CONTRACT BULLETIN #7
REASONS TO VOTE "NO" ON THIS CONTRACT!
By Marty Goodman, TWU Local 100 Executive Board member January 11, 2006
1. WAGES: We struck for this? Hell no! The MTA has over a $1 billion surplus. Our raise is just 10.5% over 37 months, not 3 years. Plus, there's a 1.5% health care deduction on wages, including OT, with no cap. Actual increases during the contract will be about 9%, less if deductions go up. Expenses are up 3.7% this year alone. The fines the union did not fight will leave us even further behind inflation. Our last contract contained a 0%, 3%, and 3% raise during which inflation went up 9.5%. Union staffers can afford this crap.....we can't!
2. HEALTH CARE DEDUCTION: Toussaint said, "No givebacks." Well, this is a huge giveback because medical costs are skyrocketing. According to the MTA's preliminary budget health costs rose 12.9% in 2005. Nationwide, management is trying to radically shift health care expenses onto workers. The MTA got its' wish. "The New York Times" (Jan. 2) revealed that the MTA's proposal for new hires to pay 6% toward pensions would had saved them $20 million. But, the health care deduction in the final proposal will save them $32 million in the first year alone and $100 million over the life of the contract! Michael "The thug" Bloomberg, who has praised this contract, will try to do the same to all city unions, just like he did with our "first year zero" in 2002. (See box at bottom)
3. NEW EXPIRATION DATE: Is this the mother of all givebacks? It was estimated that a strike costs the city $1.6 billion per week. New Yorkers and tourists spend hundreds of extra millions during Christmas and New Years. Our power is enormous. Changing the expiration date from Dec 15th to Jan. 15th will cost us untold millions in future leverage. Its' deadly. Toussaint said that the expiration date change financed the 25/55 refund and other good, if inadequate, disbursements. But, it's a one-shot deal. Bloomberg and the MTA are delighted to move our expiration date past the holidays. Once we lose the expiration date, it ain't coming back. Lets' hold on to our strongest weapon!
4. "DIGNITY AND RESPECT": We fought long and hard to stop the MTA's "plantation justice." But, in 2004, write-ups increased to 15,200, about half of all Local 100 members. Where's the "dignity and respect" we were promised? This contract only provides for a "Committee to Review Disciplinary Process." Another TWU/MTA committee will not accomplish much. Our strike, if it had continued until victory, could have imposed real discipline reform. During this contract, how much money will they suck out of us in write-ups? How many jobs? Add THAT amount to our wage deductions!
5. RETIREE BENEFITS: This contract does not provide "lifetime benefits" as Toussaint would have you believe. It will however allow members under 62 to retire and receive benefits outside of New York and parts of Florida. Also, deductibles for drugs will be waived for retirees under 62. All good, but paid in part by a 1.5% health care deduction, just the beginning. A better, longer strike could have won it without giveback deductions.
6. 25/55 PENSION REFUND: Toussaint has told the membership that the MTA agreed to give us the 25/55 refund in exchange for changing the contract expiration date a month past the holidays. Essentially, our own money ≠ money we earned - is being used to sell us a giveback contract! The secret side-agreement was hidden from the Local 100 Executive Board during its' vote on the contract. Now, Pataki says he'll veto the refund. If the MTA issues it, cash withdrawals will be heavily taxed like the 2002 "chump sum." Only about 49% of the membership can get it. Whatever happens, a better strike could have won the 25/55 pension refund.......without this massive giveback.
7. "THE NO LAYOFF CLAUSE": Still missing in action since it was removed from our 2002 contract. This 1996
provision wasn't a guarantee against layoffs but provided a useful barrier to layoffs for municipal unions that had it
in their contract like DC 37. When their contract expired, layoffs followed. Local 100 faces rapid downsizing, due
mainly to automation. Layoff threats may reappear, especially at contract time, to get us to back off on our demands.
8. THE STRIKE: If this is all we get after a strike and a $1 billion plus surplus, then what will it be like when the
MTA cries poverty? We must reject this contract and send Ćem back to the table. Don't fall for Toussaint's scare
tactics about arbitration. Rejecting the contract doesn't mean automatic arbitration or an automatic strike. It
means sending them back to the table to renegotiate. Meanwhile, we can use the time to get better organized and
prepare for another strike if that becomes necessary.
In 1992, a contract was rejected by the membership, sending the TWU and the MTA back to the table. A slightly
better contract was finally approved by the membership ≠ but that was not following a strike like today. The
Authority now knows that transit workers mean business and are willing to go out to defend their futures. The MTA
is much more likely to grant concessions this time around if we turn down this sellout contract.
"THE NY POST" EDITORIAL JAN. 6: The racist, anti-union "NY Post" backs the MTA/TWU contract. "Now is not the time to lose sight of the groundbreaking nature of the contract itself: For the first time, transit workers will be paying for a portion of their health-care insurance, and.....the MTA will net millions of up-front dollars from the deal. Transit workers will kick in much more money for health coverage than they stand to get from pension rebates."
"Indeed, the health-insurance payments will continue ≠ and grow ≠ over time, while the pension givebacks are a one-shot deal.....Further, the health-care contributions are a benchmark concession that city and state labor negotiators can use in future deliberations with public-employee unions."
"THE CHIEF" EDITORIAL JAN. 6: "added up, the deal's components amount to a bunch of small if significant gains for Local 100 members, and a new responsibility for health - care premiums. That is the one breakthrough in the package, and it goes in the MTA column."
"THE NEW YORK TIMES" DEC. 31: "In a memo to its governing board.....the authority argued that the settlement would increase its' labor costs by a total of $400.1 million over the next three years ≠ about 16% LESS than the projected $477 million cost of its final offer before the strike." (my emphasis)