#MTA won’t negotiate new union contracts during pandemic

#MTA won’t negotiate new union contracts during pandemic

June 10, 2020 | 6:44pm

Labor leaders say the MTA is refusing to come to the table for contract negotiations amid the coronavirus pandemic — denying all workers benefits that were granted to some staffers earlier this year.

“After all we’ve been through, after all we have done, the MTA is treating us with total disrespect. MTA executives call us heroes but in reality they treat us like zeroes. It’s incredibly shameful,” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 726 President Danny Cassella, who reps Staten Island bus drivers, said in a statement Wednesday.

Cassella and other ATU leaders say the MTA refuses to extent the benefits of its January contract with its largest union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, to the rest of the city’s transit workforce.

Local 100 — which reps many bus and subway workers — won its more than 35,000 members a 10 percent wage hike over the next four years after going eight months without a contract.

Transit workers not repped by Local 100 continue to earn wages stipulated by their previous contract, which expired in May 2019.

In the past, the MTA extended the terms of its contract with TWU Local 100 to its others unions, labor leaders said, a practice known as “pattern bargaining.”

But with the $18 billion-per-year transit agency facing over $10 billion in lost fare, toll and tax revenue over the next two years thanks to the coronavirus, unions and their allies worry workers repped by smaller unions will be shortchanged.

“TWU goes first, then all the others, it is always extended to the other unions. This is the first time in history they’re saying it’s not going to happen,” said State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), who asked all five of the MTA board nominees up for state Senate confirmation on Wednesday to commit to extending TWU’s raises and benefits to the rest of the workforce.

An MTA source blamed the exclusion of smaller unions on Local 100 President Tony Utano.

“Utano had an opportunity to bring along other locals during contract negotiations and chose not to,” the source charged.

Utano told The Post: “Are you f–king kidding me? That has never ever been done before. They have their own contracts.”

Reached for comment, MTA rep Abbey Collins said the cash-strapped agency is “reevaluating” its “budget and bargaining position” due to the financial strain caused by the pandemic.

“Virtually all MTA priorities and operating payments are dependent on Congress delivering significant federal funding in any future relief package,” Collins said in a statement.

“We urge our union partners to continue to join our call for the federal government to step up and do the right thing.”

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan


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