Letters to the Editor

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BUSES: What about cuts to salaries?

Letter by Loren Kelley, Tacoma on Jan. 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm | No Comments »
January 16, 2013 12:15 pm

The CEO of Pierce Transit earns more at $177,000 than the governor, the state attorney general and the head of the state Department of Transportation. Many of the more than 400 drivers at Pierce Transit, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union, earn $27 per hour, more than drivers in Los Angeles and on par with drivers in New York and Chicago.

In 2011, drivers paid $85 per month for full family medical and dental benefits. Back in August, the union and the agency negotiated a new three-year deal asking drivers to pay more for health care. By way of comparison, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports employees receiving health care through employers paid, on average, $344 per month.

Now we hear that Pierce Transit is set to reduce service by 34 percent. What has the agency done to reduce costs prior to reducing service? Their website sure doesn’t say.

We’ve no idea what kind of sacrifice drivers are making in tough times. If they paid 34 percent more for their health care, they’d still be well under the national average. Similarly, the executives could take a 34 percent cut in pay and still earn well more than most of us.

While it wouldn’t close the deficit, such moves would surely make the public more inclined to support an increase in transit taxes to maintain essential service for students, seniors, the low-income and disabled folks. If the agency has taken steps other than slashing service, it sure would be great to know exactly what.

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