An arbitration panel has awarded transit workers with a generous 3 year contract that includes wage increases of more than 11 percent. And in a significant development, the panel also rolled back a portion of the employee health care contribution that the MTA won following the 2005 Transport Workers Union strike.
MTA officials say the new contract will blow a hole through its finances. Acting Executive Director of the MTA, Helena Williams, issued a statement saying,
“This award is extremely disappointing and fails to recognize the economic recession in the region and the impact of this downturn on the MTA. There will be a significant impact on the MTA’s bottom line.”
Over the next three years the contract will cost the MTA $350 million dollars more than the state agency has budgeted. Experts speculate the money will have to come out of the already under funded Capital Plan. A fare hike in 2009/2010 is unlikely as Governor David Paterson is running to keep his post.
The MTA and the TWU representing more than 30-thousand subway and bus workers reached an agreement last year in talks but Sources tell PIX News the deal was sunk by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The result was arbitration. The MTA argued in the midst of a recession and in lieu of fare hikes it was forced to levy on the riding public it would not be able to afford a significant wage increase for the Transport Workers Union. In many inside circles, the arbitration panels decision is seen as a defeat for Mayor Bloomberg.