Archive | Paratransit/LIFT

UPDATED: LIFT service affected by transit strike

UPDATE: KOIN reports that a tentative deal has been reached. Terms of the deal have not been released pending ratification.

Original message content after the jump.

Now things get interesting.

While we’ve been focused on the labor dispute between TriMet operators and ATU757, another dispute has been brewing: between ATU 757 and First Transit, the outsourcing firm that TriMet uses to provide lift service.

And now ATU757 is striking First Transit, and LIFT service is being impacted. TriMet’s statement is here, a statement by ATU 757 president Jonathan Hunt is (courtesy of Al) here. Until the dispute is resolved, only “life-sustaining trips” will be provided.

A few obvious questions:

  • ATU 757 has long been arguing that TriMet should take LIFT back in-house, rather than outsourcing its operations. Apparently, by outsourcing LIFT operators, they are no longer covered by the state’s law treating transit workers as essential, and thus requiring binding arbitration instead of strikes/lockouts to resolve labor disputes. (And conversely, were they to be brought back in-house, they would be covered under the law).
  • Provision of paratransit is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Does the ADA make exemptions for labor disputes, or could TriMet find itself in legal trouble for not providing the service, regardless of the reason?
  • How involved TriMet is in the negotiations (which are ostensibly between First Transit and the union, not TriMet and the union) is another question.
  • Paratransit is, of course, a big money-loser for TriMet (and other transit agencies), and is an unfunded mandate. Unless legal or political pressure is brought to bear, I could imagine that TriMet might be in no hurry to settle this dispute at all. (Speaking from a public policy perspective, and regardless of this dispute, I think it would be beneficial if paratransit services had their own funding source(s) apart from ordinary transit. A question to consider–why shouldn’t paratransit services be paid for by states, cities, and/or counties directly, if not by Uncle Sam, rather than by transit agencies?)