I feel sorry for the poor commuters of New York who are going to be the victims if there is another strike:
NYC Transit Workers Reject New Contract
By DAVID B. CARUSO
The Associated Press
Friday, January 20, 2006; 5:58 PM
NEW YORK -- The city's 33,000 transit workers rejected a new
contract by a mere seven votes Friday, raising fears of
another crippling strike like the one that brought subways and
buses to a standstill a month ago.
The Transport Workers Union voted down the contract 11,227
to 11,234, despite the urging of union President Roger
Toussaint to ratify the agreement.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the harshest critics of the
three-day walkout in December, called the contract
rejection "disappointing news to all New Yorkers." He urged
both sides to return to the negotiating table.
Toussaint did not address the possibility of another strike.
But opponents of the proposed three-year contract said they
were hopeful a new deal could be reached without another
"I would not advocate going back on strike," said union
Vice President Ainsley Stewart, who opposed the new contract.
Stewart said opponents were most upset by a provision that would
have required workers for the first time to contribute part of
heir salaries toward health care premiums.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the
city's mass transit system, had no immediate comment.
Toussaint blamed "downright lies" told by contract opponents
for the ratification failure but said the union's leadership was
ready to "go back to the drawing board" as soon as possible. He
also said TWU members were worried by Gov. George Pataki's threat
to veto a key $110 million refund of pension plan contributions.
The strike that started Dec. 20 shut down the nation's largest
mass transit system in the middle of the holiday shopping season.
It was the first system-wide strike since an 11-day walkout in
1980, and it left millions of New Yorkers and tourists scrambling
to find ways to get around the city.
It was also an illegal strike. State law forbids strikes by
public employees, and the walkout put the union and its members
at financial risk.
The union was fined $3 million, and workers were docked two
days' pay for each day on strike, though a Brooklyn judge has
yet to determine exactly how much of those penalties the union
and its employees will pay. Toussaint could also face jail time
for the walkout. A hearing scheduled for Friday was postponed.
The rejected contract would have provided raises of 3 percent
in the first year, then 4 percent and 3.5 percent in the following
two years. But it would have required the workers for the first
time to contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health
The MTA agreed to drop a proposal that would have raised the
retirement age for new hires from 55 or required new employees
to contribute more to their pensions.
© 2006 The Associated Press