When the TWU accused the MTA of “negotiating through the media,” union leaders staged a public walk-out from the negotiations and refused to sit down with their authority counterparts for two weeks. Today, as talks were due to start up again, the authority had a chance to respond to union press leaks, and respond they did.
The New York Post reported this morning that the TWU had “won” a key concession from the MTA. Subway drivers may receive three days off following any incident, fatal or not, in which their train strikes a person. Furthermore, conductors could get time off if they observe someone fall between cars or slip between the subway and platform edge. In the past, conductors did not receive such time off, and drivers had to be behind the wheel of a fatal accident to qualify. “Protecting conductors and operators from these horrible incidents underground was one of the main goals,” The Post’s source said.
As TWU President John Samuelsen reacted to an MTA leak, so too did the authority react to a TWU leak. “It is the MTA’s policy not to negotiate through the press,” MTA Chairman Joe Lhota responded in turn. “However, we will not allow inaccurate or leaked statements regarding negotiations to stand as fact. Today’s New York Post story is harmful to the collective bargaining process.” It is unclear if The Post report is accurate or what the TWU may give up in return for these protections, and despite the tense war of words over media reports, sources confirm to me that neither party anticipates a strike even if a deal is not yet on the horizon.