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Transport Workers Union Takes Push For New Contract Public

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The Transport Workers Union has been without a contract for nearly two years, and now, they're taking their push for a new deal to the public. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

The Transport Workers Union's new pitch is an internet and radio ad campaign that casts its members as heroes who quickly restored service to much of a damaged transit system days after Hurricane Sandy.

"They pumped water, repaired tracks," the ad says. "Some even chose not to go home at all, staying on the job to get New York's buses and trains back on track."

The union is pushing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for raises, saying the workers earned them.

Their contract expired in January 2012, but workers have stayed on the job, unlike the walkout that crippled the city in 2005.

"We chose to take a prudent course," said John Samuelsen, president of TWU Local 100. "We chose not to have the riding public wake up on the morning of January 16 not knowing whether or not we were on strike or not."

The union won 11 percent raises over three years following the 2005 strike, and Samuelsen said his workers deserve what he calls fair treatment and fair money in their next contract.

The union, though, has to contend with riders facing fare increases in 2015 and 2017, as well as management saying there's no room for raises without concessions.

"Our financial plan assumes that each new labor contract will include three net-zero increases, which means wage increases only if they're offset by productivity improvements to be able to fund them," said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.

"It's absurd, and the union rejects that in totality," Samuelsen said. "We're not going to take three zeroes, and Prendergast, the governor and everybody else needs to understand that."

Even after the TWU got slammed with $2.5 million in fines for violating the state's Taylor Law by walking off the job for two-and-a-half days in 2005, Samuelsen said the union isn't afraid to mix it up with management. He didn't say how, though.

Samuelsen said his people will rally on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in their quest for a new contract.

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