Governor Cuomo appeared at the Riverfront Library Auditorium in Yonkers this morning to present his executive budget message and, during a Q&A after the presentation, The Politicker asked whether he’s optimistic the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be able to reach a deal on a new contract with Transit Workers Union Local 100, which represents the people who operate New York City’s subway and bus system.
“You know I’m leaving that up to the MTA and Joe Lhota,” Governor Cuomo said.
Local 100′s contract expired at the stroke of midnight on Monday. This is the first time that the union has been without a contract since 2005, when transit workers went on strike for just under two days, but MTA Cchairman and CEO, Joe Lhota, who was appointed by Governor Cuomo last October, and Local 100 President John Samuelsen have agreed to continue talks past the contract deadline.
If the two sides are unable to make a deal it could result in binding arbitration or another potential work stoppage by the union.
There are several sticking points in the negotiations. The MTA, which is a state agency, wants Local 100 to agree to a five-year contract rather than the traditional three-year term. While the union wants wage increases pegged to the rate of inflation, the MTA wants pay for transit workers to remain flat for the next three years. Local 100 is also against MTA proposals on vacation days, sick time, part-time bus drivers and a new classification for station cleaners.
Despite the disagreements, a strike seems unlikely this time around and, yesterday, Local 100 spokesman Jim Gannon told The Politicker he believes Mr. Lhota and Mr. Samuelsen have a relatively good relationship.
“With Lhota so far, I mean, you know, when I say John likes him, maybe that might be strong. But I think he respects him and he thinks that Lhota’s honest and not a phony,” Mr. Gannon said. “He thinks he’s genuine, he’s not a bullshitter.”
Though Governor Cuomo stopped short of expressing optimism the two sides will come to an agreement, he’s confident he chose the right man for the job of negotiating with the union.
“I am optimistic that Joe Lhota’s the right man to handle the situation,” Governor Cuomo said.