Outside the Strike Zone

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 22, 2005 8:18 AM

UPDATE: It's official. Strike over.

A New York state mediator just made a statement that the TWU and MTA are returning to negotiations.

TWU leaders are recommending that their employees go back to work while negotiations take place.

There is a media black-out on the details of the negotiation.

UPDATE: The pension plan remains the sticking point. Flip on the subject:

Toussaint claims that the sole remaining sticking point is the MTA's desire to overhaul the employee pension system. Under the old contract, employees with 20 years of service were eligible for full pensions at age 55. When the two sides first sat down, the MTA wanted this raised to 62, while the TWU was pushing for it to be lowered to 50 (!).

The MTA has since reverted to the status quo on the age threshold but has asked that all future employees be required to contribute 6% of their earnings to their pensions. Currently, they contribute a paltry 2%.

This is the sole remaining conflict.

Bear in mind no existing MTA employee will be affected by this either way. Toussaint is crippling New York City (not to mention draining the coffers of his own union and subjecting his members to hefty fines) and risking going to jail to secure unreasonable benefits for non-existent TWU members. This smacks of pride and perverse obstinance.

This strike has cost the TWU a lot of money (a $1 million a day fine + two days of salary for every employee) and a lot of popular support. I'd love to see a poll on union support in NYC right about now.

Even New Yorkers who admit to being sympathetic to unions are blasting them in interviews for doing this during Christmastime.