There’s been a lot of discussion of Doug Macdonald’s Crosscut piece that points to abnormally high wage levels among some Metro drivers:
Experienced drivers at the top of the wage scale in 2009 made $28.47 an hour, topping all but two cities on a list of 29 around the country — and including six other systems in Washington state. Nationally, only Boston and San Jose were higher than Metro. New York and San Francisco were lower. Community Transit (Snohomish County), Pierce Transit, Intercity Transit (Thurston County), C-Trans (Clark County), Spokane Transit, and Whatcom Transit (Bellingham) were lower by 8 percent to 25 percent.
Looking solely at the top of the wage scale raises more interesting questions than it answers. Why not average pay? Are Metro’s drivers unusually old? Has the union simply decided to lavishly compensate experienced drivers at the expense of new and part-time ones? And of course, the report doesn’t discuss overtime pay and benefits at all. We’re left with a startlingly incomplete picture of the wage situation. Metro was not able to provide me with the comparative data that would have answered some of these questions.
This blog isn’t about “living wages” or union solidarity or anything like that, and it’s certainly in the interest of transit riders to get as much service as possible for any given amount of revenue. Regardless of how “fair” Metro’s wage structure is, it’s fortuitous for taxpayers and Metro’s customers that the Amalgamated Transit Union’s contract is up on October 31st. Given Metro’s current budget situation, labor will be left with a difficult choice between preserving compensation or preserving jobs. We’re likely to come out with a system with a lower cost of operation.
You can see the report to Metro’s Transit Task Force for yourself here, but some images below the jump highlight the most interesting data.
In related but more boring news that may give ATU some confidence, PubliCola reports that the union won an arbitration case involving furlough pay.