Showing posts with label marta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marta. Show all posts

Thursday, December 8, 2016

MARTA’s Keith Parker honored as 2016 Public Official of the Year; ATU Local 732 may disagree

Governing magazine has named MARTA General Manager and CEO Keith Parker as one of its 2016 Public Officials of the Year, but MARTA’s union may not agree with that assessment.

The magazine’s Publisher Mark Funkhouser writes that in the group of eight individuals honored this year, he sees some common traits:

“Among the group of eight, I see some common traits that reflect the evolution of politics and management in state and local government, such as moderation, collaboration, and a focus on smart financial management.”

Mr. Parker’s listed accomplishments include launching a safety campaign on MARTA’s trains and buses, decreased wait times, reopened bathrooms, giving employees bonuses, and finishing his first year with a $9 million surplus, instead of the $33 million deficit that was projected before he came in.

Governing bills itself as the nation's leading media platform covering politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders.

In its profile, the magazine says that Parker helped MARTA build trust with riders and the general public, which resulted in approval of a referendum in November that resulted in a $2.5 billion investment for rail expansion for MARTA.

Outsourcing Paratransit

Keith Parker’s relationship with the MARTA union has not been as smooth.

The magazine does not mention the MARTA union’s dispute with the system over the outsourcing of MARTA’s paratransit service.

In a Transformation Road Map prepared by KPMG, the consultancy has recommended that MARTA explore outsourcing its paratransit service as a means of reducing costs. Five-year savings could range from a loss of $15,390,000 to a savings of $42,940,000.

This proposal has been opposed by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, which has offered a cost-saving MARTA Mobility proposal, which the union claims includes a series of recommendations to help the agency achieve its cost and efficiency goals. 

In response, the MARTA Board of Commissioners voted to table their decision to privatize the federally mandated service. 

The dispute still figures prominently on the union’s web site under:

Governing writes that “Today, Parker is regarded by many as the man who saved MARTA, but he is focused on the work ahead. ‘We’re not doing any victory laps yet,’ he says.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

MARTA to outsource absence management

On Sept. 3, MARTA’s Board of Directors authorized a contract with UPMC (University of Pennsylvania Medical Corp.) WorkPartners to manage MARTA’s short- and long-term sick leave, as well as family and medical leave, at a cost of $1.7 million over a three-year period for the transit system.

The 8 to 0 vote reflects the Atlanta transit system’s frustration over the in-house handling of its leave policies. The Board hopes that outsourcing absence management to a private company will cut costs through closer oversight of leave usage.

With added scrutiny, “the people beating the system right now will come to the forefront, and we’ve got a lot of people beating the system,” said Freda B. Hardage, a Fulton County representative on the MARTA Board.

According to the story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the goal of outsourcing management of leave is to nearly double, from 8 percent to 15 percent, the percentage of requests for unplanned absence claims that are currently denied.

The newspaper is reporting that MARTA had been spending $3.1 million a year to manage different types of employee leave internally, including vacation, sick leave and disability programs. On any given day, one in three MARTA employees is absent from work because of an unplanned event. And for bus drivers, maintenance workers or train operators, that absence rate exceeds 50 percent.

In 2012, a consultant’s audit found the high rate of call-outs cost MARTA about $11 million a year. Another assessment by a separate consultant late last year found that those costs are rising. Unplanned absences now account for $13.6 million in MARTA’s budget.

A recent assessment by Sagewell Partners found that unplanned absences are costing MARTA 598,923 total lost work hours, equivalent to the work time of 291 full-time employees and about 6 percent of the transit agency’s overall payroll costs.

FMLA leave policy is so complicated that outside vendors are increasingly being brought in to manage these programs, said Phil LaPorte, a labor relations expert and professor emeritus at Georgia State University College of Law.

“They have greater expertise in dealing with it on a day-to-day basis, and they can spend the time to require the medical verification of the condition the employee is alleging,” LaPorte said.