Yesterday morning I blogged about the exclusive New York Daily News report which talked about transit workers being poised for healthy raises. The report was enough to spark a response from Mayor Bloomberg who yesterday afternoon, warned that riders will have to foot the bill for these raises. Frank Lombardi of the New York Daily News had more in this report:
Mayor Bloomberg sounded the alarm Monday about a looming arbitration deal that will give MTA workers 12% raises, warning that straphangers will end up footing the bill.
“The straphangers of today are going to pay for this increase if, in fact, the arbitration comes out that way,” the mayor said.
“I don’t see how the arbitrators can rule that way if they have to look at the ability to pay, because the straphangers don’t have the ability to pay more.”
The Daily News reported yesterday that an arbitration panel is about to grant raises totaling 12% over three years, at a cost of more than $400 million.
The mayor said the MTA made no provision for raises in the budget it passed three months ago, and such raises would put “a very big hole” in that budget.
The MTA hiked the basic transit fare by 12.5% at the end of June to $2.25 from $2.00, and Bloomberg warned more hikes could be in the cards.
Click here for the complete report.
Now fast forward to earlier today when an arbitration panel officially awarded the raises. This prompted an immediate response from interim MTA CEO/Executive Director Helena Williams who had this to say:
This afternoon the MTA received an arbitration award for TWU Local 100 that includes wage increases of more than 11 percent over three years (2009-2011). This award is extremely disappointing and fails to recognize the economic recession in the region and the impact of this downturn on the MTA. There will be a significant impact on the MTA’s bottom line. The award suggests that the MTA raid its underfunded capital program and rely on one-shot federal stimulus funds to pay for raises. As a further disappointment, the award also rolls back a portion of the employee health care contribution that the MTA won following the 2005 TWU strike. Over the three years of the contract, the award will cost the MTA approximately $350 million more than budgeted: $10 million in 2009, $100 million in 2010 and $240 million in 2011. As a result, the MTA staff will provide the MTA Board with recommendations for balancing the financial plan with the least possible impact on MTA customers. No additional fare increase will be recommended in 2009.
I must admit I am shocked at the lack of press this story is getting as a whole. When it comes to employee wages, the masses come out from all sides voicing pro or anti-worker sentiment. All I have seen so far is a couple of responses to the article I quoted above. The types of responses are what you would expect such as demanding an audit of the MTA for the millions it supposedly stole or whining about Bloomberg. It comes as no surprise to see such responses as the masses are generally clueless on transit policy & the overall reasons as to why the MTA is in the position it currently finds itself in. I will be following this story & seeing what (if any) responses come from it.