Regarding the Jan. 15 editorial “Why Metro’s fares are headed up”:
The 9 percent wage increase cited in the editorial was over four years, not three. If you take into account cost-shifting on health insurance benefits, it comes out to a 1.76 percent increase per year, as the judge in federal court pointed out in his decision to enforce the arbitration award, which Metro fought.
Metro’s pension is non-contributory because in 1983 the transit workers’ union took a one-year wage freeze so that Metro would pick up the total cost of the fund. Metro’s costs went down each year until they reached zero in 1997. From 1997 until 2006, Metro made no contributions to the fund, relying on the stock market to fund pensions.
In the 2004 contract, the union agreed to a small increase of wages, so that Metro would again contribute to the fund. The wage freeze in 1983 and the small wage increase in 2004 were the workers’ contribution to the fund. Every change in pensions over the past 30 years has been negotiated between the union and Metro, not decided by an arbitrator.
When I was union president, the pension actuary did a study of the cost of workers deciding to work overtime at the end of their careers to enhance their pensions. It was found to be negligible. Employees who work a lot of overtime do it for their whole career, not just at the end.
Metro’s financial problems are caused by the federal and local governments and by businesses that receive services from Metro but do not pay their fair share of the operating costs.
Michael Golash, Washington
The writer was president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 from 2004 to 2006.