Boston Mechanics Rally to Save Public Transit

IAM Local 264 joined other members of the Invest Now MA coalition for a rally at the Massachusetts State House. 

Speakers at the rally called for legislators and the MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board to reject proposals that would outsource core MBTA bus maintenance services to corporations. 

“It’s time to have a real conversation about investing in public transit for the benefit of riders and businesses,” said Mike Vartabedian, an IAM Local 264 representative with more than 20 years’ experience fixing MBTA vehicles. “It’s time to start talking about revenue and public transit investment for the benefit of Massachusetts riders, businesses, workers, and taxpayers. Real reform is possible if the MBTA collaborates directly with its workforce rather than with unaccountable private operators who don’t care about our state.”

A recent report from the Invest Now coalition showed MBTA spends a smaller percentage of its budget on maintenance salaries than most large transit agencies. The report debunked misleading claims from the right-wing Pioneer Institute and showed that, adjusted for cost of living, MBTA bus maintenance workers received pay that is in line with national averages (just 2 percent above), according to public data.

“We won’t let core public services like MBTA bus maintenance be dismantled and destroyed,” added Vartabedian. “We’re calling on the legislature and the Fiscal Management Control Board to stand with riders and workers to protect our public transit and taxpayers. We care too much about the safety of our riders and our craft to let another costly, underbid privatization scheme destroy the MBTA bus maintenance department.”

IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro, Sr. and International President Bob Martinez both spoke out against these privatization efforts.

“Privatization is nothing more than a ploy to avoid paying workers decent, fair wages and benefits,” said Conigliaro. “This is a thinly veiled scheme to seize control of public services, and assets. In the end it means less control, accountability for the public, and will lower quality, with ultimately higher costs.”

“MBTA mechanics, fuelers and the other skilled professionals in IAM Local 264 are some of the most innovative workers in the public transit sector,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “We can’t allow out-of-touch politicians and MBTA management to use the threat of privatization as a negotiating tactic.”

“Handing control of public transit to for-profit corporations has been a very bad deal for Massachusetts taxpayers, workers, and riders,” said Michael Haywood, an 11-year MBTA mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward. “Just look at the disaster with handing over the commuter rail to Keolis. We care about our riders, and we don’t want to see the same expensive nightmare happen again by privatizing core bus services.”

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Rally to protect MBTA services and jobs

Read: Unions and Democrats try to Halt Baker’s MBTA outsourcing plans before bus garages go private (WGBH)

More than 450 mechanics, fuelers, and other skilled professionals united in IAM Local 264 proudly contribute to the operation of the MBTA and their communities every day.

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