Los Angeles Mayor Proposes Arbitration To Resolve MTA Labor Dispute With Mechanics
Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn (D) on Thursday asked the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to agree to allow a panel of arbitrators to resolve a labor dispute with mechanics represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Los Angeles Times reports. Hahn made the proposal one day before the mechanics plan to vote on the latest MTA contract proposal (Bernstein/Streetner, Los Angeles Times, 11/7). The mechanics had worked without a contract for more than one year before they began a strike on Oct. 14. Contract negotiations resumed last month after a more than two-month delay, but the negotiations ended over a dispute related to the MTA contribution to the union health care fund, which is currently insolvent, and the management of the fund by the union. MTA contributes about $1.4 million each month to the fund, and the union administers health insurance policies for members. However, union officials maintain that health care costs have increased to about $1.9 million per month over the past year because of health insurance premium increases. The MTA last week issued a final contract proposal that includes a 3% wage increase over three years and a 44% increase in the monthly contributions that the MTA makes to the health care fund (California Healthline, 11/4). Under the contract proposal, the MTA also immediately would provide $4.7 million to the fund. All 2,800 union members will vote on the proposal on Friday. State officials will monitor the vote, with results announced by late afternoon (Los Angeles Times, 11/7). ATU officials expect members to reject the proposal and force the MTA to accept a proposal by the union under which mechanics would return to work in exchange for arbitration (California Healthline, 11/4).
Hahn said that ATU should agree to provide MTA board members with "an escape hatch" as part of the arbitration proposal; the union should allow a "super-majority" of MTA board members to have the ability to overturn the decision of the arbitrators, he said. MTA and unions officials did not comment on the proposal from Hahn (Los Angeles Times, 11/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.