When President Obama arrives at the Greater Boston Labor Council’s Labor Day breakfast on Monday, he’ll be greeted by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority workers rallying against privatization.
The Boston Carmen’s Union, the T’s largest labor group, plans to protest the T’s recent proposal to outsource the operation of certain bus routes, according to James O’Brien, the union’s president, starting at 7 a.m. near the annual event at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
“We want to send a strong message to these private companies that think they’re going to come here and do our work,” O’Brien said. “We want to tell the governor and the MBTA that this isn’t going to be easy.”
In August, T officials unveiled that they were exploring the privatization of 32 bus routes, which could affect about 65 drivers and 93 routes operated by union members.
The plan shouldn’t have come as a big surprise. For months, the governor had been pushing lawmakers to temporarily suspend a law that puts up hurdles to outsourcing public services, and eventually won that victory in the Legislature.
The governor and T officials have promised to use the suspension of the law judiciously. T officials guaranteed the union that no bus drivers would be laid off — instead, affected drivers would be moved to new routes.
Still, O’Brien said he felt the plan was a “betrayal,” and he doesn’t trust the word of T officials. Though T officials have promised the step is meant to increase service and cut costs, O’Brien said he believes privatization is just one step to “diminishing service and increasing fares.”
Union members had planned Monday’s rally for weeks, with no connection to Obama’s visit, O’Brien said. In fact, organizers had worried that the president’s tight security could affect their event.