MBTA Aims to Boost Officer Retention with New Police Association Contract
Posted on November 16, 2023
Prioritizing frontline workers, agreement invests in the Transit force responsible for keeping riders safe.
Today, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Board of Directors unanimously approved a new four-year contract between the MBTA and the Police Association, which will endeavor to improve retention and support frontline patrol officers within the MBTA Transit Police Department through expanded benefits and increased wages. In a joint address to the MBTA Board of Directors, General Manager Phillip Eng and Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green updated the board on the positive impacts they foresee this contract having on the workforce as Green approaches his 33rd year of service to the MBTA.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to rebuilding our workforce, including our Transit Police Officers responsible for protecting the public and our workers,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “This contract and the speed at which we reached an agreement convey our understanding of the difficult but vital role our brave officers perform, putting the safety of our riders first every day. We’re grateful to have Chief Kenneth Green at the helm and appreciate his remarkable contributions to the MBTA over the past 33 years. His leadership and expertise continue to play a pivotal role in our ability to offer reliable service to the communities we serve.”
“We know that our employees are the backbone of the MBTA and this new contract is a message to MBTA officers that we appreciate the work they do, and we want to give them the financial resources to continue to have a career with the Transit Police force,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “We are grateful to the Transit Police Officers who protect the safety of customers and employees every single day.”
The four-year contract, beginning July 1, 2023, and lasting through June 30, 2027, includes:
- Overall wage increases. Approximately 18% wage adjustment over four years, averaging approximately 4.5% per year.
- Retirement Eligible Retention bonuses.
- Implementing a Longevity Bonus program at 10, 15, 20, and 25 years to address current staffing shortages and retain frontline officers.
- A one-time bonus of 10% for eligible retirees to defer retirement to the end of 2024.
The deal also expands the definition of bereavement leave to include domestic partners.
The incoming MBTA Transit Police Academy class starting December 11 will help strengthen the force protecting our transit system. This class of 42 recruits includes 16 future MBTA officers with others joining police departments across the area. Two experienced officers from Medford and Lexington are also transferring their talents to the MBTA force. After the six-month training academy, these new officers will be ready to protect and serve riders next summer. Additional officers will allow the MBTA Police to expand patrols and safety coverage across the transportation network.
“I am grateful to Governor Maura Healey, Secretary Tibbits-Nutt, and General Manager Eng for securing this generous contract for the Transit Police,” said Chief of Transit Police Kenneth Green. “This will significantly aid our retention and recruitment efforts. The decline in law enforcement applicants in recent years has been concerning, and this contract will play a crucial role in stabilizing and bolstering the ranks of the MBTA Transit Police. It places us in a strong position to attract new hires. As transit officers, we are unwavering in our commitment to safeguarding the commuting experience for our riders and transit colleagues.”
The Transit Police Association is approximately 3% of the MBTA’s affiliated workforce. Transit Police Sergeants and Lieutenants are represented by the MBTA Sergeants Association and the MBTA Superior Officers Association, respectively. Joining the transit police or any law enforcement agency in Massachusetts starts with the statewide civil service exam. Those who meet the qualifications and achieve a high score can pursue careers at departments like the MBTA Police and give back to their communities through public safety roles. The civil service system aims to ensure fair access and hiring. The MBTA encourages anyone interested in law enforcement to visit www.mass.gov/orgs/civil-service. The MBTA Transit Police provide a unique opportunity to serve while safeguarding the vital transportation services our communities rely on.
“This agreement demonstrates the power of collaboration between management and labor,” said MBTA Police Association President Robert Marino. “It’s a testament to what we can achieve when we work together towards a common goal. This contract is not just about fair wages and benefits for our police officers; it's about ensuring that our community has the best possible public safety services. I’m incredibly proud of our members and the MBTA for their dedication and commitment to this process.”
More generally, the MBTA's overall efforts to 'Rebuild' have been focused on recruitment, retention, skills training, and leadership development to cultivate the workforce needed to operate and maintain a modern transportation system. The MBTA has invested in restructuring the senior leadership team, improving safety protocols, engineering, planning, and frontline teams, and workforce development and training to ensure employees fulfill their responsibilities most effectively. To date, the MBTA has exceeded hiring nearly 1,200 employees in just 2023 alone, exceeding a goal set by the Healey-Driscoll Administration, whose investment of $20 million in the supplemental budget supported the Local 589 Agreement critical to the MBTA hiring efforts.
Building upon the positive momentum established by the Local 589 Agreement, the MBTA was able to swiftly negotiate this agreement, further solidifying its dedication to its frontline safety workers. In contrast to the previous contract negotiation, which took six years to finalize, this agreement was secured in months.