First, they want to scrap our retirement plan altogether. Since management is reported to have avoided funding the pension for decades, the obligation is too high to ever fulfill. They replaced it with a 401k option a few years back, but now they're balking at paying for that too. It might cause more financial difficulty, and this would evidently interfere with building the Brown Line from Gladstone to Oregon City.
To alleviate their financial woes, they now intend to scrap all pensions in favor of the Fools' Upward Creative Karma Initiative Tomorrow (FUCKIT) plan. Included with our paychecks would be three Scratch-It and two Powerball lottery tickets. Given the strong possibility of a future stock market crash, management is touting this new plan as safer and more easily funded. With its attack on retirement benefits, our chances of winning a lottery seem congruent with the possibility we'll be financially stable in retirement.
Second, all insurance plans will be replaced by a single octogenarian nurse (with a dirty sock fetish) at each garage. Their office hours will be from 3:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. An operator marking off for the day must have a valid excuse from the nurse or risk termination. Anything more than a scratch or slight sniffle will no longer be covered. Everything else will be considered a pre-existing condition. No further workman's comp claims will be paid, as they believe any injuries suffered on the job are our own damn fault. Safety is after all, "our core value." Getting sick is no excuse for time loss.
Traditionally, if we are one second late to work, we lose our pay for the day. So they've decided that any time we're even one second late or two seconds early at any point on our routes, our pay will be cut in half for that shift. This is to ensure our passengers get the best service no fare payment can buy. These funds will automatically be added to the GM's retirement bonus.
If a state arbitrator approves the agency's "last best offer," all union activity will be strictly prohibited. All new hires will be required to sign a letter promising to trust the agency to provide the best possible terms of employment. There will be no promises made so none have to be kept. Our jobs will be to drive a bus or light rail vehicle until the coroner pronounces us no longer of this world.
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It sounds a bit far-fetched to you? Of course. Management would never do anything this extreme. Would it? Each contract negotiation, its demands approach ridiculousness. It's a vicious time in the media, during which we're denigrated as greedy monkeys demanding far more than we deserve. It chips away at promises one at a time. For instance, our retirees were promised long ago that in lieu of regular raises, they'd get free healthcare the rest of their lives. Pretty expensive, indeed. Considering the years of being pounded up and down and all around in an unforgiving operator's seat, their bodies were all used up by the end of a career. Their service was more valuable "back in the day" than it is now. Transit operators commanded more respect in decades past. In addition, they were promised a pension of x-amount of dollars per month multiplied by the years they served. We found out a few years ago that the agency hadn't fully-funded this pension. Instead of heads rolling after a full investigation of these shenanigans, we heard excuses. The blame shifted to our supposed "greed" while management found a secret way to increase non-union salaries. To add further insult to injury, retirees were suddenly charged a percentage of their insurance premiums... another promise broken. Considering the pension amounts have remain relatively unchanged for decades, many retirees faced financial ruin when the agency was permitted this grievous sin.
So I ask again... given what has happened in the past, is this truly an unbelievable scenario? I believe it could, in some altered state, become our future reality. Unions don't seem to have the respect and power we had while building the incredible superstructure and ferocious military might that gave us superpower status in the last century.
It is up to US to rise up and fight this battle on the vanishing middle class. We do the work, the uppity uppers collect the gold. We've now seen a billionaire gain the White House, who seems hell-bent on the continued upward redistribution of wealth rather than horizontally across the mid-section of our great country. It is up to each hard-working person to rise with our brothers and sisters against this gradual weakening of the masses who made this country "great" to begin with. If we don't win this war, there will be no more crumbs for us to fight over. Chaos will reign, the rich will only become more so, and we'll have nobody but our apathetically pathetic selves to blame. With numbers come strength; division breeds apathy and consensual weakness.
I don't need to be rich, only to be rewarded sufficiently for a lifetime of brutally-hard work just to survive. Help me, raise yourselves, lift us all.