The union that represents thousands of MBTA workers took a stand against outsourcing their work Thursday morning, resulting in the arrests of seven union leaders.
Dozens of members of the Carmen's Union, protesting outsourcing efforts, prevented workers and armored trucks from leaving the site of the MBTA's so-called "money room" in Boston.
"We cut the chain off of the gate, we lifted the gate, and they then prevented a money room truck from leaving," said MBTA Transit Police Supt. Richard Sullivan.
The arrested officials were charged with unlawful assembly; they were released on their own recognizance during their arraignment later Thursday.
They're protesting the "T's" recommendation that Brink's be hired to oversee the money room, which comes after an outside review found widespread security issues at the facility in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood.
Governor Charlie Baker has been pushing to privatize the MBTA's cash counting operations, and MBTA officials say it will save millions of dollars by hiring Brink's, a Virginia-based company.
The five-year, $18.7 million contract with Brink's was approved later Thursday by the transit agency's fiscal control board with a 4-0 vote, as one member was absent.
MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said the transit agency's immediate concern this morning was the safety, since protesters padlocked the gates to the building, which blocked emergency exits.
"The MBTA has a responsibility to fare payers and taxpayers who fund the T's operating budget," he said. "There is no logical reason for a transit system to be in the cash handling business."
Brian Shortsleeve, the MBTA's acting general manager, says he has been tasked with closing the T's $100 million operating budget deficit, and privatizing cash collecction is one step toward acheiving that.
"Change is never easy, but the status quo is not working," he said.
Pesaturo also added that union members who currently work in the transit agency's money room have been offered the chance to work as bus or train operators.
The arrested officials were represented by Edward Krippendorf during their arraignment and are due back in court on Nov. 28.