The Transport Workers Union Local 100 and MTA have come to a tentative agreement on Monday. The two sides remained in a deadlock, as the contract between the two expired without a deal in place.
Contract talks stalled when the two sides didn’t agree on the size of a raise for workers.
TWU President John Samuelsen fought for union members, stating, “We remain far apart on the most important piece of the contract: economics.” He reaffirmed his commitment that the MTA provides raises above the 2% inflation rate.
The MTA refused to budge until the contract expired.
Samuelsen stated on Monday, “We won a tentative contract with solid raises and other strong economic gains, moving transit workers well ahead of inflation and greatly improving their quality of life.”
TWU represents 38,000 MTA workers. The contract negotiations lasted two months. A union rally in November led to protests outside of MTA headquarters in November. The rally sparked the talks between the union and MTA.
Safety reforms and wage increases were the center of the negotiations.
Workers that repair, maintain and operate buses or subway networks demanded stricter safety reforms.
The discussions between the union and MTA took place inside the Andaz Hotel. An impending strike was imminent following the contract’s expiration. Samuelsen states, “The leadership team for the union was getting ready to leave the hotel more than one time. Discussion there was sometimes very tense.”
MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast states that an improved financial forecast for the MTA would help contract negotiations. Prendergast will retire soon, marking his last contract dispute with the TWU.
Samuelsen notes that the union didn’t have to concede on any major points. The union will receive a wage increase above the 2% inflation rate. Wage increases of $0.75 per hour as well as wage increases for articulated bus operators were met.
Female workers will also find improved accommodations following the contract. The locker rooms, designed 50 years ago, fail to accommodate the MTA’s 5,000 female employees. The MTA agrees to modernize employee facilities for female workers.
The contract must be approved and ratified from the MTA board.
A wage increase above inflation rates will harm passengers, warns watchdogs. The MTA will raise fares to meet the higher wage increases. The agreement includes a 2.5% wage increase. A cash bonus of $500 will be given to workers that retire or leave the agency between May 2019 and May 15, 2019. The bonuses will help alleviate high salaries, but will have an immediate impact on the MTA’s financials.
The MTA plans to raise fares in 2017, but budgeted for a 2% wage raise.
The replacement for Prendergast will have a difficult time replacing the well-respected MTA president. Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t hinted at who will replace Prendergast. He has worked diligently to help Staten Island with the proposal of a rail to help alleviate traffic and increase the borough’s public transit system.
The MTA and TWU expect the board to approve the contract.
Prendergast announced recently that the MTA has rolled out an underground Wi-Fi and cell service that allows passengers to remain connected when taking mass transit.