A pair of articles concerning the TWU and its touchy relationship with the MTA caught my attention yesterday. First, NY1 reported on a small labor protest involving health care. Allegedly, the MTA has violated its contract by cutting some union members’ health care benefits, and the TWU has filed a protest. “There are issues with prescriptions, issues with hospital stays. There is an across the board effort by the MTA to nickel and dime transit workers to death,” TWU President John Samuelsen said. “If they attack our benefits, we’re gonna attack back.”
The Daily News too covered what they termed a “flash mob” protest. According to Pete Donohue’s coverage, Monday’s mini-protest was the first in a concerted attempt to bring “unorthodox and unexpected” to the MTA. “This fight starts now,” Samuelsen said.
For its part, the MTA struck a somewhat conciliatory tone. “We look forward to sitting at the bargaining table to negotiate, in good faith, a new collective bargaining agreement with TWU Local 100,” the MTA said. The problem is one of timing: The MTA cannot fight a political fight for capital dollars while negotiating with the union while waiting for and adjusting to a new CEO and Chairman. They could use a union willing to hold back until everything else is settled, but that seems like an unlikely outcome right now. The fall will be an interesting one indeed.