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Section 13(c) Labor Protection

Thompson Coburn attorneys assist public transit agencies with issues that arise in connection with Section 13(c) labor protection obligations (now known as Section 533(b) of Title 49 of the United States code). This assistance includes filing and responding to objections to proposed certification terms, revising 13(c) protections, obtaining certification of grants from the Department of Labor (DOL), and providing analysis of 13(c) obligations in the restructuring of services, in contracting actions and in labor disputes involving collective bargaining terms.

Our representation also includes assistance in 13(c) litigation and in the adjudication of 13(c) claims before DOL and in private arbitration. In addition, our experience extends to a range of labor law issues affecting transit agencies, including the subcontracting of services, grievances, personnel matters, Family and Medical Leave Act issues, Davis Bacon Act compliance, and alcohol and drug testing.
  • Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Austin, Texas)
  • Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority
  • City of Loveland/City of Fort Collins
  • City of Phoenix
  • Dallas Area Rapid Transit
  • Foothill Transit
  • Greensboro Transit Authority
  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
  • Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas
  • New Jersey Transit
  • MTA New York City Transit
  • Orange County Transportation Authority
  • Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
  • South Florida Regional Transportation Authority
  • Transbay Joint Powers Authority
  • Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon
  • Utah Transit Authority
  • Valley Metro Rail (Phoenix)
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)
Thompson Coburn filed a brief on behalf of DART in the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed by Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1338. In the brief, DART opposed Amalgamated Transit Union Local No. 1338's request for a writ of certiorari to consider whether the Texas Supreme Court correctly held that Congress did not preempt, by implication, a Texas state governmental entity's immunity from suit when Congress enacted the Urban Mass Transit Act of 1964, and in particular Section 13(c) of that Act, which conditions a state transit entity's receipt of federal funds on the state workers' collective-bargaining rights. DART argued that the case did not warrant the Court's certiorari review because the Texas Supreme Court's decision aligns with the Court's constitutional precedent and the reach of, and limits on, Congress' constitutional authority.

Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC)
We obtained a favorable ruling from the FTA granting the RTC a waiver of the Buy America requirements for the RTCs purchase of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicles. After suffering a major downturn in sales tax revenues that fund the RTCs transit system, the RTC sought to "federalize" a $55 million contract for the purchase of BRT vehicles with the Wright Group from the United Kingdom. The waiver was opposed by a Buy America-compliant bus manufacturer at the urging of a trade association. Our attorneys authored the request to FTA, responded to the opposition, and assisted in garnering political and domestic manufacturing support. FTA granted the waiver – a decision that will enable the RTC to save $48 million in local funding and free up needed funds for the significant operating and capital needs of the Las Vegas system.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
WMATA and other municipal transit systems nationwide faced billions of dollars of termination liabilities arising out of the recent credit freeze. WMATA and the other systems financed their acquisition of subway cars and buses with tax-advantaged deals known as SILOs (sale-in, lease-out) and LILOs (lease-in, lease-out) backed by AIG, Ambac and other sureties. The drop in the credit ratings of these securities triggered technical defaults and extraordinary accelerated termination payment liabilities, in this case $43 million, that jeopardized the systems continuing operations.

Taking the lead nationwide, WMATA filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. and prevailed in a temporary restraining order (TRO) proceeding to prevent the first of many of these transactions from unraveling. Following issuance of the TRO, and evidentiary hearing on a preliminary injunction was held. The court expressed serious concerns about the windfall recovery sought by the investor bank and urged the parties to resolve the dispute. Thompson Coburn negotiated resolution of the dispute, avoiding termination liability for WMATA.