Public transportation is a labor intensive service industry with a workforce comprised largely of employees who operate, maintain, supervise, and manage transit services. Most transit employees in large and mid-size urban areas are represented by labor unions, in particular vehicle operators and maintenance workers. As in many other industries, relations between labor and management at transit agencies are sometimes strained and adversarial, characterized by a lack of trust and respect, animosity, and poor communication. Many argue that these negative relations create lose-lose situations for transit managers, employees, and communities. Advocates for positive labor-management relationships believe much can be gained by building effective partnerships, resulting in broader cooperation between labor and management. Over the past 30 years many organizations in the United States have pursued initiatives to improve labor-management relationships. These initiatives often occur in conjunction with efforts to address specific work place problems. While some research has been conducted, more information is needed about challenges organizations have faced building and sustaining these initiatives. For example, more information is needed regarding (1) the practical factors and circumstances that lead to success in creating and sustaining positive labor-management partnerships both within and outside the transit industry and (2) the potential benefits to labor and management of successful labor-management cooperation and partnerships.
The objective of this research was to develop a practical toolkit for creating, implementing, and sustaining positive labor-management partnerships at transit agencies. The toolkit will address how successful partnerships can benefit both labor and management; identify the factors and circumstances that lead to success in creating and sustaining positive labor-management relationships; and serve transit agencies interested in improved labor-management cooperation.
STATUS: This project is complete and was published in December 2015 as a 2-volume report in the regular TCRP series as TCRP Report 181.