IAM District 15 Assistant Directing Business Representative Mike Vartabedian was recently presented with the Greater Boston Labor Council 2021 Award for his work as co-chair of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition, a group that successfully helped reverse proposed job cuts at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vartabedian, co-chair of the group of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit, has helped efforts to thwart the transit agency from cutting jobs and services amid the pandemic.  Strong rallies and lobbying by the IAM and its allies led to the MBTA recently halting planned cuts, and instead officials moved to restoring funding to run buses and trains on the same schedule in place pre-pandemic.

Vartabedian, also chairman of the Coalition of Labor Unions at the MBTA, advocated to make sure labor has a voice on the Fiscal Management and Control Board, which is tasked with monitoring the transit agency’s finances, management and operations. 

“I’m truly honored for this award, but this was a team effort. The Public Transit Public Good Coalition has really been a champion of making sure these essential workers of the MBTA are protected during this pandemic,” he said. “We have also been making sure the transit system commits to making sure services continue to be reliable for those who depend on it.”

Vartabedian shared the recent GBLC award with fellow Public Transit Public Good Coalition co-chair Lee Matsueda, Executive Director Community Labor United. 

“This award is well deserved for Mike and the Public Transit Public Good Coalition. Mike and our allies have truly been rallying for workers, making sure the many ills of the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t result in added hardship for the MBTA workforce, which is so essential to keeping people throughout the Greater Boston region moving,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “Mike embodies the heart and drive of a true unionist, and I am so proud that he’s recognized.”

The victories have been mounting in the IAM’s fight to secure jobs at the MBTA. Machinists of IAM Local 264 were victorious in a historic two-year privatization fight against Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018.


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