Union-busting in Boston

Jonathan Flanders jon_flanders at SPAMcompuserve.com
Thu Dec 9 14:45:05 MST 1999




 MBTA to invite bids on more Amtrak work

 By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff, 12/08/99

      he MBTA will put two more portions of its commuter-rail operation
work out to bid in the near future, an authority board member said this
week.

 ''They're going to go out, to the best of my knowledge,'' said James
Radley, referring to the actual operations of the commuter-rail network, as
well as track maintenance. ''That's what we want to happen.''

 The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority awarded the third part of
the commuter-rail
 service - equipment maintenance - to low bidder, Bay State Transit
Services Inc., in May. All three parts of the commuter-rail, or Purple
Line, operation have been done under contract with Amtrak for about 12
years.

 Amtrak and its unions are fighting hard to stop the work from being taken
away by those who say they can do it cheaper. In fact, the MBTA, Amtrak,
and Bay State are amid a messy and uncertain transition right now, with
Amtrak calling in all the political support it can to keep the work that
Bay State, by contract, is required to take over on March 1.

 The union leaders are ''running around thinking this isn't a done deal,''
Radley said this week,
 referring to Amtrak's labor organizations. ''It's a long process to undo
it.''

 Though Bay State is having trouble persuading the current workforce to
apply to work for the
 company, Radley said the company is obligated to bring in workers from
elsewhere if necessary.

 ''If these guys can't do it, it goes to the next bidder,'' Radley said,
speaking of Bay State. Of four bidders in the competition for the work, Bay
State was the lowest, Bombardier was next lowest, and Amtrak was the
highest. The other bidder was MassRail.

 Bay State, a joint venture of Herzog Transit Services of St. Joseph, Mo.,
and Boise Locomotive Co. of Pittsburgh, bid $175.5 million over five years
for the work, $116 million less than Amtrak's bid.

 Charles Moneypenny, president of Commuter Rail Workers United, a coalition
of the Amtrak
 unions, wrote to the state transportation secretary, Kevin J. Sullivan, on
Monday saying Bay State's effort to hire workers he represents ''was
greeted by the workforce with the following response:
 Drop dead.''

 Moneypenny contends that the MBTA is engaged in union busting, but he has
been unsuccessful in getting the courts to halt the process.

 Moneypenny commended Sullivan's staff for heading off a potentially
dangerous situation when Bay State officials, conducting an inspection in
preparation for taking over maintenance work, were confronted by angry
Amtrak workers recently at the Boston Engine Terminal in Somerville.

 However, Moneypenny wrote, ''The notion that ... Bay State Transit can
hope to find hundreds of scabs, train them next to the people whose jobs
they'd be stealing, while expecting the service to run, and order to be
maintained, is madness.''

 Amtrak's New England general manager, William B. Duggan, wrote to the MBTA
saying further
 visits by Bay State officials ''could result in a potential situation
which is unmanageable and poses a potential safety risk.''

 He told the T that Amtrak workers ''will not provide mechanical labor to
facilitate the audit and inspection of equipment being performed by Bay
State Transit.'' And he proposed that the MBTA relocate Amtrak workers and
the equipment they maintain during any future visits by Bay State.

 ''Amtrak is concerned for the environment which continued escalation of
tensions creates,'' Duggan wrote. He added that, if the inspections are to
continue at facilities where Amtrak workers are doing their jobs, ''Bay
State will be required to deliver to Amtrak a release agreement releasing
Amtrak from any and all liability for losses, claims, and damages incurred
by Bay State.''

 Asked about two inspections last week in which crowds of Amtrak workers
shouted at and
 disrupted Bay State's visits, an MBTA spokesman, who asked not to be
identified, said, ''That's the trouble with Amtrak. They can't even control
their own workers.''

 Bay State officials say they plan to take over the work by the March 1
contract deadline.

 Radley said putting the two other parts of the commuter-rail work out is
''the right thing in terms of rules and regulations.'' The Federal Transit
Administration has directed the MBTA to try to save money on its
commuter-rail service, which serves 50,000 people daily.









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