Home Transit LaborTWU TWU, MTA square off over pay for Sandy days

TWU, MTA square off over pay for Sandy days

by Benjamin Kabak

As the region’s transit network struggles to regain its footing now ten days after Sandy swept through the area, the MTA and TWU are squaring off over employee pay for the hurricane days. With the transit network down last week, few New Yorkers could get to work, according to a missing from TWU President John Samuelsen, the MTA promised to pay workers who could not get to their jobs on October 29 and 30. Now though, Samuelsen alleges that the MTA is reneging on its deal.

In a statement, the TWU head had some harsh words for his Transit counterparts.

Today the MTA reneged on the agreement they made with TWU Local 100. They have thoroughly demonstrated that their word means nothing, and that they do not know the meaning of good faith.

In some departments, we were outright told to stay home with pay for Monday and Tuesday. We were not given the option of coming into work. In every department, we were prevented from getting into work because of the decision of the Governor to shut the system down. The decision was not ours and we should not have to bear the cost.

By this decision, management shows what they truly think of the round the clock effort we have made to get the bus and subway system back running after Hurricane Sandy. They show how little respect they have for their workforce. During the hurricane, and then during the mammoth effort to restore service, the MTA praised local 100 for the incredibly difficult work we performed. But actions speak louder than words, and we must never forget this assault on our paychecks. Every worker at the TA, OA and MTA Bus should remember this when asked to make an extra effort “for the good of the service”. Unfortunately, the MTA does not deserve our “extra effort”.

New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast though had a different take on the matter. Transit has promised to pay everyone who came to work and those who could not as long as the latter group phoned in to explain their absence. In the much the same way that you or I must call my supervisors if I can’t make it to work, so too did Transit expect their workers to do. “If someone never called in, never let us know what they were going to do, and never came into work, we’re not going to pay them,” Prendergast said to The Daily News. Transit officials do not want to set a precedent of paying workers who “shirk[ed] their responsibilities” during the storm because it could lead future employees to do the same during the next emergency.

Don’t forget: It’s now been nearly 11 full months since the last TWU contract expired, and labor negotiations have no been progressing quickly or steadily. This is but the latest salvo in a key battle over the MTA’s short- and long-term budgetary future.

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Leroy November 8, 2012 - 3:13 pm

If the MTA workers would be in the private sector they would be getting bonuses for their speedy work clearing the tunnels.

Phantom November 8, 2012 - 4:13 pm


I am a frequent critic of public unions, and I agree with this.

They are doing great work. Treat ’em right.

Nathanael November 8, 2012 - 8:34 pm

The ones who showed up to work would be getting bonuses. Um… think about it.

Nathanael November 8, 2012 - 8:39 pm

Actually, let me be very clear about this: what usually gives unions a bad name in public is the tendency to protect bad apples. I think everyone deserves a fair hearing, and unions do more good than bad on the whole, and solidarity is vital, and bosses often engage in sheer abuse to attack union members.

But as a matter of pure public relations, it is crucial for unions to self-police — so that “union made” is a synonym for “well made”, as it was in most of the country some decades ago. Failing to do this leaves an opening which bosses will take instantly.

Dan November 8, 2012 - 4:14 pm

I agree. But see you people keep electing union loving democrats. Until you or someone with cajones breaks the unions this will always be a problem. And this Jimmy Hoffa wanna be Samuelson fires a salvo like anyone is listening? Lhota is doing the right thing. And when the fare go up it all goes to unions free pensions and health care. Dont like unions? Stop re-electing Carolyn Mahoney.

nyland8 November 8, 2012 - 5:52 pm

I like unions – so I guess I’ll keep reelecting Carolyn Mahoney.

Christopher November 8, 2012 - 7:03 pm

Even if you have to elect a Democrat, could it please be someone who is not Carolyn Maloney? She is well past her sell-by date, and is, frankly, an embarrassment in public. She’s not as corrupt as, say, Charlie Rangel, but she’s just as bad in other ways. Time for her to go.

Steve November 9, 2012 - 1:27 pm

Are you paying ANY attention to the extraodinary work that these people are doing? Did you notice that we had a HURRICANE that prevented people from doing much of anything for two days and wreaked EXTRAORDINARY havoc on our infrastructure and that they have brought most of the system back in an AMAZINGLY short amount of time? Or do you care about ANYTHING OR ANYONE but YOURSELF???

P.S.: Maloney had NOTHING to do with this! (or does that matter, either??)

Steve November 9, 2012 - 2:05 pm

In case you were wondering what the MTA and the unions have been up to, lately:

You know, these tracks did not fix themselves!

Stephen Smith November 8, 2012 - 5:01 pm

Did they get time and a half for overtime?

Mika November 9, 2012 - 1:47 pm

Yeah, but they’d also probably have been allowed to leave the “non-essential” cleanup jobs (read: outer-borough things like the G and L tunnels and the Cross Bay Bridge A connection) untouched for as long as they liked with little consequence and even less accountability.

Sandy Update: The L train lives again :: Second Ave. Sagas November 8, 2012 - 3:16 pm

[…] « TWU, MTA square off over pay for Sandy days Nov […]

nyland8 November 8, 2012 - 3:23 pm

Anyone who can prove they had no power, and therefore no access to communications, should not be penalized.

I know many persons whose cell phones died, many who could not recharge them, many who lost their home phone use through power outages, and even others whose nearest cell tower lost power, rendering them without a signal.

It should be an easy argument to make.

LLQBTT November 8, 2012 - 4:17 pm

Here’s the rub. If you’ve got no power, you’re told to stay inside, how do you call in if your cell is out of batteries or your land line goes through the cable.

So calling in. Yes I was in contact with my boss, but I also had the luxury of a charged phone and had power through the entire storm.

Nathanael November 8, 2012 - 8:34 pm

That’s a fair point.

Nathanael November 8, 2012 - 8:40 pm

So, anyone who did not call in because they did not have power or did not have cellphone service should get paid.

Anyone who showed up even though they did not have power should get a bonus!

Todd November 8, 2012 - 5:22 pm

This isn’t limited to transit. Nursing and sanitation are having the exact same discussions. Lots of expensive promises were made during the storm.

MH November 8, 2012 - 5:43 pm

“Transit has promised to pay everyone who came to work and those who could not…”

Let’s hope that they keep that promise. Our office was closed and we were told to stay home, but that the time would come out of our own vacation. That is the same as not being paid. I foresee a lawsuit if they choose to go this route.

Christopher November 8, 2012 - 6:39 pm

This isn’t the only example of bosses heaping praise on their workers while refusing to negotiate a contract with them. Bloomberg asked his Twitter followers to retweet his praise of city workers who were helping the city get through the storm. At the same time, Bloomberg refuses to negotiate any contract with any of the unions, and many (most?) people who work for the city are now doing so without a contract. No one expects Bloomberg to sit down at the negotiating table before the end of his term. I understand why so many people are leery of the city’s unions, but they’re a fact of life. This mayor appears to hope that, by ignoring them, they will simply go away. Refusing to negotiate a contract is, by itself, not a legitimate bargaining position. This mayor (and, to get back on topic), the MTA should not be allowed to get away with this.

Mika November 9, 2012 - 1:50 pm

“If you ignore it, it’ll go away eventually” is definitely a mantra a billionaire like Mike practices, along with “If you throw money at it, it’ll go away eventually”. He prefers the former for unions and actual people and the latter for everything else, of course.

Larry Littlefield November 9, 2012 - 9:16 am

The wrong fight to pick, and the wrong time to pick it.

They should examine the circumstances of those who didn’t come to work when they are able, and then consider the situation.

I’d like to know if it correlates with how far away the workers live, since the State for 50 years has chosen to allocate NYC jobs to those from elsewhere.

Moreover, I’d like to know how NYCT compares with the LIRR and Metro North.

Boris November 9, 2012 - 5:21 pm

Is it that hard for the supervisors of those (relatively few) employees who did not call in to say they did call in or had a legitimate excuse? This is clearly a non-issue and is easily solvable at the lower levels. Virtually everyone had some contact with their managers soon after the storm.


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