Fact Check: Four-Day Operator and Packaging Pilot Program

Four-Day Operator & Packaging Pilot Program

The Four-Day Operator and Packaging Program Memorandum of Agreement (Packaging MOA) has resulted in improved safety, better work schedules and work/life balance for bus operators since it was signed by the ATU bargaining team and TriMet management in August 2014.

See the benefits and facts about the program below.

The impetus behind creating the Four-Day Operator and Packaging Pilot Program Memorandum of Agreement, also known as the Packaging Program MOA, was to address negative effects of the Hours of Service policy that the ATU and TriMet negotiated and which took effect in February 2013. The ATU refers to this as the “block run” program. The Packaging Program MOA solved the issue of operators’ schedules being made more difficult by sometimes requiring them to move to other garages to sign a full week of Hours of Service compliant work, or resulting in the need for them to work a day or more on the extra board in order to complete their weekly schedules. The Packaging Program improves bus operator assignments to provide adequate rest time; it provides them the ability for operators to sign Hours of Service compliant work at their preferred garages; and it provides predictable work assignments and better work/life balance.

Representatives from the District and the ATU met for more than a year as the parties worked together to create the agreement that was signed by the entire ATU bargaining team and TriMet management in August 2014. The results of the Packaging Program MOA include:

  • Reduced split shifts for full-time Bus Operators (from 131 to 39) and provided more straight runs
  • Nearly eliminated all split shifts on weekends for full-time Bus Operators (from 50 to 0 on Saturdays and from 28 to 1 on Sundays)
  • Created new four-day schedules (4 x 10) for both Full-Time and Part-Time Bus Operators
  • Reduced the overall span of hours for split shifts, from a maximum of 14 hours to a maximum of 13 hours

The Packaging Program MOA was negotiated by a Joint Labor Management Team “to make Bus Operator assignments better and to provide adequate rest time between assignments.” It builds upon an earlier program from 2007 that created a 3-Day Part-Time and 4-Day Full-Time schedule that was agreed to by then-ATU President, and current Vice President, Jon Hunt, put in place without a vote of the entire membership.

At the request of the ATU by letter dated March 10, 2016, the ATU has given notice of its decision to cancel the Four-Day Operator and Packaging Program Memorandum of Agreement (Packaging MOA) after the Summer Sign-up.

With the ATU exercising its right to cancel the packaging program, 4 x 10 shifts for Full Time Operators and 4 x 7.5 shifts for part-time operators will end. The ATU’s decision to end the pilot program also has created additional consequences for operators. The decision to end all packaging of work means that the popular pilot program of 3 x 10 shifts for part-time operators also must end because that program relies upon packaging in order to assign work that is compliant with the new hours of service provisions in the labor contract.


The ATU calls the packaging pilot program "ill-advised."


False. In an April 1, 2016 letter TriMet stated that cancellation “is harmful to maintaining and improving the quality of work-life balance of Operators...

Ending the program includes increasing the number of split shifts, reducing the number of straight shifts, and Full-Time Operators will have fewer weekends off. The issue of its implementation has already been addressed.

With the end of packaging work schedules, it requires TriMet to end the 3 x 10 packaging of work for part-time operators. This means all Part-Time operators will have to work five day work weeks.

The bottom line is that the packaging programs helped increase the quality of life for operators and provided more predictable schedules and choices. TriMet developed a flyer to inform operators of the upcoming changes.


The new ATU leadership wants to end the Packaging MOA, what it calls “block runs.” The ATU claims in a March 18, 2016 letter that TriMet refuses to cancel the program.


False. In a July 7, 2015 letter, newly elected ATU President Shirley Block called for an immediate end to the program. However, the Packaging MOA requires that the pilot program be in effect for a year before it can be revoked, which meant it is in effect until the end of the Fall 2015 Service signup (November 2015). Watch Randy Stedman, TriMet’s executive director of Labor Relations and Human Resources, set the record straight on this issue at the March 23, 2016 board of directors meeting.

The ATU did not object to the Packaging Pilot program and it remained in place for the Winter 2015 Service signup.

President Block attended a Nov. 2, 2015 labor-management meeting where improvements were made and the parties agreed to extend the Packaging Pilot for Spring 2016. Ms. Block also reviewed in advance a communication to bus operators on those improvements.


The ATU claims that the Packaging Pilot was to end after the Spring 2016 signup.


False. Either party can terminate the MOA for the next feasible signup period. However, the ATU did not give notice to TriMet of its desire to cancel the Packaging MOA program in accordance with the Packaging MOA until March 10, 2016. By that time, it was too late to return to cafeteria-style signups for Summer 2016 signup. As TriMet bus schedules are developed months in advance, Fall 2016 signup is the earliest opportunity to eliminate packaged work.



Negative impacts of ending the Packaging MOA program

The impact of discontinuing all but the five-day work week options for Full-Time and Part-Time Operators would mean more split shifts, later shifts and fewer weekends off. A preliminary estimate is that:

  • Weekday Full-Time split shifts would increase from 32 to more than 110 (11 of the current 32 are on four-day duties, 21 on five-day duties)
  • Saturday Full-Time split shifts would increase from 0 to about 40
  • Sunday Full-Time split shifts would increase from 1 to more than 30
  • Weekday Full-Time straight runs that end by 4:30 p.m. would decrease from 236 to about 170
  • Full-Time Operators with weekends off would decrease from 270 to about 200 (not including extraboard)


The ATU continues to make the same claim – that the Packaging Program MOA was not valid because it was not ratified by the members.


False. TriMet has a long history with the ATU of mid-term agreements signed only by the President and/or small bargaining team without a vote membership. The enforceability of such agreements was upheld in UP-055-05 by the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB).


The ATU claims that our actions are anti-union and negatively impact our operators.


False. This program is of tremendous benefit to hundreds of bus operators, providing better schedules and more life/work balance. TriMet remains open to additional labor-management meetings to discuss ways to further improve the Packaging Program.


ATU President Shirley Block claims in letters dated July 7, 2015, Feb. 10, 2016 and March 10, 2016, that while the parties can meet to discuss options for changes to the sign-up, any new agreement reached would have to be voted on or approved by the membership.


False. Contrary to the position taken by President Block beginning with her letter dated July 7, 2015 about the Packaging MOA to which we responded the next day, there is nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that requires that supplemental agreements be submitted to a vote of the membership. Additionally, the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB), in UP-55-05 in a 2008 decision, upheld that not all negotiated agreements between TriMet and the ATU must be submitted to ATU membership for ratification. The ATU makes this same false claim in the recent Meal and Break Period Fact Check.


Ms. Block further claimed in a related letter dated July 7, 2015, that the pilot program was the subject of an unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint pending before the ERB.


False. The assertion was in reference to FR-001-15. However, the charge was filed by Ms. Block against the ATU; TriMet was not a party to the case. The ERB dismissed the complaint.


In her Feb. 10, 2016 letter to ATU members, ATU President Block again states that the agreement is not valid because there was no member ratification and goes on to say that TriMet was ending the block run program effective for the Summer signup.


False. Based upon UP-055-05, there is no legal support for the ATU to repudiate the Packaging Program MOA on the basis of member ratification. Furthermore, ATU President Block waited until March 10, 2016, to notify TriMet of her position, by which time Summer schedule runs were already completed. This was an effort to stir up controversy rather than helping ATU members.

The Packaging Program MOA was negotiated and agreed to two months before the parties ratified the 2012-2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement and duly signed by all members of the respective bargaining teams. There is a long history of mid-term supplemental agreements that always include the signature of the current President. The original 2007 agreement was signed by then-President and now current Vice President Jon Hunt.

There have been numerous labor/management meetings related to this matter since it was signed in 2014, including the most recent one in November 2015, which President Block attended. Because the Packaging Program MOA was validly entered into, the ATU cannot now condition additional changes upon a vote of the membership.


In both the Feb. and March 2016 letters, ATU claims that, "This will affect all Bus Operators, Controllers, Rail and Road Supervisors..."


False. By its terms, the Packaging Program MOA only affects Bus Operators, and does not include Controllers, or Rail and Road Supervisors.

Either party can terminate the MOA for the next feasible signup period. However, as TriMet bus schedules are developed about four months in advance, the soonest a change in schedules could take effect is Fall 2016.

TriMet remains open to hold labor-management meetings to discuss further improvements to the program. Joint labor managements meetings have resulted in a number of improvements since signing the 2014 agreement.


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