Stand With Verizon Workers for a Lunch Hour Rally in Boston

Boston Stands With Union Labor Join Building Trades, Teachers, Firefighters, Machinists. Carmens Union, Teamsters and More... WEDNESDAY MAY 11, 2016 LUNCH HOUR RALLY SUPPORT STRIKING VERIZON WORKERS 6 BOWDOIN SQUARE BOSTON. (LOCATED ON CAMBRIDGE STREET BETWEEN CITY HALL AND MGH) SEND A Read more

The MBTA Health and Welfare Annual Open Enrollment

The MBTA Health and Welfare Annual Open Enrollment period begins,  April 22, 2016 and ends May 20, 2016.   There is a total of 2,300 (Actives or Retirees) who have not enrolled in the Fund Read more

House nixes gas tax hike, film tax credit cut

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE THE MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE on Monday shot down proposals to increase the gas tax and put a cap on the state’s film tax credit program as they began to dispense with more Read more

Stand With Verizon Workers for a Lunch Hour Rally in Boston

Posted on by IAMLocal264 in Featured Posts | Comments Off on Stand With Verizon Workers for a Lunch Hour Rally in Boston

LogoJPEGVerizon Greedy

Boston Stands With Union Labor
Join Building Trades, Teachers, Firefighters, Machinists. Carmens Union,
Teamsters and More…
WEDNESDAY MAY 11, 2016
LUNCH HOUR RALLY
SUPPORT STRIKING VERIZON WORKERS

6 BOWDOIN SQUARE BOSTON.
(LOCATED ON CAMBRIDGE STREET BETWEEN CITY HALL AND MGH)
SEND A MESSAGE TO VERIZON
AMERICAN WORKERS ARE UNITED AGAINST GREED!
SUPPORTERS WILL BEGIN MARCHING AT
11:30AM FROM 3 LOCATIONS AND MEET AT BOWDOIN SQUARE AT NOON.
– THE HOOKER ENTRANCE AT THE MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE
– CITY HALL PLAZA
– POST OFFICE SQUARE PARK
If you plan on attending or if you have any questions contact Katie Hayden at khayden@massaflcio.org.

The MBTA Health and Welfare Annual Open Enrollment

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The MBTA Health and Welfare Annual Open Enrollment period begins,  April 22, 2016 and ends May 20, 2016.   There is a total of 2,300 (Actives or Retirees) who have not enrolled in the Fund as of today.  Recently, these members received the attached inserts through the mail.

Also, those members who elected to be “Direct Bill” will receive a statement for FY16 next week.  Payment is due by May 20, 2016.  If payment is not received the
Health and Welfare Benefits will be terminated.

If you are not enrolled this is a copy of the letter you should have recieved.

Transit Employees Health and Welfare Fund

10 Park Plaza, Suite 4810

Boston, MA 02116

Open Enrollment Period

April 22, 2016 – May 20, 2016

April 22, 2016

 

 

Dear MBTA Active Employee and Retiree:

 

You are receiving this notification as you are currently not enrolled in the Transit Employees Health and Welfare Fund. This is an opportunity for those who are not currently enrolled in the H&W Fund to participate, effective July 1, 2016. The Open Enrollment period begins April 22, 2016 through May 20, 2016.

 

If you elect NOT to join the Fund during this time, you will need to wait until the next Health and Welfare Annual Enrollment period in 2017, with a benefit effective date of July 1, 2017.

 

If you chose to participate in the Fund you must complete, sign and date the Health and Welfare Enrollment form. Currently, there is an annual administrative cost of $24.00. This cost is for the administration of these supplemental benefits offered through the Fund.

 

Active employee benefits:

  • Delta Dental benefits for full time active employees with premium cost share of 57% by the Authority and 43% employee paid
  • Life insurance policy in the amount of $25,000 for full-time employees and $6,000 for part-time employee, 100% paid by the Authority
  • Vision care, cost sharing of 25% by the Authority and 75% employee paid

 

Retiree benefits:

  • Medicare Part B premium reimbursed by the Authority for qualified retirees and their spouses

age 65 or older

  • Life insurance policy in the amount of $5,000, 100% paid by the Authority
  • Vision care, currently provided by Davis Vision, 100% paid by retiree

 

The Fund enrollment form, along with the enrollment forms for Delta Dental for active full time employees and Davis Vision are enclosed.   If you wish to participate in these benefits, the forms must be received by the Benefits Office, at the address below, no later than Friday, May 20, 2016. If you have any questions you can call the Benefits office at 617-222-3244.

 

Transit Employees Health and Welfare Fund

10 Park Plaza, Suite 4810

Boston, MA 02116

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Secretary,

Board of Trustees

Transit Employees Health and Welfare Fund

House nixes gas tax hike, film tax credit cut

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STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

THE MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE on Monday shot down proposals to increase the gas tax and put a cap on the state’s film tax credit program as they began to dispense with more than 1,300 amendments to the annual state budget bill.

The House swiftly took care of more than 30 revenue-related amendments to the $39.48 billion budget, rejecting four and voting to study two others. The rest were withdrawn by their sponsors after behind the scenes talks.

The gas tax and film tax credit amendments, both filed by Rep. Angelo Scaccia, were rejected on voice votes.

Calling it the “biggest boondoggle” he has seen in his long legislative career, Scaccia argued for Massachusetts to cap its film tax credit at $40 million. Gov. Charlie Baker has also targeted the credit, which supporters say has enabled the state to grow its film industry sector.

“We have to get rid of this boondoggle,” said Scaccia.House leadership has traditionally provided strong support for the tax credit. House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano opposed Scaccia’s amendment, noting a Braintree company employs 14 accountants who work in the sector and “wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have a film tax credit.”

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante described the credit as a benefit for parts of the state that miss out on programs geared toward urban areas or specific industries. She pointed to several movies filmed in her North Shore district, including The Proposal, The Perfect Storm and Joy.

“I don’t begrudge gateway cities and larger cities for the amount of money they get, I do not begrudge Boston from having a whole MBTA travel system,” Ferrante said. “However, it is upsetting to me when I hear folks from larger cities complain about a program that directly results in a benefit for my district and to other districts that simply do not qualify for the benefits that larger cities get. I also am concerned and upset when I see tax credits go mainly to the businesses of white collar workers, because once again those aren’t the tax credits that benefit my district.”

Scaccia had also sought to increase the state’s tax on gasoline from 24 cents per gallon to 27 cents per gallon, saying during debate on the amendment that he was “not here to raise taxes per se” but wanted to address the way the state pays for transportation. The gas tax increase could help the MBTA move away from using capital funds to pay for operating expenses, which “does not make financial sense” Scaccia said.

Rep. Geoff Diehl, a chief proponent of the 2014 ballot campaign that repealed automatic gas tax increases, countered that the MBTA has sufficient revenue to cover its personnel expenses and road construction but must manage its money better. He said Massachusetts spends over four times the national average to repair roads, and 49 percent of the gas tax revenues go to the T.

During his arguments for an amendment to study reducing the state sales tax to 5 percent, Scaccia noted the MBTA was one of the few areas targeted for major investments in the budget, with $93 million more.

T board wants all-night service proposal vetted

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Via Commonwealth Magazine

By Bruce Mohl

mbta_map_630

THE MBTA OVERSIGHT BOARD on Monday put on hold a plan to add additional bus routes to mitigate the cancellation of late-night service until a more sweeping proposal for all-night bus service can be vetted.

The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board was intrigued enough by a proposal put forth on March 30 in CommonWealth magazine by three transportation advocates – Ari Ofsevit, Jeremy Mendelson, and James Aloisi – to put on hold a staff recommendation to add the bus routes.

In their article, the three advocates suggested expanding an existing bus service for early-morning workers to provide all-night service every day of the week. The proposal called for selected buses to run on an hourly basis during the night from most areas served by the T to a central point such as Copley Square, where passengers could make connections to their final destination. One bus route would run to Logan Airport, where nearly half of all shifts begin before MBTA service starts. The advocates said they believed the expanded service “would cost on the order of $1 million per year.”

While state transportation officials were skeptical of the $1 million figure, members of the control board wanted more information about the proposal before taking any action. They asked T officials to examine the cost of the proposed service and its ability to serve low-income and minority riders.

The debate rekindled a sensitive subject for the T. The transit agency last month canceled its late-night service on weekend nights because of concerns about the high cost. Just before the service was shut down, the Federal Transit Administration said the T needed to analyze whether cancellation of the service would disproportionately impact low-income and minority riders. The T had taken the view that cancellation of the late-night weekend service wasn’t a major service change that required review.

John Englander, the general counsel of the MBTA, said at Monday’s meeting of the control board that the impact of the service cancellation can be analyzed two ways: either on the population at large or just the T’s riders. He said a population analysis showed no disproportionate impact on minority and low-income residents, while the analysis of riders did show a disproportionate impact. As a result, Englander said, the T was not required to take any action to mitigate the impact of its late-night service cancellation, but could take voluntary steps to ease the impact.

Charles Planck, the T’s deputy chief operating officer, outlined a voluntary mitigation plan that called for additional service on seven bus routes on some mornings between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and on weekends. Planck said the mitigation plan, with a cost of more than $600,000, would have to be approved by the board by April 15 to be implemented by the T on June 25.

Under questioning from control board members, Planck said the all-night, all-week service proposed by the three transportation advocates had attracted a lot of interest but not been vetted by T officials. State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack suggested the cost of the all-night service proposal would be a lot more than the bus route additions being proposed by the T. “It doesn’t seem like it would be able to be done for $1 million,” Pollack said of the proposal by the advocates.

Brian Lang, a member of the control board, said the T couldn’t afford to do both the T’s proposed mitigation effort and the all-night service, so he urged tabling the T’s proposal until the all-night service could be fully vetted.

Rafael Mares of the Conservation Law Foundation said the two options were not incompatible. He said the T could add the bus routes now and, if the all-night approach panned out, add it on later. By taking no action until a full cost analysis of the all-night service is done, Mares said, low-income and minority riders of the T could suffer without any late-night service until the fall.

Lilly Ledbetter tells union women about ongoing struggle for equal pay

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lledbetter530

By Mark Gruenberg

SILVER SPRING, Md. –  Despite some gains in recent years – including legislation named for her that lets women and minorities sue for equal pay for equal work – women still face a tough road to equal pay, activist Lilly Ledbetter says.

“Some single mothers work two jobs and extra time on weekends and still can’t pay their bills,” the soft-spoken but determined grandmother from Birmingham, Ala., told several hundred union women gathered in the D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Md., for the Coalition of Labor Union Women’s Election 2016: What’s At Stake two-day conference.

That’s because working women suffer widespread pay discrimination, and even though they can sue for back pay, thanks to the law named for her, they still face a long and hard slog to get it, Ledbetter said.

With Equal Pay Day scheduled for April 12 – the day marking when a working woman earns enough in one year plus extra months to equal what a working man earned the previous year alone-the unionists brainstormed on tactics to raise the issue of equal pay for equal work and other issues important to working women to the top of the 2016 campaign agenda.

Ledbetter, who rose to prominence as a campaigner for equal pay when the U.S. Supreme Court turned her pay discrimination case down – on a 5-4 vote in 2007 – agreed with that priority, with special reference to the High Court’s role.

Ledbetter, a retired 19-year supervisor at the Goodyear Tire Company plant in Birmingham, Ala., first found she was being discriminated against in pay when someone else slipped her an anonymous note near the end of her tenure saying that male supervisors, even with less experience than she had, earned more.

The difference, she told the CLUW group, reached 40 percent, despite her superior ratings in managing 52-60 workers at Goodyear. Ledbetter sued, Goodyear resisted, and she took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the GOP-named five-man majority threw out lower court verdicts in her favor.

Justice Samuel Alito, Ledbetter told CLUW, wrote the decision against her. If Justice Sandra Day O’Connor had not retired, Ledbetter said, she would have won her case. And even before that, Congress – a Republican Congress, though Ledbetter did not say so – cut maximum awards in cases like hers to $300,000. The Alabama jury had awarded her $3.8 million.

The Ledbetter case turned the country upside down, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg challenged the country and Congress to overturn the ruling. Lawmakers did so in 2009. “The Ledbetter bill kept the courtroom doors open,” after the court slammed them, she said.

That means the Supreme Court is extremely important to working women in this election, Ledbetter told CLUW.

The court has one vacancy, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, intellectual leader of its GOP-named right wing. President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C., to succeed Scalia, but the Senate’s ruling Republicans refuse even to hold a hearing on Garland, much less a vote.

“This is so critical to young people, who understand they don’t have equal pay,” Ledbetter explained. “And women and minorities have to understand that once it (equal pay) is gone, it’s gone.”

That’s because even in cases where women and minorities prove that firms discriminated by sex – as Ledbetter did against Goodyear – race, gender or more, the harmed workers rarely get back pay. Working women thus lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each. They also lose Social Security credit for what would have been higher pay.

“It’s not so much what happens to us, but how we react to it, and what do we do to change it,” Ledbetter said of her fight, and the fights of other women for equal pay for equal work that she cited.

Union women must be in the forefront of the fight and unions are key to it, Ledbetter added. “You union people are very supportive and we can’t get our unions taken away in this country,” she declared.

The Goodyear plant where Ledbetter worked is unionized, with the Steelworkers, and she has said previously that if the contract had covered her – it did not, because she was a supervisor – the pay discrimination would not have occurred.

The role of the courts and the right wing’s ideological push to pack them was one key issue CLUW delegates discussed on April 8. Others included the big picture of the election, with emphasis on what working women’s issues will be important, attacks on women’s health, so-called right to work legislation, key races and how CLUW members can make a difference.

CLUW President Connie Leak, an autoworker, struck those themes, and related them to the upcoming election. She didn’t name candidates, but made it clear that one of the two major parties – the GOP – follows the lead of the Republican-named High Court justices.

“Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?” Leak asked. “We have to do this because we know what we are facing. I don’t have to call out no names because the names are the ones we don’t want to be in charge” in the White House, she stated.

“So that means getting off your rusty-dustys. It’s being about the fight.”

Court dismisses lawsuit against MBTA for last winter’s problems

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A judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking refunds from the MBTA due to poor service during the 2015 Snowpacolypse that devastated public transit.

The MBTA and its commuter rail operator, Keolis Commuter Services, were sued last spring by Raquel Rodriguez, who bought monthly commuter rail passes during the winter. She argued commuters deserved a refund since their rail travels were rendered torturous — if they even occurred — by the weeks of cancellations and delays during the period of record-setting snowfall.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mitchell Kaplan didn’t agree. In his decision, he wrote that it wasn’t the role of the court to determine whether the T and Keolis had done “all they could reasonably accomplish” to dig out of the snow, whether the T should be given more funding, or whether it had adequately given commuters enough relief when it offered a discount on passes last spring.

Kaplan expressed sympathy in his decision for last winter’s commuters.

“Nonetheless, frequently, when government fails to provide services of the quality and consistency that the public expects, recourse must be through political institutions, not through the courts,” he wrote.

Kaplan said the T was not in breach of contract with commuters, because the T is not required to operate on its usual schedule.

“[T]he MBTA had no express contractual obligation to provide ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ commuter rail service during and after the record-breaking snow storms in 2015, even though the plaintiff may have expected such rail service,” he wrote.

Claims against Keolis were dismissed largely because it is the contractual operator of the commuter rail, working at the behest of the T.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo released the following statement:

The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services recognize the severity of the service disruptions last winter, and regret the inconvenience to so many customers, but we are gratified that the court has recognized that the MBTA cannot be answerable in a court of law for financial damages when commuter rail service experiences the delays and cancellations that are inevitable on a system as complex as this one. The T has been working very hard to prevent significant disruptions in the future, spending tens of millions of dollars making its vehicles and infrastructure more resilient to severe weather conditions.

The T gave commuters a 15 percent discounts on passes last May as an apology for the inconvenience, and offered free fares for one day.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the court the decision came from.

Claims on T retirement fund ‘lack merit’

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Forensic accounting firm says allegations of inaccuracies ‘unfounded’

Click HERE to view the report.

 STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

A forensic accounting firm hired by the MBTA Retirement Fund in the wake of a report alleging significant inaccuracies in the fund’s financial reporting has concluded that the allegations are “unfounded” and “lack merit.”

The FTI Consulting report was assembled by a team of accountants and actuaries in recent months after a Boston Globe report in June 2015 on assertions by Wall Street whistleblower Harry Markopolos. The self-employed fraud examiner concluded the transit system retirement plan’s health may have been overstated by as much as $470 million due to the understatement of liabilities and the overstatement of investment returns, the Globe reported.

Markopolos told the Globe that the $1.6 billion plan’s performance appeared “too good to be true,” adding: “Someone needs to go in and count the assets to make sure they’re all really there.”

 According to the FTI Consulting report, neither FTI nor the MBTA Retirement Fund were able to obtain the report from Markopolos and received no response from him when requests for the report were made.

FTI traced the fund’s year-end investment balances for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and its reported investment returns for 2011, 2012, and 2103, finding “a few insignificant differences” and no errors, according to the report, which was signed by FTI senior managing director John Sullivan.

The mortality table used by the fund “was properly updated to reflect the actual experience for its members,” the FTI report said. Also, asset return assumptions and the asset smoothing technique used by the fund were “reasonable and appropriately applied in accordance with the applicable actuarial standards,” according to the report from FTI, a leading provider of forensic accounting services. The firm said it reviewed thousands of pages of documents and worked with the fund officials during its inquiry.

“The FTI report concludes that the allegations contained in the Markopolos Report regarding the Fund’s audited financial statements lack merit,” the MBTA Retirement Fund said in a statement. “The Retirement Board is very pleased that this independent review thoroughly validates the Fund’s reporting and results. The concerns created by these unfounded allegations can now be lifted, and the Fund looks forward to continuing to serve the workers and families that rely on it to secure their families.”

The FTI report also looked at the fund’s reporting in connection with investments with Fletcher Asset Management, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013, and concluded that “nothing came to our attention that suggests the accounting for the Fletcher Investment did not comply with generally accepted accounting principles.”

According to state Comptroller Thomas Shack, the state’s audited financial statements are overdue and have been on hold because state transportation officials have yet to release data due to FTI Consulting’s review in connection with the Markopolos report.

A fund official said that now that the FTI review is done, KPMG needs to complete the fund’s audited financials for 2014.

Critics of the MBTA Retirement Fund, which has 10 employees, say that while it receives public funds it operates in secret, with closed board meetings, and deserves more public scrutiny.

A fund official previously said the board’s next meeting was scheduled for March 18, but confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the board had met earlier Wednesday and voted to make the FTI report public.

The Globe’s Beth Healy reported that Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger ruled Wednesday that MBTA pension funds should be public because the fund receives tens of millions of dollars from the MBTA, which itself receives substantial taxpayer funding.

In February, the Globe reported that the MBTA pension board was “making changes that will require the cash-strapped transit agency and its workers to kick in millions more each year for retirement benefits.” Specifically, the pension board told the MBTA it will lower its expected rate of investment return to 7.75 percent from 8 percent. In that report, MBTA chief administrator Brian Shortsleeve said the pension fund’s long-term liability would rise by $53 million to $868 million, forcing the T to increase its annual contribution to the fund by $8 million to $84 million for the year that starts July 1.

Markopolos, who is widely credited with helping to uncover Bernie Madoff’s financial fraud, was not immediately available to comment.

The MBTA Retirement Fund’s custodian is State Street Bank and its investment consultant is The Marco Consulting Group Inc., according to the FTI report. FTI’s review included interviews with retirement fund executive director Michael Mulhern, deputy executive director John Barry, manager of financial services Catherine McGahan and representatives from Marco.

Jim Evers, treasurer of the Boston Carmen’s Union, Local 589 and chair of the retirement fund board, said in a statement Wednesday, “We have maintained 100 percent confidence in the MBTARF, even in the face of allegations claiming mismanagement. I’m proud to chair this diverse and dedicated board that strives to work on behalf of one common objective – the financial security of members and pension holders of the MBTARF. I’m happy to be able to report that the independent analysis, unanimously approved by the Board, refutes the grossly irresponsible allegations previously made regarding the MBTARF.”

T overtime, unscheduled absences declining

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Many dropped trips due to shortage of workers

Via Commonwealth Magazine

By Bruce Mohl

MBTA OFFICIALS reported on Monday they are having success reducing overtime and unscheduled absences by employees.

Brian Shortsleeve, the T’s chief administrative officer, said the authority is on track to cut overtime expenditures by 25 percent in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. He said overtime averaged $119,000 a day during the first 64 days of 2016, a figure that was 54 percent lower than in the first 64 days last year.

The comparison is a bit misleading because last year the T was struggling to dig out from crippling snowstorms and this year has had almost no snow to deal with. For all of 2015, the daily average overtime expenditure was $154,000.

Shortsleeve said unscheduled absences by T workers are also falling, thanks largely to changes in the way the Family and Medical Leave Act is being administered. He said the T is monitoring FMLA absences more closely and also requiring employees who are out of work under the act to first use earned sick time, contracted sick time, or vacation time until it is gone.

T officials said unscheduled absences by T workers are down across the board so far this year. Officials said bus and train operators missed 9 percent of the days they were eligible to work in the first 64 days of the year due to unscheduled absences, compared to 12.7 percent for all of 2015.

Shortsleeve said unscheduled absences often lead to dropped bus and train trips. With the decline in unscheduled absences, the number of dropped trips is also falling. But the T’s data indicate the cause of lost trips is not simply due to workers failing to show up for work. There is also a sharp difference in causes for bus and rail trips.

Of the 4,658 bus trips dropped so far this year, the data indicate 32 percent of the cancellations were because the T doesn’t have enough workers to cover the routes. The data indicate 19 percent of the trips were dropped because a driver was out sick and 17 percent because the driver was out under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Of the 484 rail trips dropped so far this year, nearly half were caused by some equipment problem and 8 percent were due to a shortage of workers to man the controls. Sickness and FMLA leaves played a minor role as the cause of dropped trips.

Register Now for the 2016 IAM Legislative Conference

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02_23_2016_legislativeconf

Don’t miss your opportunity to have your voice heard on Capitol Hill. The April 1 deadline is fast approaching! Speak on behalf of union workers everywhere and talk to your elected representatives about issues that affect IAM members.

Corporate lobbyists and big-business donors do their best to keep the voices of working people outside the halls of Congress, but that has never stopped IAM members from coming out in droves to lobby on Capitol Hill.

Be a part of the power IAM members will bring to Washington, DC during the IAM Legislative Conference. The conference will take place May 9-12, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Washington, 400 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Click here to download the call letter, hotel reservation form and other important information. April 1 is the deadline to make hotel reservations.

Attendees will lobby members of Congress on the issues that affect IAM members most – trade, defense funding, retirement security, health care costs and much more. Delegates will also hear from allies in Congress and attend a congressional reception hosted by the IAM.

Click here to sign up today.

T board to unveil new online dashboard

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New-MBTA-site-720x459

Via Commonweath Magazine

By Bruce Mohl

THE FIVE MEMBERS of the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board on Monday briefed state lawmakers on their progress, offering a glimpse of a new online dashboard that will chart system performance, promising significant capital investments over the coming years, and warning that the transit agency’s compensation for senior executives “is simply noncompetitive.”

The new dashboard will allow the public to see at any given moment how the transit system is performing. According to the board’s slide presentation to the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, the dashboard will chart ridership, reliability, financials, and customer satisfaction. Board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt said the reliability data will tell riders the historic and real-time performance of every bus and rail line during peak and off-peak periods.

“Every single day we are being held accountable,” said Tibbits-Nutt.

Joseph Aiello, the chair of the Control Board, told lawmakers one of his initial concerns on taking the unpaid position was the lack of a strong leadership team at the T. He said a lot of progress has been made building up the team, with the hiring of a general manager, a chief administrator, a chief operating officer, a chief financial officer, a chief technology officer, and a new head of procurement.

 But Aiello said another 15 to 20 senior leadership positions remain vacant in the maintenance and repair area, which he described as a $500 million-a-year operation. He said filling those vacant positions is proving difficult because compensation at the T “is simply noncompetitive.”

Aiello said the T has hired a consultant to examine the problem and offer recommendations. Right now, Aiello said, someone in a senior leadership position at the T can work several years and then leave to take a job that has half the stress level and yet pays 30 percent to 40 percent more.

Sen. Thomas McGee, the Senate chair of the Transportation Committee, noted the Washington, DC, Metro late last year hired Paul Wiedefeld away from the Baltimore-Washington Airport at an annual salary of $397,500. By contrast, Frank DePaola, the general manager of the T, earns $176,000, and Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve earns $175,000

Board member Lisa Calise outlined many of the steps taken by the T to bring costs under control, and said the transit authority hopes to have $100 million available next year for capital projects. Board member Steve Poftak said a portion of that money will go for upgrades to Green Line signal technology that dates to 1915 and for more winter resiliency improvements on rail lines.

Poftak also said the transit agency hopes to boost capital spending at the T from an average of $389 million a year over the last seven years to $765 million a year. He said the agency has spent $100 million on signal technology over the last five years and wants to spend $220 million a year over the next five years.

Sen. McGee, who also heads the state Democratic Party, said he appreciated the work the Control Board has done. But he said he is hopeful the focus of the discussion will soon shift from reining in costs to determining what the agency can’t do now and needs to do. The senator recalled the reform-before revenue mantra of 2009 and said now is time for reform and revenue.

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