Home Asides Courting controversy as TWU/MTA talks begin

Courting controversy as TWU/MTA talks begin

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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Andrew Smith February 2, 2012 - 5:32 pm

I find it odd that this anyone has described this as a major point of negotiations. Does anyone know how frequently someone gets hit by a train or falls on the tracks within sight of a train operator? It seems like something most train operators would never experience in an entire career.

Bolwerk February 3, 2012 - 8:03 am

I don’t know how often it happens, but you hear about it in the press a few times a year. I think in almost all cases when someone gets hit by a train the operator will see it. The laws of physics pretty much guarantee doing anything about it is futile too. And the results are probably very often gruesome, so I can see why it would be traumatizing.

So, I dunno, maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but in a span of a 20-year career I would guess having that happen isn’t too unlikely.

nycpat February 2, 2012 - 5:54 pm

50 people killed last year; thats at least 150 days off. 38 serious but nonfatal impacts. 100+ other impacts. Roughly 4,000 Train Operators; not all of whom work in passenger service/revenue trains.

Donald February 2, 2012 - 7:11 pm

Don’t train operators already get time off since, before they can operate again, they have to go for a drug test and there has to be an investigation conducted?

nycpat February 2, 2012 - 7:44 pm

They get 3 days off only for a fatality. If there is an investigation then they are assigned as platform C/rs until they are OKed for passenger service.

Bolwerk February 3, 2012 - 8:20 am

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.

Delusional theatrics like this should infuriate people, including TWU members. It’s pretty much two more weeks of wasting everyone’s time for nothing – even if we don’t get a sane outcome, one where significant waste is eliminated, it’s a wasteful, obnoxious, selfish distraction.

Larry Littlefield February 3, 2012 - 9:25 am

Again, I want to see all the evidence — what each worker earns, what the benefits are, how that compares with private sector workers, what the last contract was, etc.

“Not negotiating in the press” sounds to me like the insiders making a deal among themselves, then making the serfs pay for it. I don’t get the feeling that the TWU is interested in making a “social justice” argument in public, because the facts wouldn’t support their case.


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