New York transit worker union contract expires, but negotiations continue

The contract for 34,000 New York City transit workers expired on midnight on Sunday, but union officials said they had no plans to call a strike and would continue negotiating this week, the Associated Press reported.

Talks about station worker issues were held today, and Transport Workers Union Local 100 officials planned to resume negotiations with the Metropolitan Transit Authority on the main contract issues on Tuesday, TWU Spokesman Jim Gannon told the AP.

According to Crain’s New York Business:

The MTA's new president, Joseph Lhota, is proposing a five-year deal that includes a wage freeze the first three years and modest increases the next two. That follows a pattern negotiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year with the two largest unions of state workers.

TWU President John Samuelsen wants cost-of-living increases pegged to inflation each year, Crain’s reported.

There are also other aspects of the proposed contract that the union does not like, including proposed increases in worker health care contributions and five unpaid furlough days that must be taken instead of vacation, Crain’s reported.

The MTA has agreed to some union requests, sources told the New York Daily News. The MTA will improve the bathroom facilities for female subway workers and install 400 bus partitions a year to prevent incidents like the December 2008 stabbing death of bus driver Edwin Thomas.

On Sunday night, an estimated 800 workers held a rally outside the negotiations at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown, New York Observer blog PolitickerNY reported. TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen addressed the crowd during a break from the talks.

“I’ve been bargaining for the better part of the last 48 hours,” he said, according to PolitickerNY. “I’m going to go back into that hotel and I’m going to tell the chairman of the MTA, I’m going to tell the governor to take their petty demands and shove it.”

In the past, the union has been willing to strike over its demands. In December 2005, transit workers stranded millions of New York City commuters when they shut down public transportation for three days over contract issues, the AP reported.

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