Massachusetts Local 264 Bus Mechanics Win Historic Privatization Fight

A long, difficult fight for the Machinists of IAM Local 264 ended in a victory for the working families of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the communities they serve.

On Sunday, Local 264 voted overwhelmingly to accept a new four-year deal that not only protects current work to provide maintenance, but also maintains a minimum fleet size. The new accord features wage increases in three of the four years, while increasing the length of paid bereavement leave for members. Negotiators also maintained the current defined-benefit pension plan and retiree health care benefits.

For the better part of two years, the Machinists, along with labor and political allies, have been beating back an attack to privatize MBTA bus maintenance to for-profit, out-of-state companies.

“This was a tremendous team effort, and I don’t use the term ‘team’ lightly,” said District 15 Assistant Directing Business Representative Mike Vartabedian. “This started with Local 264 members and their families standing together from the beginning. The support from Local 264, Directing Business Representative Dominic Taibbi, and District 15, the Headquarters Communications Staff, International President Martinez, General Vice President Conigliaro and the Eastern Territory Staff assigned to assist this effort made the difference. Through all of the long days and nights, Grand Lodge Representative Craig Hughes, Local 264 President Jim Mastandrea and I are proud to have worked side by side with this team to not only achieve our goal, but to produce a win that our members can be proud of and that protects the future for them and their families.”

“Our members showed the entire labor movement what’s possible when we stand together,” said Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. “We used every resource possible to protect these jobs, and I’m so happy that the hard work has paid off for these families. This is nothing short of a huge victory.”

Despite state politicians’ repeated failures to reinvest in maintenance garage infrastructure, nearly 450 mechanics, fuelers and other skilled professionals in IAM Local 264 ranked as the No. 1 bus maintenance workforce in the U.S. for miles between breakdowns. As Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker pushed for privatization, the Machinists offered $29 million in savings to the state.

It was this ideology that not only protracted the process, but inspired Local 264 to negotiate “triggers” in the new deal to protect the work—and workers against unnecessary future outsourcing.

“Our Sisters and Brothers at Local 264 exemplify what it means to be a ‘Fighting Machinist,’” said International President Bob Martinez. “I’m so proud of our members and the leadership in the Eastern Territory for standing strong and winning a massive victory for working families and public transit riders in Massachusetts.”

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