NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The contract battle between transit workers and the agency is getting bitter.
Since May, the two sides have been without a contract, and now, the workers union is launching a million dollar ad campaign vilifying chairman Pat Foye, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports.
The Transport Workers Union Local 100 is sending a scathing message through TV and radio ads, saying, “Transit workers were assaulted or harassed more than 2,300 times last year. … Only the MTA and chairman Pat Foye would tolerate such employee abuse and then demand a wage freeze.”
The ad also says the agency’s management spent $2 billion on consultants in five years.
It comes as the 40,000-plus union members — including bus drivers, subway conductors and cleaners — go on five months without a new contract.
The union says the sticking points are the MTA’s requests for a wage freeze, asking members to double the employee contributions for health insurance and only hiring new bus operators part-time.
“We don’t have money to pay workers. We’re going to cut service to the public. Is it fair to the workers? Is it fair to the public? It’s all bs. It’s all bs,” said TWU Local 100 treasurer Earl Phillips.
While waiting for the MTA to respond to an interview request, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer tried getting the agency’s side at an unrelated press conference.
They told her they had to stay on topic and they would release a statement.
A spokesperson said by email that Foye and the MTA’s top priority is the safety and security of the workforce and says it’s adding 500 new MTA police to protect employees and riders. She maintained good faith negotiations with the union are ongoing.
But former MTA chairman Peter Kalikow says it’s looking like deja vu to his time in 2005 when the union workers last went on strike.
“The people who live and work in the five boroughs, they’re the ones who get the beating here,” he said. “If there’s an overly generous settlement, they’re going to get it either by paying more taxes or by paying higher fares.”
The union says the two parties met earlier this week, but it’s unclear when they will both be back at the negotiating table.
The union is planning a massive rally outside the MTA’s Broadway offices on Oct. 30. Leaders won’t say whether this could lead to a strike.