After 72 hours of around-the-clock negotiations, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the union representing transit workers reached a tentative deal on a new contract Monday night, pulling New York City back from the brink of its first transit strike in 22 years.
Details of the three-year deal were announced at a joint press conference in Midtown Manhattan held by the MTA and top officials with the Transport Workers Union Local 100.
The new contract includes a $$1,000 lump-sum payment to the TWU's more than 34,000 workers in the first year, with three-percent raises in each of the next two years, tied to productivity increases.
It also includes sweeping changes in the MTA's disciplinary procedures; changes in the union's sick leave rules; the establishment of a child care fund; a skills upgrade and training fund; and assured health benefits for transit employees.
The tentative deal was approved by the union's executive board early Tuesday morning, but members must still vote whether to ratify it. Union leaders expect overwhelming approval in the vote by mail next month.
All along, the union president, Roger Toussaint, insisted he could not accept any “zeroes” in a new contract, and he succeeded in getting the MTA to move off its original proposal of no pay hikes.
“We have a proposed agreement which we are prepared to recommend to the executive board of TWU Local 100 for approval,” said Toussaint. “We are very confident that this package will meet with the approval of the members of Local 100. It answers many of their needs and many of their legitimate pleas, especially in the area of health coverage and in the area of our members’ connections to the job, and we expect that it will be overwhelmingly approved, both at the executive board level and at the membership level."
"[The one-time lump-sum payment] is for all of the back work that Local 100 did to increase productivity and to increase ridership up till now," said MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow. "The productivity measures that we have asked for and have been granted in this new contract will go a long way towards modernizing the way the MTA and New York City Transit runs its business. I also want to say that we think today marks a turning point in the relationship of the MTA and its unions. We want to go from confrontation to cooperation. We want our members and our workers to have health care, we want our workers to get wages and improvements based on productivity, and most of all, we want our workers to be treated with dignity."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was pleased with the outcome of the sometimes contentious negotiations, and he also hinted the TWU may not have to pay the $$5-$$10 million the city spent drafting its strike contingency plan, as he had originally threatened to do.
"I said a number of times over the weekend and last week that a strike would have been devastating to the city and not good for the TWU, and in the end, I thought that the members of the TWU would realize that they have a responsibility to this city and not break the law, and my confidence in them was well justified,” said Bloomberg. “When it came time and the negotiations got tough, they stayed at the table negotiating rather than going out on strike, and that's exactly what you'd like them to do. I'm sure they would have liked more and the MTA would have liked less, but that's what a negotiation is, and they've come to an agreement through mutual cooperation and by talking to each other."
Transit workers had threatened to go on strike at midnight Monday if their contract expired without a new deal, but the union said it would continue to negotiate as long as there is progress.
The union initially sought a 24-percent raise spread evenly over three years, but then lowered its demand to 18 percent as around-the-clock negotiations began Friday morning at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown.
The sides sparred over what the MTA, which is also considering a fare increase to as much as $$2, can afford. The union doubted the MTA’s projections for a nearly $$3 billion shortfall in the next two years, after a $$300 million surplus last year.
Hundreds of transit workers and members of other city unions marched across the Brooklyn Bridge Monday afternoon for a rally at City Hall Park.
New York City's last transit strike was in 1980, when workers shut down buses and subways for 11 days before a contract agreement was reached.
Exclusive: Settlement Done, NY1 Interviews TWU's Roger ToussaintTransit Strike Would Have Been Hard On Commuters, MerchantsSmall Businesses Say Threat Of Transit Strike Hurt Bottom Line
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