Aug
13

Union blames MTA for potential fare increases

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As July came to a close two weeks ago, the MTA released a bit of good budgetary news. According to their early projections, the agency would require no fare hikes to keep their books in order for 2010. Considering the back-to-back fare increases over the last two years, this announcement was a good one indeed.

As this week has unfolded with news of an arbitrator-awarded pay increase for New York City Transit’s TWU workers, the MTA has backtracked on that promise. As Newsday reports today, this increase — four percent in both 2010 and 2011 and three percent in 2012 — may may require future fare hikes as the MTA looks to cover an unexpected gap of $350-$400 million.

For most New York straphangers — myself included — the initial reaction was one of outrage. How could the arbitrator, in bad economic times, be so blind to the MTA’s fiscal reality? How could the TWU be so callous in its hunt for higher wages? We pointed fingers firmly at organized labor.

But after a series of conversations I’ve had with union officials over the last 24 hours, I have to reassess my position. In this case, I have come to believe that the TWU is not to blame for any future fare hikes the MTA may have to enact in 2010 to cover these unexpected labor expenditures. Rather, poor planning, even in the face of an impending increase, has yet again put the MTA in a hole.

According to union spokesmen and leaders, this whole arbitration process went something like this: Last year, after the economic downtown, the city of New York guaranteed raises of four percent to many unions, including teachers, sanitation and corrections workers. As the MTA and the TWU headed toward arbitration and as the process continued, TWU officials and their MTA counterparts seemed to recognized that a four-percent wage increase for 2010 would not be out of the ordinary.

Now, generally, faced with this reality, an agency would budget in enough money to cover any potential increase. Therefore, when the MTA released its preliminary 2010 budget two weeks ago, it should have factored in wage increases of four percent for its workers. Instead — and inexplicably — the MTA assumed it would have to dole out increases of just over 1.5 percent to its workers. According to TWU officials privy to the arbitration process, when the end of July rolled out, it was clear that the MTA would most likely be on the hook for that four percent increase next year.

So where does this leave us? As the finger-pointing continues on into the week, it appears as though any potential fare increase in 2010 due to rising labor costs would come about because the MTA did not adequately prepare its budget. Maybe this happened because MTA officials were overly confident of the arbitration outcomes. After all, that attitude has seemingly killed one-person train operations for now. Maybe the MTA was truly blind-sided by the arbitration result. Either way, I no longer feel it is fair to blame the TWU for this turn of events. This one may very well be on the MTA — and our wallets.



Categories : TWU

22 Responses to “Union blames MTA for potential fare increases”

  1. rhywun says:

    So let me get this straight. Because teachers and other city workers somehow managed to wrangle a 4-percent raise out of a city council that’s thoroughly in their pocket and a mayor who’ll promise anything to get re-elected to a voter-unapproved third term, somehow that means everyone should have known that MTA workers would get the same raise? Maybe that is the political reality–and that’s the problem. Maybe the voters should take the blame for repeatedly electing financially reckless city politicians year after year. Well, we’re sure paying for it now.

    • Marty says:

      Is absolutely amazing and incredible that the riders fall for the lies coming from the multi billionaire of Bloomie and their cronies in the media. We will immediately will blame the union for asking for a raise. Not only are they are ready to bail-out the culprits and the fabricators of this economic turmoil, but they will defend them and attack the workers that are only asking for a raise to their wages. The trend continues, everything keeps going up in price but wages keeps staying the same. When a group of workers that perform an essential job for this city to functionis ask for araise, we should be glad that we are demanding a fare deal from this corporations and entities to compensate the workers for a job well done.

  2. Peter says:

    That hundred million that Forest City Ratner originally promised to pay for Atlantic Yards would sure come in handy about now….

  3. R2 says:

    So it all boils down to Bloomberg. Those campaign ads of his about mass transit just got funnier … oh wait, IT ISN’T because we’re all going to pay for it!

  4. TC says:

    Ben, don’t let your liberal mores get in the way of your first (correct) instincts. Of course it’s fair to blame the TWU for the fare increases. They’re the ones who went to arbitration to get a fare hike “similar to other city employees”, right? Never mind that as many others have pointed out, they are NOT like other city employees.

    However, they’re clearly not the only ones who deserve blame. The arbitration board is obviously insane (using the capital budget/federal stimulus to fund the raises?) The MTA also deserves blame for not planning for a very foreseeable worst-case scenario. The mayor deserves blame for awarding unreasonable raises to the other city employees in the first place (it’s not like the recession just started this year). This governor (as well as the previous two) deserves blame for not having any serious long-term (>5 year) vision for the MTA, much less putting in place the leadership and board members who could carry it out.

    This just goes to show, once again, that the best solution at this point would be to privatize the MTA, get all the idiot politicians out of the way of decision-making, allow them to raise fares as high as necessary to make a profit, fire all the workers who don’t do their jobs (and hire workers who will), and then subsidize the RIDERS who depend on transport with reduced-rate Metrocards or tax breaks.

    • Alon Levy says:

      Privatization didn’t work for the London Underground. Why will it work for the MTA?

    • David says:

      This person should have a labotomy due to their idiot comments of always blaming the workers who make all the rules (wink) and creates the budgets that go overboard (wink, again) not by a small margin, but by hundreds of millions of dollars who have to be paid by the taxpayers (working class people) this will include the workers who are vying for a raise….. YOU MY FRIEND ARE A DAMN IDIOT>>>>>STAY OFF THE DRUGS…..

  5. abba says:

    Would it be possible for Albany to bailout the MTA again for the fare hike in 2010?

  6. Tony says:

    The fact that the MTA didn’t plan for any kind of realistic arbitration ruling is further proof of it’s gross mismanagement. They should have planned for the worst case sceniario and hoped for the best case scenario that’s usually the way arbitration is handled.

  7. IanM says:

    That logic is absolutely baffling. The TWU is screwing the MTA, but it’s the MTA’s fault that they’ll have to raise fares because as a result because they didn’t plan on getting screwed? In what way does this excuse the TWU’s ill-timed, self-serving hunt for higher wages?

    • David says:

      IanM

      Both of your parents must be related due to the stupid comment that you made. The MTA and all the elected Politicans who run this city are all corrupt and blame the workers who do a great job in running the services in this city, with no help from them.

  8. Peter says:

    Re: TC’s comment, “Privatize the MTA…”

    YES! Base Fare: $9.00 w/Two Drink Minimum.

  9. oscar says:

    wow what a BS argument

    blame the MTA for not predicting that the TWU would be awarded a ridiculous pay increase?

    The TWU deserves the raise because other unions (wrongfully) got similar ones?

    And what about reduced contributions for healthcare. How are you gonna spin that nonsense?

    Your original reaction was the correct one. Don’t slip.

    • David says:

      Once again it seems that someone is busy smoking dope based upon thei comments. The MTA should be reeled in as the incompetent morons that they are…..

  10. Larry Littlefield says:

    Lets have some honest here. The TWU point of view is that knowing it would have to match the raises for other city workers, the MTA should have increased fares more and cut service. That’s what poor planning means.

    Fine. Here is some more good planning. The MTA should be setting aside enough money to cover the earned cost of retiree health care, assuming health care inflation at the current rate.

    And it should be setting aside enough money to guarantee its pensions are paid no matter what happens to the city and country. That means a historically reasonable assumption of 3.0% more than inflation rate on pension investments from current levels (or less) not 8.0% plus as is currently assumed.

    And it should be paying for ongoing normal replacement out of current revenues.

    Put those assumptions in, and raise fares, raise taxes and cut (no, eliminate) transit services to the point where younger generations and those looking to locate businesses will know what their future will be if they stay or move here. Let it happen now. Lets see what the future is.

  11. Nathanael says:

    4% wage increases?!?!?

    What’s going on, has the TWU not had a raise for ten years or something? (Like the teachers?)

    Currently we’re experiencing *deflation*. You can maintain your standard of living with *no wage increase*.

    However, on another topic, the MTA withdrew its OPTO proposal?!? Are they crazy? That was worth quite a lot of other concessions to the union if they could get it through. Two-person train operations are featherbedding plain and simple in a modern transit system.

    On yet another point, it looks like this all would go much better, with more MTA money and a happier union, if the US Congress would pass MEDICARE FOR ALL, taking the health insurance costs off of both the MTA and the employees.

  12. you're kidding me says:

    MTA workers doing a good job? For everybody saying this…are you guys blind? Or too busy sleeping on the subway? The only unionized MTA workers who do a good job are the train operators, everybody else has no idea what the hell is going on 50% of the time, and don’t care 100% of the time, to them this is just a way to pay the bills from which they have little chance of getting fire in the event of a screwup, which is why even though we have one of the oldest and most extensive systems in the world, we also have one of the worst.

    So, the idea that the workers deserve a raise because they work hard is a moot point. So…why else should they get a raise? Can you think of anything? Neither can I.

    Bear in mind, most of these workers are high school dropouts who somehow earn the same wages and have more job security, that’s right, MORE than a lot of teachers. Anybody want to tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

    And all this isn’t even taking into account this crucial question: why did we ever allow people who control the lifeline of the city to unionize? Why did we ever give them this much power over the livelihood of the entire city? Considering their level of intelligence and level of greed (not to mention lack of consideration for the rest of the city), it’s like giving the key to the treasury to a scam artist.

  13. Wrench says:

    I CANT BELIEVE ALL THE CRAP ABOUT WHATS GOING ON BECAUSE THE TWU GOT A RAISE. STOP THE SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY LET ALL OF THOSE UNION WORKERS GET LAID OFF. THE TWU HAS ALREADY BEEN SHAFTED TIME AND TIME AGAIN, IT SEEMS THAT EVERYTIME A CONTRACT IS DUE THEY HAVE NO MONEY AND THE UNION GETS SHAFTED. THE WORKERS WHO DO THERE JOBS TO KEEP THIS GREAT BUT POOR CITY ROLLING THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO BUY MILK TOO. THEY ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM ANYONE ELSE WHO HAS BEEN WORKING AND DESERVE A FARE RAISE IN PAY TO HELP MAKE ENDS MEET. IF POOR PLANNING IS SUCH AN ISSUE THAN TAKE THAT UP WITH THE MTA. THEY SEEM TO BE VERY TOP HEAVY TO GIVE OUT FAT CONTRACTS WHEN EVER THEY CAN TO STICK IT TO THE UNIONS THAT KEEP NEW YORK CITY ROLLING. HOW MUCH HAS THE MTA GIVEN AWAY TO CONTRACTORS FOR WORK THAT CAN BE DONE IN HOUSE THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS. BLOOMIES SHOULD EITHER PUT UP OR SHUT UP HE AND HIS BILLIONS ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING FOR ANYONE BUT BLOOMIE YOU HAVE IT SO GOOD (BAIL OUT THE CITY)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] get too comfortable with the current subway cost. Fare increases are planned for 2010. [Second Ave. [...]

  2. [...] The mud is already flying just days after an arbitration panel handed down its ruling on the contract negotiations between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Transport Workers Union Local 100 (pdf). [...]

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