NLRB Settlement ... Cap Metro Politics

Union President Wyatt says it's a vindication of workers' rights

Jay Wyatt
Jay Wyatt (Photo by John Anderson)
Mike Martinez
Mike Martinez (Photo by John Anderson)

Last week Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091, which represents Capital Metro drivers and mechanics, announced a settlement of the National Labor Relations Board action against Travis Transit Man­age­ment Inc., subcontractor of McDonald Transit Associates, CapMetro's fixed-route management contractor. The union had filed an unfair labor practices complaint against TTMI, which assumed management in 2012, charging that TTMI unilaterally increased employee health care costs, cut retirement benefits, imposed a no-strike rule, and refused to hire Local 1091 President Jay Wyatt because of his union activities. The NLRB's action initially sought $1.3 million in damages; under the settlement, TTMI will pay designated workers $665,000 in damages, and will publicly post notices at the workplace guaranteeing no further illegal actions and informing workers of their rights to organize. In a press release, Wyatt thanked the NLRB and called the settlement a vindication of workers' rights and "a major victory for TTMI employees."

In an email to the Chronicle, Wyatt also took the opportunity to take a shot at Cap Metro board chair Mike Martinez: "This contractor was hired by our good friend Mike Martinez, who is saying [in his mayoral campaign] that he's looking out for the middle class." When asked if it isn't Cap Metro management, not the board, that hires contractors, Wyatt responded, "Not directly but behind the scenes, yes." The ongoing argument between Wyatt and Martinez is as much a "quasi-state agency" institutional one as it is personal. Under state law, Cap Metro employees do not have full union rights (e.g., no right to strike), but since the agency receives federal funding, federal law guarantees full union rights – requiring the hybrid arrangement through which unionized employees are technically employed by subcontractors and thereby retain the right to strike. Wyatt blames Martinez and the board for indirectly imposing substandard employee contracts.

Asked about Wyatt's charge, Martinez said the board does not hire contractors, but has set contract standards requiring wage floors and benefit packages for the employees. "The door remains open," Martinez added, for ATU members to become direct employees of Cap Metro, but state law would require that they accept a "meet-and-confer" bargaining model like those that apply to city of Austin employees. They would have to surrender the right to strike, Martinez said, "and I understand that's a very important right, and that's their decision." Wyatt's union has repeatedly rejected that option.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Capital Metro
City Council Takes on a Safer Sixth Street, Project Connect, and More
City Council Takes on a Safer Sixth Street, Project Connect, and More
Council tackles a 63-item agenda

Austin Sanders, March 4, 2022

City and Cap Metro Contemplate How to Make a
City and Cap Metro Contemplate How to Make a "Real City” Transit System
Following the slow march toward a vote on a multibillion-dollar investment in public transit

Austin Sanders, Jan. 17, 2020

More by Michael King
Two New Music Documentaries About New Orleans Merge Genres and Generations
Two New Music Documentaries About New Orleans Merge Genres and Generations
A river runs through it

May 20, 2022

How the Filibuster Has Already Undermined Democracy
How the Filibuster Has Already Undermined Democracy
The recent attacks on reproductive rights reveal another reason to let the filibuster burn

May 6, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Capital Metro, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091, National Labor Relations Board, Mike Martinez, Jay Wyatt

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle