforts to listen to frontline workers and put a strong focus on improving the MBTA after many prior years of workforce cuts, failed privatization schemes, and austerity budgeting measures that helped lead to the current frontline workforce shortages. 

"This contract agreement is an important investment in public transit in Massachusetts. It represents a strong partnership between our administration, the MBTA, and the Carmen's Union and a shared understanding that the success of the T relies on a strong and growing workforce,” said Governor Maura Healey. “This new contract will help attract and retain more workers in this desirable profession that offers good pay and benefits, advancement opportunities, and the chance to be a part of the solution that keeps our transit system moving forward." 

“This is a positive outcome for both MBTA workers and the riders we proudly serve every day,” said Jim Evers, Boston Carmen’s ATU Local 589 President. “With this strong agreement, the MBTA can attract even more of the frontline workers that the system needs in order to succeed. Thanks to the engagement of Local 589 members, strong support from our community allies along with Governor Healey, Secretary Fiandaca, and General Manager Eng, we have achieved an agreement that supports the retention of workers and that we believe will attract more workers to careers in frontline public transit that provide a pathway to the middle class.”

“This new contract is monumental in helping to improve the MBTA, and it will mean we can hire more workers and operators to meet the needs of the public,” said Alix Gaston, Boston Carmen’s ATU Local 589 member and a bus operator for 19 years. “I want to take this moment to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Governor Healey for staying true to her words and recognizing the importance of investing in transportation and the workers who power it.”

“We know the people who work each and every day at the MBTA are a crucial part of creating a safe, reliable, and equitable transportation system throughout our Commonwealth,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca. “This agreement is a success story between all parties involved and will help the MBTA in its mission to become a competitive employer and a leader in public transportation.”

“This agreement with Local 589 is a pivotal moment for the T, and with optimism, I’m looking forward to this going to the Board for a vote tomorrow,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “This demonstrates to our workforce, both current and future employees, how important they are to us and the service we provide. Working for the T is about improving lives, connecting people and communities. This contract greatly enhances our ability to attract new hires in key areas like bus operators by establishing a wage that is competitive with private industry. As we continue our aggressive efforts to hire and retain staff, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership, to the work of the MBTA’s Labor team for their contributions to this agreement, to Local 589 Carmen’s Union for their partnership, and to all the Authority's employees for their dedication and hard work.”

Key Provisions of New Local 589 Contract 

  • Four-year contract is effective July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2027.
  • Approximately 18% wage adjustment over four years, averaging approximately 4.5% per year.
  • Longevity bonuses at 10, 15, 20, and 25 years.
  • One-time bonus for eligible retirees to defer retirement to 2024.
  • Parental leave improvements.
  • Health benefit improvements.
  • Signing bonus eligibility now expanded to all job categorizations.

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