The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

New York Transportation Union to Vote on New Contract

by Brendan Coyne

Dec. 29, 2005 – After working months without a contract and putting themselves on the line in a three-day strike last week, members of the union representing transportation workers in New York City are set to vote on an agreement. The proposed contract gives less than they asked for but more than the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had offered before the strike.

Tuesday night, the executive board of Transportation Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 voted 37–4 to bring the proposal before members and recommend that they accept the terms. The balloting will be done by mail.

The proposed contract would give workers a 10.5 percent raise over 37 months and requires members to pay 1.5 percent of their salary toward health insurance premiums. Additionally, the two sides agreed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an officially observed holiday and increase the MTA’s contribution to the workers’ training fund by $350,000 a month.

As part of the deal, the MTA withdrew its demand that union members accept changes to the current pension plan, one of the most contentious of the issues the two sides faced off over. The MTA had sought a two-tiered pension plan, whereby new employees would have to pay 6 percent from each paycheck into the pension plan, triple what current TWA workers contribute.

In a brief statement available on the union’s website, TWU President Roger Toussaint thanked New Yorkers for bearing with the union during their strike last week and Local 100 members for "their unerring support and their perseverance."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who last week accused the union of acting "thuggishly," said in a statement Wednesday: "I applaud the MTA and TWU for hammering out this agreement and thank New Yorkers once again for their patience and cooperation during a very difficult three days."

While Local 100 leaders and the mayor may be behind the agreement, the rank-and-file’s stance isn’t nearly as clear.

On an internet message board for Local 100 members, workers sounded off about the health insurance agreement and the fact that workers are still liable for fines incurred during the strike, which, under state law, will amount to six days worth of pay. Several of the posts include vulgar language and threats, accusing Toussaint and other Local 100 leaders of selling out the membership.

Noting that Toussaint negotiated two contracts for the union over six years providing for only a 12 percent net raise, Steven Hudson wrote: "Roger, you truly are an ignorant piece of shit! I surely hope you got some kickback money from the MTA because your ass is outta here come December."

Other TWU workers expressed greater conciliation in comments to reporters. Bus driver Mitchell Strong told Newsday: "You got to give up something. We didn't want to give up anything, but that's what happens sometimes, you know. Everybody has to give a little bit."

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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