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ATU disappointed in U.S. court order preventing DOL from enforcing federal Section 13(c) labor protections

Union to appeal decision to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Silver Spring, MD – The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the largest transit union in North America, is disappointed by a court order barring the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from protecting transit workers covered by the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) from an attack on their rights to fully and freely negotiate over their pension benefits.  In response, the ATU will appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On October 28, 2021, the DOL correctly found that PEPRA, which restricts bargaining over pensions for covered employees, is inconsistent with Section 13(c) of the Federal Transit Act. Section 13(c) requires that in order to be eligible for federal transit funds an agency must ensure that mass transit employees’ bargaining rights are preserved and continued.

In response to the DOL determination, and at the request of California, the court has ordered the DOL to refrain from implementing its decision protecting transit workers’ rights.

“We are very disappointed in this court order to halt the implementation of the DOL decision,” said ATU International President John Costa. “California gets to have their cake and eat it too. While denying our members the right to fully bargain over pensions, they are now able to receive federal transit funding to which they are not entitled. This is precisely what Section 13(c) was designed to prevent.”

In its determination, the DOL found that PEPRA diminishes public transit employees’ rights to negotiate over their pensions, stating that it is a “significant interference with transit workers collective bargaining rights.” Therefore, the Department cannot certify that arrangements are in place to protect transit workers which meet the labor protections required by Section 13(c). 

“We plan to immediately appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,” said Costa. “This is a violation of our members’ rights, and we will not stand silent.”