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Group of Transit Workers Urges Co-Workers to Vote Down Contract Offer

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TWC News: Group of Transit Workers Urges Co-Workers to Vote Down Contract Offer
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The clock's ticking on the contract offer from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to city transit workers who've gone without raises for several years, but some workers are in no hurry to take the deal. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Transit workers have gone more than two years without a contract. Now, they have a little less than three weeks to decide whether they want the one pushed through by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

On Wednesday, at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's monthly board meeting, a small group of dissidents from Transport Workers Union Local 100 urged their co-workers to vote it down.

"Raises are all below inflation," said subway operator Seth Rosenberg. "I've got 17 years to put in myself, and at this rate, I'm not even keeping up. Transit workers have already lost a significant percentage over the last 20 years, and we'll be losing more and more."

More than 34,000 subway and bus workers would get 8 percent pay hikes over five years, including retroactive bumps dating back to 2011, but they'd also have to put 2 percent of their salaries toward expanded health care, up from 1.5 percent now.

Some said they'd prefer job security.

"You can give the workers small wage increases, you can give them new benefits, you can give them a commuter pass, but what is it worth if the next day, you lay them off?" said station agent John Mooney.

Some of the dissidents, like retired station agent Marty Goodman, are hoping that members of the rank and file do as they did in January 2006. They rejected the MTA's contract offer by a mere seven votes weeks after the end of two-and-a-half day transit strike.

"Hear me, rise up and vote down this rotten contract!" Goodman said.

In a statement, union spokesman Jim Gannon said, "We believe these folks represent a very small minority of transit workers. The vast majority of workers are going to vote yes."

MTA officials said the offer fits within the agency's four-year financial plan, even if they didn't want to get into what it might mean for riders down the road.

"To look out to 2019, which is, you know, five years out from now, versus the four-year financial plan we have, I want to get through the four-year financial plan we have right now," said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.

Ballots are set to go to out to TWU members on Friday. They're due back May 19. If the union membership approves the contract, the full MTA board is expected to vote on it at its next meeting on May 21.

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