July 29, 2013

The Post’s coverage of Metro’s new four-year employee contract [“Metro board approves 11.4% raise for union,” Metro, July 26] did not note several important points. The contract is the product of a year-long effort to reach an agreement between labor and management and, unlike prior contracts, was not imposed by an outside arbiter with no stake in the long-term effects of his or her decisions.

The net effect of the agreement is a 1.85 percent annual average increase for Metro employees. This is the direct result of Local 689’s agreement to have employees begin to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions.

Those pension contributions, combined with other provisions, enable Metro to avoid $44 million in costs over the contract term while reducing liabilities. It is also important to note that the first two years of the agreement are being funded with cost savings and efficiencies identified by Metro’s management.

The goodwill between labor and management also resulted in safety and productivity improvements in this contract that benefit Metro’s customers. For example, the contract reverses a prior agreement provision so that the newest employees will no longer be the ones addressing the most critical equipment failures. Also, random drug testing is being expanded to include escalator mechanics and station managers.

The Metro board’s unanimous endorsement of this agreement reflects its satisfaction with what this contract accomplishes.

Tom Downs, Washington

The writer is chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.