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Transit Union Board OKs Deal

Newsday

The executive board of the transit system’s main union overwhelmingly approved a contract deal Tuesday night that would raise workers’ wages 10.5% over three years. The proposed pact included no pension concessions, but for the first time, employees would pay a portion of their health insurance.

The agreement, if ratified by the rank and file, would end the worst labor crisis at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 25 years -- one that led Transport Workers Union Local 100 to strike for three days last week.

The union’s 33,700 members will vote by mail on whether to ratify the deal, which was approved 37 to 4 by the executive board, with one abstention.

The pact included proposed annual raises of 3%, 4% and 3.5% -- the MTA’s pre-strike “final offer” -- but without a major pension concession on which the offer had hinged.

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However, city bus and subway employees will have to pay 1.5% of their wages in health benefits, through a first-ever premium.

According to New York state budget documents, the MTA in July set aside funds for a wage and fringe benefit increase at the regional inflation rate. That was calculated at 2.9% per year.

This could come close to the final rate when the health insurance concession is taken into account. But sources close to both sides cautioned that the cost of fines for the strike and other factors such as work rules, deployment and other possible improvements for the workers had yet to be spelled out.

The executive board convened shortly after 9 p.m., and union local President Roger Toussaint made the announcement about the pact in a three-minute statement at the union’s West Side headquarters about two hours later.

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“We extend thanks to our riders and to our members for the support that they have received in the last couple of weeks of difficulty,” Toussaint said.

He said members also would get Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday and receive paid maternity leave for the first time.

Public employee strikes are barred under state law, which carries a fine of two days’ pay for each day off the job as well as millions of dollars in fines for the union.

Toussaint has faced dissent within the executive board over concessions.

On Tuesday, John Mooney, a member of the executive board who was opposed to ending the strike, attended the meeting but said he did not vote. He said after the announcement that he was pleased about one thing: that retirees would keep their health insurance.


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