General Chairman Marco Gudino met with MTA CEO Phillip Washington on Tuesday August 4, in the first of many one on one meetings to be held between the two transportation leaders. In a show of strength and solidarity from SMART International, Mr. Gudino was accompanied by International Representative Victor Baffoni.
The General Committee has been in contact with CEO Phil Washington since his selection was announced. Representatives from the union have met with him in the past at MTA events and at larger group meetings. Although the General Committee has been pleased with the initial outreach, Mr. Gudino felt that the union representing over half of MTA's employees, should have a more operator focused meeting and agenda with Mr. Washington.
The first item on the agenda for General Chairman Marco Gudino, was to set the tone for a positive working environment with Mr. Washington and his staff. The CEO also expressed his desire for a positive and constructive working relationship. As Mr. Washington has been reorganizing staff at the MTA, Mr. Gudino was quick to point out the key members of the current MTA staff that have been aiding in a more constructive and positive work relationship between labor and management.
"I truly believe that Mr. Washington is a man that we can work with." said Gudino. "If we can build a positive working relationship based on mutual trust and respect, I believe our union can avoid many of the problems that have plagued us in the past."
The need for greater operator protections is another area where the General Chairman and the CEO see eye to eye. As has been previously reported, Mr. Washington is moving aggressively on a plan to install protective barriers on all buses throughout the system. Washington has requested an expedited procurement process from the MTA Board and has gotten federal grant money to pay for it. The General Committee has been working with MTA staff to ensure that the critiques from the operators on the new barrier system have been heard.
"Are the new operator barriers perfect and will they stop all operator assaults. Of course not." said Gudino. "But I believe that they will serve as a deterrent and will prevent many assaults. That's a good thing."
Mr. Gudino and the General Committee will continue to work with Mr. Washington and MTA to improve on all security enhancements, to include the barrier system, in the future.
Although no additional individual meetings have been set at this time, General Chairman Marco Gudino has planned to meet with the CEO, along with the other MTA collective bargaining units, in regularly scheduled meetings.