Video Feature – Neil McFarlane Interview – Part 3

Here is the next segment in our interview with TriMet’s new General Manager, Neil McFarlane.

This time, we discuss TriMet’s health care obligations, the financial future of LIFT Service, and whether and how to replace the current fare system.

The complete list and schedule, after the break:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Part 1:
Introduction, Safety and Priorities
Part 2:
Funding, Capital Projects and Budget Concerns
Part 3:
Health Care, LIFT Service and the Fare System
Part 4:
Mode Choice, Technology and Rider Involvement
Part 5:
Future Planning, The Big Picture, and…

14 Responses to Video Feature – Neil McFarlane Interview – Part 3

  1. Steve S.
    July 21, 2010 at 9:39 am Link

    Neil was sitting along side Fred in the May TriMet Boad meeting when Fred Hansen told the board they have an “Other Post Employment Benefits” liability of some 700 million and they are not contributing anything to it. It is off budget and an amortized calculation to fund it would take $50 million per year.

    TriMet continues to push this liability off into the future.

    McFarland said they are not in a race to the bottom for compensation packages? Is that all it takes to dispense with how TriMet will address the high cost and how they will ever pay for it?

    On TriMet’s “Strategy going forward”? Is there one?

    As far as I know TriMet has no strategy or business plan. Being optimistic is not a plan.

    With the fare structure he says they don’t know how things are going to work out.

    Isn’t that their position on their entire operation?

    I think this video interviewing is excellent work but it falls short on providng answers to some very critical matters.

    Most of which comes down to the unavoidable consequences of many sky high comittments without the funding to pay for them.

    How can this approach be so acceptable by so many involved?

    It’s not a matter of routine challenges that all governments and busninesses face.
    This isn’t a scenario where “there’s always room for improvement” rhetoric will suffice.

    So what is next? Keep moving in the same direction because there are no leaders who will suggest otherwise?

  2. al m
    July 21, 2010 at 10:28 am Link

    The contract has gone to the arbitrator.

    The company gave no ground on its position on our health care, and if that goes through then all of us working here will see major pay cuts. That is going from a small co pay to a 20% aggregate.

    Any employee who is on medications (from the criminal pharmaceutical companies) or undergoing any ongoing treatments will now be responsible for paying 20% of the total cost. What we are talking about here is a huge expense for employees who are engaged in a profession that has been documented as a killer to our bodies!
    (We will leave the mind part out of this equation)

    This is what the people who sit behind desks and talk for a living get. The two types of positions are not similar. AC Transit employees recently got hammered by a similar situation. Their system has basically collapsed at this point because nobody is showing up for work.

    They want to save money by screwing the employees, and we say HELL NO WE WON’T GO!

    It’s up to the arbitrator now, they have to decide, the company proposal or the unions “status quo” proposal. The negotiations are over.

    Trimet is too big, and getting bigger as we speak.

    It’s unsustainable at its current rate of growth.

    And all you right wingers out there that have such a problem with actual American’s getting any sort of tax funding to stay alive in this wonderful country of ours, you can start talking about our benefits when you get our wonderful government to stop funding useless CRAP like wars, foreign aid, corporate bailouts and the like.

    Dave does an impressive job as the interviewer and I am still impressed with Neil’s “likability”.

    Who really knows how much power he actually has to change anything around here.

    Ross Racer yesterday brought up a point that I thought was brilliant.

    “I can deal with most of the stupidity around here, its the institutional stupidity that I have a problem with.”

    Neil is dealing with a giant institutionalized behemoth, who knows what he can really do about anything.

    Good luck to him, at least he seems real, it doesn’t look like an act to me at least.

    He’s communicating, he is not sending out some sock puppet to do it for him.

    What else can you really expect from somebody in charge?

    I like this guy!

  3. Bob R.
    July 21, 2010 at 11:11 am Link

    Oh, and a belated shout-out to Joseph Rose of the Oregonian who has dubbed PortlandTransport the “Transpo C-SPAN of Portland”.

  4. Steve S.
    July 21, 2010 at 11:51 am Link

    I’m with you on “Trimet is too big, and getting bigger as we speak. It’s unsustainable”
    But management is responsible. Starting at the top. Neil is following Fred’s approach and it is irresponsible to say the least.

    As for the idea that any adjustments to the compensation package would be “screwing the employees” I have troubling seeing that.
    The current benefits package is 115% of
    payroll. At the top or near the top of any transit agency in the country. And it’s not funded.
    Are you claiming that if it were 100% of payroll and still among the highest that would be screwing the employees?
    Moreover where do you advise TriMet get the funding to maintain the status quo payroll/benefits costs?
    By cutting more bus service?
    Would any concession be a race to the bottom?
    Neil is steadfast in pushing forward with capital projects and commitments they cannot afford.
    His communication is not providing any plan to afford either the current situation or the future at any time.
    It’s a bummer for to face compensation cuts but that exactly what this agency has created.
    Now they are doing it beyond their own institution by robbing other government services which will are forced to make similar cuts.
    Everyone looking at this scenario honestly has to agree that the only answer is to stop the capital projects, starting NOW with Milwaukie Light Rail.

  5. Bob R.
    July 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm Link

    TriMet has issued a press release:

    TriMet & Union declare impasse in contract negotiations

  6. EngineerScotty
    July 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm Link

    Could a strike/lockout occur, or does the presence of a binding arbitration essentially prevent that?

  7. al m
    July 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm Link

    Binding arbitration means that’s everybody is stuck with the arbitrators decision.

    They will either take the companies side or the unions side.


    Nah, but maybe a hell of a lot of sick drivers like AC TRANSIT!

  8. al m
    July 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm Link

    Steve S;

    Put me on the side of the Greeks, I for one would rather die on my feet than live on my knees!

    We know the reality of this mess “we” are in, we know who created it and who stands to benefit from the working class getting shafted.

    “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” (B Franklin)

  9. al m
    July 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm Link

    BTW Bob,
    where is the official document of the companies proposal?

    I can’t find it, can you?

  10. AL M
    July 21, 2010 at 11:14 pm Link

    Seven days after an impasse is declared (July 20), each party submits its “Final Offer”, including any proposed contract language and each party’s cost summary related to issues where the parties have failed to reach agreement. ERB makes the Final Offers public.

    It says clearly there that the final offers are made public! Somebody must know where this information is!

  11. Jason Barbour
    July 22, 2010 at 5:52 am Link

    It says clearly there that the final offers are made public! Somebody must know where this information is!
    I poured over the Employment Relations Board site, didn’t see it posted.

    It may be one of those things where “public” doesn’t equal “posted online.”

    IIRC, the 2005 transit strike in New York City was against state law and bargaining rules, but happened anyway. Even Howard Stern couldn’t stop it, just delay it.

  12. Just Saying
    July 22, 2010 at 8:47 am Link

    The impasse was declared on the 20th wasn’t it? That means the final offers aren’t due until the 27th.

  13. Other J
    July 22, 2010 at 9:53 am Link

    One of the TriMet bloggers posted the pdf of the final offers from both sides:

    Basically it looks like the Union wants to keep things the same and TriMet made a bunch of changes to the existing contract. Most of the notable changes are about the benefits provided to retired union members and their families, depending on when they were hired.

  14. al m
    July 22, 2010 at 11:05 am Link

    Here is what I posted to max faqs about this final offer:

    Can somebody please tell me what the PUCK it says?
    I can’t read it!
    It’s telling indeed that the unions proposal is so clear and concise but the company’s is obscured and apparently intentionally made impossible to read!

    How are we supposed to take Mr Macfarlane seriously when this is the way our company does business?

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