MTA Workers Union Express Their Labor Concerns with Post-It Notes
The Transport Workers Union takes a page out of "Subway Therapy" as it pushes the Metropolitan Transit Authority for a new labor deal. Transit Reporter Jose Martinez filed the following report.
The post-it notes in subway stations airing New Yorkers' anxieties after the election are not only in the stations.
On Wednesday, Transport Workers Union Local 100 took the "Subway Therapy" idea to the MTA's Lower Manhattan headquarters.
"Dont't Touch My Health Benefits," read a post-it note.
"Diesel Killing Us" read another.
The stunt was part of the union's public push for a new contract, with more money and safety protections.
"When I got assaulted, I got slashed on my neck, to my face," said bus driver John Browne. "It was unprovoked."
"We don't just move passengers," said subway conductor Warren Cox. "We put ourselves right directly in harm's way."
Transit workers put their pleas on the post-it notes and held up photos of workers bloodied on the job to demand raises above the rate of inflation, once their current pact expires in January.
"Between the steel dust, the diesel fuel, the rats, the dangerous people and other hazardous conditions," said Janice Carter, train operator. "We deserve and need a raise to support our families."
"We are not accepting 2% raises," said John Samuelsen, president of TWU Local 100. "We are not doing it!"
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said the agency is on firmer financial footing than it was three years ago when the last pay hike was negotiated.
He says he is optimistic a new deal can be worked out before the current contract expires next month.
On Wednesday, he said hearing from the workforce affected him.
"They are truly on the front line," said Prendergast.
The kind words from management haven't kept the union from rallying in front of MTA Headquarters or from hinting at what could happen.
Even though the state's Taylor Law bars public employees from walking off the job, union leaders were not afraid to use the word 'strike.
A walkout is highly unlikely.
A two-and-a-half-day strike in 2005 divided the rank and file while costing the Local 100 two and a half million dollars in fines.
The famously militant union was muted for years. But now it's refusing to take a strike threat off the table.
"Understand that no union never takes the decision to strike lightly," said Harry Lombardo, International President of TWU.
"This issue is going to come to a head in a month and hopefully we get to a spot that's not ugly," said Samuelsen.