Boston.com | By Adam Vaccaro
September 12, 2016
Several hundred MBTA workers took to the streets on Monday to protest the transit agency’s plan to privatize parts of its operations.
The picket, which was the first of several planned rallies, was organized by the MBTA’s largest labor union. Carrying orange signs that read “Keep Transportation Public!”, the workers demonstrated prior to public meetings of the boards that oversee the T and the state’s transportation department in downtown Boston.
Jim O’Brien, the president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, which represents more than 4,000 T workers, said “a few hundred” workers turned out. Union members also crowded the meeting room, with several speaking out against privatization plans during a public comment period. Privatization was not on the agenda for Monday’s meeting.
Amid union opposition, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker last year pushed for a three-year reprieve for the MBTA from a labor-supported state law that requires public agencies to undergo a complex auditing process before issuing contracts to private companies for work done by public employees. The push came as part of an agency reform effort spurred by the crippling effect the snowfall of 2015 had on the T’s aging infrastructure.
In pushing for the reprieve, the Baker administration argued the law essentially roadblocks efforts to save money by outsourcing. The union says the law is meant to ensure any outsourcing is done efficiently and ultimately results in savings.