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Posted at 4:48 PM ET, 02/18/2011

Judge indicates Metro can't afford raises

By Luke Rosiak

A federal judge Friday took a step towards resolving a dispute between Metro and its largest workers' union, indicating he believes that an arbitration board's opinion violated a federal statute, Metro said. The arbitrator called for retroactive wages for workers, but Metro contended that the ruling violated guidelines that say awards must be within the agency's ability to pay.

The chronically cash-strapped agency is currently attempting to close a $72 million budget gap and is considering reducing service or begging jurisdictions for more money.

The judge directed the arbitrator to issue a new opinion in compliance with those guidelines within 40 days. After that, Metro and ATU Local 689 will have 15 days to argue their cases before the judge makes a final decision.

"The National Capital Area Interest Arbitration Standards Act prohibits an arbitrator from rendering an award that provides for salaries and other benefits that exceed the interstate compact agency's funding ability; allows an increase in pay rates only if any costs to the agency do not adversely affect the public welfare; and requires the arbitrator to issue a written award that demonstrates all of the factors in the Act," Metro said in a statement.

The union declined to comment to the Post because the decision was not final.

By Luke Rosiak  | February 18, 2011; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  Metro, Transportation Politics  
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