Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents the people who operate the city’s subways and buses, has pulled out of contract talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In a statement released today about their departure from the bargaining table, Local 100 accused the MTA of “negotiating in the press” in “a shocking violation of good faith negotiation tactics.”
“Negotiations were to resume on Thursday, January 19. That morning, an article appeared in the NY Daily News presenting givebacks that the MTA would be asking for at the meeting. This was a shocking violation of good faith negotiating practices and of a specific agreement with management to refrain from negotiating in the press,” the statement said. “This move, the second time in three days that management had seeded the press with its claims, poisoned the atmosphere for negotiations. Local 100 presented its protest and then cancelled the remainder of the bargaining session in order to clear the air before negotiations continued.”
TWU’s statement didn’t just accuse the MTA of planting the story. It also said the information contained in the story was inaccurate.
“Despite reports planted by the MTA in the media, only two wage proposals have been made. The MTA is ‘offering’ 0-0-0-2-2,” the statement said. “That is, a 5-yr contract with a 3-yr wage freeze and a 2% raise in the 4th and 5th year. These terms mirror the deal accepted by two big unions of NY state workers.”
Local 100’s contract with the MTA expired Monday making this the first time the TWU hasn’t had a contract since the infamous transit strike of 2005. Both sides agreed to keep talking after the deadline, but if either party declares an impasse the negotiations will head into binding arbitration. According to the TWU statement, “some progress” has been made on “departmental issues, but discussions of wages and health benefits still have a long way to go.”
“The MTA is clearly under pressure to railroad us into an agreement on their terms or, failing that, to force the contract into snap arbitration, cutting short the negotiating process. We are not going to be railroaded,” the TWU statement said. “We are committed to achieving a fair contract — one that exceeds the terms accepted by the state unions — at the negotiating table. But we are not going to sit still while management attempts to frame the negotiations in the press before they even take place. This is just a way to pressure us into unwarranted concessions.”
In another Daily News story, the MTA denied planting the Daily News story. TWU John Samuelsen aired his outrage about the MTA’s alleged communications with the press in a press conference of his own yesterday.
“That’s an outrage. It’s disingenuous,” Mr. Samuelsen said.
Despite their harsh words for the MTA, the TWU said they “look forward to returning to the bargaining table.”
“We want to make progress in the negotiations. That is why we halted talks on the 19th, and why we expect to resume talks in an improved atmosphere.”