MBTA votes to privatize money room

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BOSTON — The private firm Brinks will take over cash handling at the MBTA after a unanimous vote by the T's Fiscal and Management Control Board on Thursday.

Brian Lang, the board's union representative was unable to attend the meeting and would have voted in the negative, said Steve Poftak, a member of the board who presided over the meeting.

T management has claimed the private firm's economies of scale and expertise with the T's vending machine equipment will lead to better service at a lower price than the work currently handled by MBTA employees.

Union representatives have strenuously opposed the move, and seven top officials at the Boston Carmen's Union were arrested early Thursday morning outside the MBTA's money room in Charlestown.

The vote Thursday marks the first time the MBTA has taken advantage of options made available under a three-year window of increased flexibility in outsourcing that lawmakers granted the transportation authority last year.

"It's private entities and corporate scum who want to feed at the public trough and this administration is jamming it down our goddamn throats," said Lou Antonellis, president of IBEW Local 103. Antonellis praised the seven top officials at the Boston Carmen's Union who were arrested outside the money room.

Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman took aim at Gov. Charlie Baker, who has urged the T to seek outsourcing as a means of improving service and balancing its budget.

"Charlie Baker isn't fixing the T. He's gutting it," Tolman said, referring to "Mr. Baker's Transportation Authority."

Charles Chieppo, a senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute, said problems at the money room have made it a prime candidate for privatization.


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