As 2012 dawned, the day of reckoning for the MTA and TWU drew ever closer. In 12 days, the union’s current contract will expire, and John Samuelsen and Joe Lhota are working to forge a settlement. Still, the MTA’s fiscal reality requires a net-zero increase in labor costs or else the riders will have to pay. That is a point not lost on the editorial boards of the city’s newspapers.
Yesterday, the Daily News’ editors chimed in with their take on the labor situation. Noting that an arbitration panel recently determined that Long Island Bus workers will have to forego their expected three percent raises in 2011 since the MTA doesn’t have the money for it, the News called upon the TWU to take note and expect to give out concessions. “This is a time for tightened belts,” the editorial said. “Any and all raises will have to be bought with work rule changes and productivity gains.”
Over the last three years, as TWU members have enjoyed raises, the MTA has slashed its administrative payroll while freezing wages. It’s creating to something of a brain drain at MTAHQ, but that’s a problem for a different post. Now, it’s time for the TWU to show flexibility. As the News says to Samuelsen, “He should remember that the best interests of all concerned — taxpayers, riders and workers — are to keep the MTA as efficient as it can be.” That will be a key point over the next few weeks as the two sides work toward a deal.