MBTA, ATU Local 589 agree to four-year contract

Aug. 3, 2023
The agreement is part of increased efforts by the Healey-Driscoll Administration to ensure the MBTA retains experienced and trained frontline workers, with the goal of shoring up MBTA workforce numbers and ensuring the availability of quality service.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 589 have agreed to a four-year contract that seeks to bolster MBTA frontline workforce numbers, including bus and train operators.

The agreement, subject to MBTA Board approval, is part of increased efforts by the Healey-Driscoll Administration to ensure the authority retains experienced and trained frontline workers, with the larger goal of shoring up MBTA workforce numbers and ensuring the availability of quality service for all riders. 

The four-year agreement includes overall wage increases and longevity bonuses (with increases at 10, 15, 20 and 25 years) to help retain frontline workers, as well as select targeted increases aimed at hard-to-fill positions such as welders and overnight shifts. The deal also sets a framework to improve employee restroom access, expand bereavement leave to include domestic partners and clarify language around assaults against transit workers, an increasing problem for members. 

Additionally, the contract memorializes a range of recruitment incentives, including signing bonuses, such as those previously offered by the MBTA. The new contract follows a prior side letter that allows bus operators to be hired full-time rather than part-time. 

The union has praised the approach of the new administration in its efforts to listen to frontline workers and put a strong focus on improving the MBTA after prior years of workforce cuts, failed privatization schemes and austerity budgeting measures that helped lead to the current frontline workforce shortages. 

"This contract agreement is an important investment in public transit in Massachusetts. It represents a strong partnership between our administration, the MBTA and the Carmen's Union and a shared understanding that the success of the MBTA relies on a strong and growing workforce,” said Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey. “This new contract will help attract and retain more workers in this desirable profession that offers good pay and benefits, advancement opportunities and the chance to be a part of the solution that keeps our transit system moving forward." 

“This is a positive outcome for both MBTA workers and the riders we proudly serve every day,” said Jim Evers, Boston Carmen’s ATU Local 589 president. “With this strong agreement, the MBTA can attract even more of the frontline workers that the system needs to succeed. Thanks to the engagement of Local 589 members, strong support from our community allies along with Gov. Healey, Secretary [Gina] Fiandaca and General Manager [Phillip] Eng, we have achieved an agreement that supports the retention of workers and we believe will attract more workers to careers in frontline public transit that provide a pathway to the middle class.”     

Key provisions of the new ATU Local 589 contract include:

  • A four-year contract that is effective July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2027.
  • An approximate 18 percent wage adjustment over four years, averaging approximately 4.5 percent per year.
  • Longevity bonuses at 10, 15, 20 and 25 years.
  • One-time bonus for eligible retirees to defer retirement to 2024.
  • Parental leave improvements.
  • Health benefit improvements.
  • Signing bonus eligibility now expanded to all job categorizations.

“This agreement with [ATU] Local 589 is a pivotal moment for the MBTA,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “This demonstrates to our workforce, both current and future employees, how important they are to us and the service we provide. Working for the MBTA is about improving lives, connecting people and communities. This contract greatly enhances our ability to attract new hires in key areas like bus operators by establishing a wage that is competitive with private industry. As we continue our aggressive efforts to hire and retain staff, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership, to the work of the MBTA’s Labor team for their contributions to this agreement, to Local 589 Carmen’s Union for their partnership and to all the authority's employees for their dedication and hard work.”