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NYC transit union board OKs new contract

The executive board for New York City's transit workers union approved a tentative new contract late Tuesday.
Commuters Return To Mass Transit After Three Day Strike
Passengers board a bus on Friday in New York City after a three-day transit strike ended. On Tuesday, the transit workers and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were reported to be near agreement on a new contract.Daniel Barry / Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A tentative contract for transit workers reached after a three-day strike stopped the city’s buses and subways is heading to union members for final approval.

The executive board of the Transport Workers Union approved the tentative deal 37-4 Tuesday night, clearing the way for the union’s 33,700 members to cast their votes.

The deal, announced late Tuesday by union President Roger Toussaint, requires workers to contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries toward their health care premiums. The union previously paid no health care premiums.

Pay would increase by 10.9 percent over three years. It does not require new employees to contribute more to their pensions, which had been a sticking point in negotiations.

“I apologize to the public that we went on strike, but overall we got what we wanted,” said shop steward James Rodriguez.

The union’s general membership will vote on the contract using mail-in ballots distributed this week.

Mayor thanks New Yorkers
Toussaint said the contract provided “for a host of other provisions that will go a long way to help in improving the relations” between transit workers and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauded both sides for hammering out the agreement and thanked New Yorkers “for their patience and cooperation during a very difficult three days.”

The tentative contract “provides the necessary cost-savings and productivity to keep the MTA solvent, mitigate fare increases and allow for vital investments in our transportation infrastructure,” Bloomberg said.

The contract also would establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday and provide paid maternity leave for workers, who previously had to use sick leave. It also would not raise the retirement age for new hires from 55.

The MTA is a state agency, and the city had no role in the negotiations. A spokesman for Gov. George Pataki declined to comment on the deal.

The union’s contract expired Dec. 16. Union leaders called the strike Dec. 20 when talks became deadlocked over wages, pension and health care benefits. Transit workers returned to work without a contract three days later.

The shutdown of the nation’s largest public transit system forced millions of daily subway and bus riders to walk, bike or squeeze aboard packed commuter train lines in the freezing cold to get around the city at the height of the holiday shopping season.

The mayor said over the weekend that businesses lost $1 billion in revenue over the strike and that the city lost tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and overtime expenses.