BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Seven members of the Carmen’s Union were arrested outside the MBTA’s so-called “money room” in Charlestown during a protest Thursday morning.
The union, which represents thousands of transit workers, was picketing outside the facility preventing workers and armored trucks from leaving.
The picketing began around 4 a.m. as a response to the MBTA recommending that a private contractor be hired to handle the agency’s cash collection operation.
The union chained and locked the gates to the facility, but three hours later Transit Police cut the locks. Seven picketers, all members of the union’s executive board, continued to block access to the building, so they were arrested.
Each was charged with unlawful assembly. They were arraigned in Charlestown Municipal Court and released on personal recognizance with an order to stay away from the money room.
“In this particular case we had employees that were located inside that revenue collection facility that, if an emergency vehicle needed to get in, it wouldn’t be allowed,“ Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan told reporters.
An outside review earlier this year found widespread security issues at the facility that collects and counts an estimated $119 million in cash placed in fare boxes and fare vending machines.
The lapses included unlocked security doors that were propped open and a photo of an employee allegedly sleeping while a pile of cash sat unguarded.
As a result, the MBTA fiscal control board approved a five-year, $18.7 million contract Thursday afternoon with Virginia-based Brink’s to oversee the money room.
A 2015 law granted the MBTA a temporary exemption from the state’s anti-privatization law.
The Carmen’s Union has strongly opposed any outsourcing efforts.
They say their picketing was “a stand against the outsourcing of their work to a private company.”
“Change is never easy. We understand that, but the status quo is not working,” said acting MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve.
“We believe that by getting out of the cash management business, we’ll be able to better focus on our core delivery service and also save the T a lot of money.”
The MBTA says the money room workers have been offered other jobs within the agency that would not include a salary cut.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
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