January 18, 2017
By Steven Wishnia
New York, NY – The city’s 38,000 subway and bus workers have reached a tentative contract deal that “provides wage increases which are significantly above inflation” and “includes many important negotiated economic sweeteners,” Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen announced Jan. 16.
The 28-month agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority includes an immediate 2.5% raise, another one in February 2018, and a $500 bonus in March 2019, two months before it expires, according to a term sheet provided by the TWU.
“This is a concession-free contract, a major accomplishment in this age of public-sector bargaining,” Samuelsen said in a message to members Jan. 17. The raises are above the 1.6% inflation rate, which had been one of the union’s main goals in negotiations. The two parties also agreed to “maintain the level of health benefits,” and the MTA will slightly increase its contribution to dental benefits. That increase will enable members’ children to stay on their coverage until they’re 26, the union said.
Local 100’s executive board endorsed the contract by a 37-6 vote Jan. 17. Ballots will go out to workers in the transit system’s 16 divisions next week, a union spokesperson told LaborPress, and it will take another two to three weeks for them to be returned, collected, and counted.
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast called the deal “responsive to the needs of the hard-working men and women in the TWU Local 100” and “an affordable agreement that can be accommodated within our financial plan” in a statement issued Jan. 16. The MTA had been offering 2% raises.
The “economic sweeteners” include for the first time, a uniform-cleaning allowance for station cleaners, and a clause reopening the contract if the Long Island Railroad gives any of its bargaining units a bigger raise. Bus operators who drive the double-length articulated “accordion buses” will get $1 an hour premium pay, up from the current 25 cents. Their base pay is $32.42 an hour.
Several other increases will begin next January. The night-shift differential will be raised by 5%. Longevity increases will go up by $250, from $200 to $450 and $500 to $750. Skilled bus maintainers will get an extra $500 a year instead of $320 and work eight ours a day instead of eight and a half.
The MTA also agreed to add at least 100 Local 100 members to its in-house construction team, and to prioritize building better facilities for women workers. And one side provision addresses a problem many workers complained about: The MTA and the union will try to find better work shoes than the current ones, which Samuelsen called “garbage boots” that “cause us excruciating pain” at a rally in November. If a new supply system hasn’t been set up by next January, workers will be eligible to be reimbursed $85 if they buy their own boots.
The union did not say how the contract addressed safety issues and getting better pensions for workers hired since 2012, which had been two of the main concerns expressed at the November rally.