Metro board will not appeal dispute over raises

Metro’s board of directors decided Thursday not to appeal a federal judge’s decision over a dispute to give its employees a pay raise.

A judge ruled last month in favor of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, upholding an arbitrator’s decision awarding employees 3 percent raises for each of the last three years. The union represents more than 10,000 employees.

Metro has set aside money to pay for the increase.

The board met for an hour Thursday to consider whether to appeal the judge’s decision. They said they felt that based on the judge’s opinion they were unlikely to win the appeal, or could get an even less favorable decision.

“When you’ve been in this for three years the question is do you keep fighting or move foward,” said Cathy Hudgins, chair of the board. “We decided to move forward with the likelihood that it could come back with a different opinion or confirming this one. It was with great reluctance.”

She said three years of back wages would cost $96 million, plus $8 million for pensions.

“This is unsustainable,” Tom Bulger, a Metro board member, said after the meeting. “The wage base keeps going up and that impacts pensions. Jurisdictions and riders aren’t going to support this unless you have money from the tooth fairy. Jurisdictions can’t keep kicking in money and we can’t keep raising riders fares.”

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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