District Council 57

It’s Time to Get RT Back on Track

By JoAnn Beverly

I have worked for the Sacramento Regional Transit District for over 29 years. I love the Agency. I love the people.

It’s where I started my career and, up until recently, it’s where I thought I would be able to end my career with dignity in my retirement years.

All of those hopes changed last week when I received a notice that, after decades of dedicated service to Sacramento Regional Transit, I would be laid off.

When RT’s new general manager Henry Li came on board and announced that a major “culture change” was needed immediately to improve the management of this Agency’s finances and our service to customers, my coworkers and I had a glimmer of hope that things might finally change for the better.

Instead, the decision to go after the administrative employees who, behind the scenes, help make sure the system runs smoothly every day shows that the real culture change needs to start with RT’s management.

During the recession, longtime employees felt helpless as management continued to make destructive financial decisions. The integrity of management changed, and the skills required to hold a management position changed.

Management has negotiated better wages and benefits for themselves while many employees have struggled to make ends meet. The most obvious example is the outgoing general manager, Mike Wiley, who is retiring with a salary of more than $200,000 a year. He is also taking an additional $75,000 a year for life as a “special consultant” to the Board. Where is that money going to come from? RT’s operating budget, of course.

More frustrating is that the Board continues to rubberstamp everything that is put in front of them. RT has continued to use one-time capital improvement funding to expand services for light rail and other facilities. But RT has failed to consider the people—the administrative employees—who are going to be needed to manage and maintain these services for the community.

I had always felt secure knowing that my dedication to public service would protect me from being laid off. I started as an office assistant in 1987 and worked my way up to an administrative supervisor. My goal was to work a few more years in order to pay off my house, a brand new vehicle and meet other financial obligations. I am now trying to cope with how my husband and I are going to make ends meet. My coworkers who also received layoff notices are in the same predicament.

RT is an agency that is still extremely top-heavy when it comes to how it is operated, and the structure still needs a lot of work.

I am your neighbor, your friend and community member, and I am speaking for all working families when I say it’s sad to see taxpayers’ money wasted in such a manner due to poor leadership that affects us all.

I am now standing together with my AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) brothers and sisters, along with the Agency’s other unions, to say that it’s time to get RT back on track. How can this happen?

• Rescind the layoffs for the Union members whose jobs are to make the system run safely and on time.
• Conduct an independent public forensic audit.
• Take no more action against workers until voters decide on Sacramento County’s November half-cent sales tax.
• Stop the fare increases for the public who depend on public transit to get to work, school, shopping and medical offices.

To make our region thrive, everyone has to pitch in more, including management. We had layoffs previously, and wages were frozen and furloughs were given out. The employees are already doing more with less, and everyone is rolling up their sleeves to find creative solutions to budget problems.

Now we want to see the RT’s management do the same and find fair solutions.

JoAnn Beverly is a member of AFSCME Local 146.
 

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