Link: Lhota goes public with union demands


As the MTA and TWU enter month six since their previous contract expired, negotiations have been awfully silent for a while. MTA Chairman Joe Lhota brough that out in the open today though with a forcefully worded piece in the pages of The Post today in which he calls upon the TWU to make some sacrifices. After years of streamlining operations, he writes, it’s time for the TWU to give back as well.


It’s not yet common knowledge, but the agency is in an era of cost-containment and -control unlike anything in its history — as even a quick glance at the MTA’s financial statement reveals. Annual expense reductions in the operating budget — that is, savings that recur year after year — totaled about $700 million in 2011 and will grow to $890 million in 2015. That’s 11 percent of our discretionary operating budget.

How did we do it? We eliminated more than 3,500 positions, including 20 percent of our headquarters staff. We renegotiated vendor contracts. We froze wages for all non-union employees. We rebid employee health care. We reduced unnecessary overtime and consolidated redundant functions. The list goes on and on . . . and this work is far from over. In 2012 and beyond, we’ll continue to slash costs while looking for creative ways to bring in revenue…

All the while — during a time of unprecedented cost-cutting at the MTA, and as our nondiscretionary costs spiral out of control — binding arbitration has required that members of our largest labor union get pay hikes of 4 percent in 2009, 4 percent in 2010 and 3 percent in 2011. That’s a whopping 11 percent over the last three years, at a time when New York City’s cost-of-living index rose 4.6 percent.

Managers and non-union workers haven’t been so lucky. They got 0 percent in 2009, 0 percent in 2010 and 0 percent in 2011. Today, these public servants have gone four years without so much as a cost-of-living increase. That’s why the MTA is asking its unionized workforce, during its current contract talks, to forego raises for the next three years.

Labor, writes Lhota, should be “a part of the solution.”

On Twitter, TWU Local 100 called Lhota’s piece “outrageous” but didn’t offer up much more. I’m not surprised they don’t see eye-to-eye with the Chairman, but he makes a very compelling case indeed. At a time when non-unionized workers haven’t seen a raise in nearly half a decade and the MTA is clearly at risk of a brain drain of talented workers, everyone has to pay somehow.

Categories : TWU

27 Responses to “Link: Lhota goes public with union demands”

  1. R. Graham says:

    Exactly my problem with the TWU these last few years. They don’t budge on anything.

  2. Deb Parise says:

    Does the MTA run Metro-north? Get rid of the cozy spots of those who do no work.

  3. Chet says:

    Lhota has a point.

    I’m a NYC public school teacher. My last raise was in May 2008 and our contract expired in October 2009, and no one expects anything to happen until Bloomberg leaves office.

  4. alen says:

    OMG, what if they go on strike again? oh well, i’ll just VPN into work. worst case i’ll have to drive into manhattan once or twice

  5. Al D says:

    While I am not in favor of any increase for the TWU for the same cost containment reasons, I find the Lhota statement lacking. He forgot to mention that the binding arbitration enforced what the MTA had previously agreed to in good faith, and good faith represents the basis of all the commercial aspects of contractual negotiations and particularly when the relationship bewteen the parties is ongoing. So now that the TWU has no faith that the MTA will honor any of its commitments agreed to at the bargaining table without some form of subsequent legal enforcement, why should the TWU negotiate for anything except what they feel is the maximum to ask for?

    • nycpat says:

      This is very true. Any concessions by the TWU will be met by demands for more concessions. I think there won’t be a contract for many years. MNRR went 10 years w/out a contract.

  6. Duke says:

    Let’s not forget that thanks to inflation a “wage freeze” is actually a pay cut. And of course only the non-union employees are subject to it. Typical – spoil the members of the special club and stiff anyone who’s not in it. Whether an individual actually deserves a raise on merit is irrelevant.

    • al says:

      Don’t you get a raise if you get a promotion? A person is promoted, leaves, or retires and another person is promoted. That person should get a raise to (at least) partially close the gap between the old position and new position.

  7. Billy G says:

    The answer is simple. Raise fares and raise salaries across the board.

    In fact, give the non-union employees a full COLA adjustment immediately.

    Stop trying to hold the kettle lid down. Prices are going to go up and keep going up across the board. Holding salaries down is simply going to drive competent staff away.

  8. Spendmore Wastemore says:

    How ’bout ditching work rules which are designed to inflate the number of people needed to run operations. That’s at least 10% right there, then automate the shuttles, there’s another bite.

    • al says:

      Automation is partially possible on the 42nd st Shuttle. The others share tracks with other lines. Until the entire system is resignaled and the railcar fleet refitted for CBTC and ATO, the trains will require the present crews. As for OPTO, they can work during off hrs. However, during peak hr, you need the personnel to keep dwell time down.

      • Alon Levy says:

        Depending on what equipment is used, specifically if the cabs are full-width or half-width, the second person isn’t that needed.

        • nycpat says:

          The platforms and structural beams at Times Square would have to be reconfigured at considerable expense. Then the plan is to have two 5-car tech trains running automatically, with a T/O in front. They just don’t have the money to do it. Also they don’t want to mess with the Shuttle untill eastsideaccess is complete.
          Go to Times Square and look at those curved platforms. Look at the people running for the trains. I have worked the shuttle and you need someone to observe the platform as the train leaves. This is so they can pull the break as people fall into the gap between the platform and the train.

          • Alon Levy says:

            Sorry, to clarify, I wasn’t talking about the shuttle, but on the other routes.

            Were these problems with people falling there when the shuttle was automated?

            • nycpat says:

              Only tk 4 was automated with a motorman or C/r in the front cab. There was also a platform C/r to close off the track at departure time. You can still see the railings used for this purpose. Of course things are a lot different now than in the late 50s early 60s. People don’t stay to the right anymore nor would they take direction from a transit worker without an argument.

  9. mike d. says:

    MTA management consolidation…. that is were is jackpot.

    Meanwhile, Jay Walder in Hong Kong is screwing over there with dumb fare hike. K.O.

  10. normative says:

    The twu pay raises and how the mta is run is specific issue that would require a specific analysis. However, I want to point out something that is something approaching a fallacy that I see used in arguments all the time.
    Saying that non-unionized employees didn’t see a pay raise and therefore unionized employees should not get a pay raise is very poor argument. Non-unionized employees rarely get raises, usually only through legislation. They are disorganized, have little clout, and are vulnerable to pressure of job loss—all this against a huge organization. Workers unionize in order to gain all the lacks that non-unionized employees are stuck with. Drawing parity between two different organizations, one of which is inherently weaker, and then claiming that the stronger organization should follow the weaker organization actions JUST because the weaker organization accepted weaker conclusions—the expected result of how the game is configured—is a poor argument. I see it all the time.

  11. Larry Littlefield says:

    “On Twitter, TWU Local 100 called Lhota’s piece “outrageous” but didn’t offer up much more.”

    And that’s outrageous. As someone who will be faced with the consequences of any deals that are cut, I’m not pleased with the tradition of politicians and unions cutting deals in secret. The public is paying, so the negotiations SHOULD BE in public.

    I want to see the TWU response. And I want to see specific proposals by both sides. I want to see all the information both side submit to arbitrators.

  12. Matthias says:

    The TWU needs to do their fair share. I would like to see merit-based pay rather than a membership-based pay structure.

    • AC says:

      come on people, without a 20% pay raise the MTA workers will be kicked out of the middle class. it’s like management is taking money out of their pockets. imagine the horror if they had to pay a co-pay when they go to the doctor

    • Deb Parise says:

      As long as you have oversight of the process; else that will only obtain favoritism.

  13. Martha says:

    Fire 3500 more people .

    Service is awful ,

    token clerks don’t do anything and always respond with surly attitudes




  14. Greg says:

    Fire your dumb ass

  15. Nick says:

    Lhota fails to mention that nearly 75% of management added the word “Deputy” to their bloated titles, which entitles them to a bump in pay to the tune of an average of about 10K / year. It’s time for the State to conduct an internal audit on management. You would then see the truth.

  16. Nick says:

    Lhota earns a cool 350K / year plus housing expences to push him to around 400K. NOT BAD. Sacrifice some of your salary!!!

    • That is the single dumbest TWU brainwash argument ever. Ever. Think about it critically for a minute.

      • Hank says:

        Ben, as a fan of organized labor (hey they brought us the weekend!), I am sad to say that this type of logic underpins much of their recent salary positions. The irrational desire for salary increases in a time of austerity essentially erodes their public support, leaving them with little political capital for when they really need it. Sadly, the TWU’s reaction is to say “anyone who earns more than us gets special treatment, so we want special treatment too!” Illogical at best, self-destructive at worst.

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