The Metropolitan Transportation Authority made an offer to the Transit Workers Union on Monday, hours after their previous contract expired Sunday night. However, the TWU is not willing to commit to anything just yet.
The TWU is seeking wage increases that reflect inflation rates. However, MTA Chief Joe Lhota was adamant that his agency cannot afford any more wage increases over the next three years, offering a five-year contract with a two percent raise the last two years.
Negations continued well into the night at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan and were set to continue Tuesday. However, the contract MTA presented does not accurately reflect the needs of the workers, according to the TWU.
I guess the reality is our official position is based on the weight of inflation and their position is the state pattern, Jim Gannon, the press secretary for the Transit Workers Union Local 100, told International Business Times. Although, wage increase is the obvious major issue, Gannon said there are a multitude of other issues going on.
Gannon said that health-care is still a major issue on the table during the negotiations. One of the most controversial demands, Gannon also said, is that the MTA is proposing part-time bus operators which present a real concern to the TWU.
He also noted that newly hired janitorial cleaners will not be entitled to the same pay rate, something that is the TWU is fighting to prevent.
The cleaner title tops out at about 25 bucks after three years, said Gannon. Their proposal is all newly hired cleaners would top out at 80 percent of the top rate.
The MTA is also looking for the unions to dramatically increase their health-care contributions and get five unpaid vacation-days a year. The MTA is also seeking to change the overtime pay structure. With the current system, the workers can put in for overtime after 8 hours a day. However, under the new plan, workers cannot put in for overtime until after 40 hours a week.
Gov. Cuomo said he has complete faith in Lhota to hammer out a deal. He told reporters that Lhota is very capable, saying I'll leave it to him, according to AM New York .
Cuomo also wants the TWU to acknowledge the difficult position the MTA is currently. It is an agency that is strapped for cash and needs to make deep cuts in order to survive. Cuomo cited other unions who, he said, acknowledged the tough financial climate and made sacrifices.
They are public servants and they stepped up to the plate and they did the right thing, Cuomo said of CSEA and PEF, according to AM New York. I think it is a powerful message and other unions should look at it and learn from it.
Unlike in 2005, the TWU has not threatened a mass strike. However, contract negotiations, Gannon said, are very difficult to navigate and he did not offer a timetable for the ongoing discussions.
We have committees and subcommittees negotiations all over the place, he said. It is a complicated process.