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Transit Workers Call For Fair Contract Negotiations With MTA Officials

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it's on firmer financial footing as its board votes on its 2014 budget, but that leaves riders and workers demanding more from the agency, and the workers are angry. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

On Wednesday, the man who leads 35,000 subway and bus workers delivered an ominous warning to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

"They have shown great patience throughout this process, but their patience is beginning to wear thin," said John Samuelsen, president of Transit Workers Union Local 100.

The TWU has gone nearly two years without a contract and longer without a raise, and the MTA says that workers won't get one for at least three more years unless they agree to concessions.

"You sit here and talk of zeroes unless your dedicated workers agree to massive givebacks, but you are cowards at heart," said one person.

The union got socked with $2.5 million in fines following a two-and-a-half day walkout in 2005 that violated a state law barring strikes by public employees.

Frustration over being handcuffed by that law boiled over.

"If you didn't have Section 210 of the Taylor Law to hide behind, you wouldn't dare attempt to impose such Draconian sacrifices on your workers," said one person.

"This is your crisis, not ours, and we want our money now," said another.

Even with the MTA's finances on an upswing and its board passing a $13.5 billion budget, the agency says cost-of-living increases aren't happening without givebacks.

"Every 1 percent is $50 million. So if you apply the standard that if in your mind, you think they should get a standard cost of living increase and there's no negotiation on savings, that's $100 million," said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.

It wasn't just workers who came looking for a boost. Several riders pushed for the full-length return of the B37, a line cut in 2010 that's set to be partially restored next year.

"The sooner it gets back, the better," said one person.

The MTA says it's made more than $40 million in service restorations since cuts three years ago that led to the elimination of two subway lines and more than 30 bus routes, but riders say they still want more.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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