At rally, union workers resist MBTA privatization

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BOSTON — Concerned that the Baker administration’s effort to privatize some MBTA services could cost workers their jobs, union members gathered in protest on Wednesday, vowing to continue to call attention to the issue.

Wearing matching orange shirts, nearly 80 members of Boston Carmen’s Union 589 turned out for the protest near their Devonshire Street headquarters. Aimee Daluz, an MBTA customer service worker, was among those passing out flyers.

“We are the face of the MBTA. If I lose my job or I have to take a pay cut because they’re going to hire an outside company to come in and do a job I’ve been doing for thirteen years, who is that fair to? That’s not fair,” Daluz said to the News Service .

In July, the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Baker agreed to an MBTA reform that suspends for three years the law imposing controls on privatizing public services, a change supporters hope will improve operations and potentially help the T to better control spending.

[Photos: Anti-Privatization Rally]

On Sept. 9, MBTA officials sketched out a growing deficit within its transit system that would balloon to $427 million in four years, as expenses far outpace growth in ridership and revenue.

Union members carried signs Wednesday reading “MBTA Privatization = A Baker Scam” and “Stop the Lies,” while union leaders fired up the crowd by chanting “tell me what’s disgusting,” with protesters replying, “union busting.”

Gov. Baker, who is in the midst of plans to revamp operations at the T after disastrous service last winter, said he will not move forward with plans to privatize certain MBTA bus routes if it doesn’t generate savings and efficiencies.

“We were glad to hear that but like he said – it’s not a done deal doesn’t mean it’s the end,” said James O’Brien, president and business agent for the union. O’Brien says the union will hold future rallies.

The administration said it does not intend to lay off workers, but instead reassign them to other routes.

The protests came ahead of Baker’s planned visit to an MBTA staging facility in Dorchester to review and discuss progress being made in ongoing winter resilience efforts.

— Written by Antonio Caban

Copyright State House News Service