The men and women of Transport Workers Union Local 291 have worked without a contract for more than three years.
Mayor Gimenez, meanwhile, has tried to blame transit workers for the poor Metrorail and MetroBus service that Miami-Dade residents have been getting.
Today, TWU Local 291 is fighting back with a series of demands for the mayor, starting with the demand that he stop denigrating the blue-collar workforce.
“The mayor should stop trying to blame transit workers for the shabby service,” Local 291 President Clarence Washington said. “It’s quite clear that he is trying to distract people from the fact that he has failed to provide good management, adequate transit funding and reliable equipment. He has simply failed to improve mass transit, and that has caused more and more people to drive. A horrendous traffic situation has gotten even worse because Metrorail and MetroBus are not viable options for too many people.”
Local 291’s Five Demands for Mayor Gimenez:
Stop Blaming the Workers
Transit workers want to get Miami-Dade residents and workers to their destinations safely and as quickly as possible. But they have been saddled far too long with railcars and buses that are old and falling apart, and require constant repairs.
The Metrorail fleet, for example, is more than 33 years old. The mayor said the first new railcars would arrive in 2015 and the entire fleet would be replaced by 2017. The first cars were only recently placed into service and the entire fleet won’t be replaced until sometime next year.
The mayor has talked for years about buying 300 new buses but so far only a handful have arrived.
Transit workers have been working without a contract since the fall of 2014. Wages have been frozen while the cost of living has increased. Agreements have been reached with nearly all the other county unions and the mayor should be able to strike a deal with Local 291 if he bargains in good faith.
Withdraw the Request for a $170,000 Raise
The mayor’s attempt to obtain a personal raise – from $154,000 to as much as $324,000 – is outrageous and obscene. The mayor, who is a former fire chief and Miami administrator, already is receiving a public pension of about $134,000 a year. If the mayor wants a raise, it should be much more modest, and it shouldn’t come before his blue-collar workforce receives one.
Stop the Privatization of Bus Service
Miami-Dade residents need good jobs with solid benefits on which they support their families. Creating bus operator jobs with poverty wages confines Miami-Dade residents to lifetimes of economic struggle and despair. Privatization only benefits the owners of for-profit corporations with the political connections everyday Miami-Dade residents don’t enjoy. Limousines of South Florida, which was awarded 14 bus routes last year, is part of a conglomerate that gave generously to the mayor’s political campaign in recent years.
Invest in Mass Transit Operations
Miami-Dade needs more bus and rail service, not less.
Ridership is declining and traffic has gotten worse in part because trains and buses run too infrequently. Slashing service has made mass transit an even less viable option for Miami-Dade residents and has caused more people to drive.
Contact: Pete Donohue, TWU Communications, 917-796-8176 and firstname.lastname@example.org