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6/3/2004



Rail News: Labor

Arbitration panel delivers decision on Los Angeles County MTA, ATU health care trust fund



Last November, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA MTA) and about 2,000 mechanics and bus operators represented by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) reached an agreement, ending a 35-day strike. But the contract didn’t settle the union’s health care trust fund, which was negotiated separately during a 90-day non-binding mediation/arbitration period.

Comprising a LA MTA and ATU representative, and retired judge, the arbitration panel recently rendered a decision on the health care funding issues, which will affect 3,000 current and retired ATU members.

Under the ruling, the authority will be required to boost monthly health care subsidies for ATU members and retirees over age 65. The increase would cost LA MTA about $4 million during the contract period, which expires June 30, 2006.

Arbitrators denied an ATU proposal to increase health benefit contributions for retirees under age 65.

LA MTA’s contribution will increase, but the agency’s long-term financial liability — which concerned authority board members during the contract negotiations — will be limited, according to a prepared statement.

The panel also approved changes in the administration of the ATU health care trust fund. LA MTA contributes $1.5 million monthly to the fund and ATU purchases health care coverage for its members. Since November 2002, the authority has provided an additional $8.4 million to ATU to help build up the trust fund’s depleting reserves, LA MTA officials said.

Currently, six trustees oversee the fund — one LA MTA and five union representatives. Now, seven trustees will manage the fund — three ATU and three LA MTA reps, and one outside health care expert.

Both sides have 20 days to reject the panel’s decision by a two-thirds vote or the ruling will become binding.


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