Metro Union Fears Layoffs; Part-Time Drivers Would Bear Brunt

By Erica C. Barnett July 1, 2010

An official with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, the union that represents Metro bus drivers, suggests in this month's union newsletter that Metro workers should prepare themselves for potential layoffs.

Blaming the fact that the King County Council hired new part-time operators at a time when Metro faces record budget deficits, the ATU's recording secretary, Brian Sherlock, wrote, "The reality is that without new hiring, retirements, resignations, and other attrition would balance theĀ  budget without layoffs. However, the Council stuck their heads in the sand, hoping to avoid the wrath
of constituents who demand theĀ  transportation which drives the economic engine of our region. ... They chose to destroy hundreds of careers in the process."

King County Metro spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok says Metro has been hiring part-time drivers to keep up with attrition, but adds that the 170 or so drivers the agency has hired this year is "less than most years" because fewer people leave during a recession.

Ogershok says "there are no current plans for any layoffs," and notes that Metro is currently in the second year of its biennial budget. However, given that Metro's Regional Transit Task Force is currently unveiling doomsday scenarios in which 400,000 service hours would be cut (more on that in a separate post), it's hard to imagine that anything, even union jobs, will be sacrosanct.

That said, part-time drivers in particular will take the brunt of any layoffs. That's because drivers' union contract explicitly says that "In the event of a layoff, all Part-Time Transit Operators shall be laid off prior to the layoff of any Full-Time Transit Operator."
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