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TriMet, union spar over budget figures

As the TriMet board of directors prepares to begin considering the agency's next budget, TriMet and president of the union representing most of its employees are clashing over compensation figures.

On Monday afternoon, Amalgamated Transit Union 757 emailed out a press release attacking supposed management bonuses in an attached document.

According to the release, the document shows that 35 non-union employees received bonuses ranging from $502 to $16,827.

“Not one clerical or low wage, non-union employee got a bonus. Instead, for the most part, the bonuses went to the ‘already-fat-cats," ATU 757 President Bruce Hansen said in the release. "This increasing inequality has become the new ‘normal’ at TriMet.”

But TriMet responded the figures in the document were not bonuses by cashed out vacation pay.

"TriMet does not pay bonuses," agency spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said.

According to Fetsch, the document, labeled "Management Bonuses," was generated by the union.

TriMet officials had previously said some non-union employees were receiving pay adjustments to keep them competitive with similar jobs at other agencies or compensate them for additional responsibilities.

The exchange happened at TriMet and ATU 757 are entered state mediated talks in an attempt to resolve there long running contract differences.

The agency's board of directors will also vote on sending its proposed budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year to a Multnomah County review commission on Wednesday. The $604 million operating and capital budget would continue to restore service cut during the Great Recession without raising fares.

“This budget continues our effort to achieve long-term fiscal stability, while restoring and improving service for our riders,”TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said when releasing the budget. “I am committed to staying on course to reduce our benefit costs so we can focus on our core mission of providing more service to our growing region. This will keep our commitments to our employees, retirees, riders and payroll taxpayer’s for the long term.”

A previous version of the story said the TriMet board would hold a hearing on the proposed budget Wednesday. That was incorrect.