Metro union approves its new contract


(Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Metro’s largest union — Local 689 — voted Wednesday in favor of its latest contract that gives employees an 11.4 percent raise over the next four years.

The unofficial vote was roughly 2,700 in favor and 1,000 against, according to a top union official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Jackie Jeter, the union president, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Under the deal, Metro employees will receive an 11.4 percent pay raise over four years. They would receive a 3 percent raise in 2013, a 4 percent pay raise in 2014 and another 4 percent raise in 2015. Employees will also be required to pay into their pension, which is currently fully funded by the transit agency.

The union and Metro’s management agreed on the deal earlier this month after months of negotiations. Local 689 represents roughly 10,000 employees, and its previous contract expired in June 2012.

The contract still must be approved by Metro’s board of directors. They are expected to meet Thursday.

For employees, it is the second time in the last few years that they’ve seen a pay raise — despite Metro management and its board saying they would not support a pay hike in this round of contract negotiations.

Metro’s management has said that rising labor costs is one of its largest expenses. In fiscal 2013, Metro’s pension program was projected to rise 34 percent to $150 million. The rise in pension costs was due in large part to changes in the financial markets that required Metro to put more money into pensions.

In the previous round of contract negotiations, the two sides ended up in a long arbitration. Ultimately, Metro employees received a retroactive pay increase of 9 percent in 3-percent increments for 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Dana Hedgpeth is the Washington Post’s lead reporter in covering the Metro rail and bus systems in the D.C. region and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that runs them.
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Robert Thomson | July 24, 2013