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MTA puts pressure on union workers to accept givebacks or wage freezes in order to balance budget
Posted by Gold_12TH on Thu Jul 26 03:21:21 2012MTA puts pressure on union workers to accept givebacks or wage freezes in order to balance its budget
The MTA is ratcheting up the pressure for union workers to accept givebacks — or wage freezes — to help balance its budget.
Unveiling its latest four-year financial plan, Metropolitan Transportation Authority executives Wednesday said that the sacrifice it seeks from workers pales in comparison to what it is imposing on riders and drivers.
The MTA envisions riders and drivers contributing nearly $900 million more annually by 2015 with fare and toll hikes; one increase in March and another two years later.
A three-year wage freeze would generate annual savings of $307 million a year by 2015.
“We’re prepared to give raises as long as they are paid for through work rule changes or health care contributions,” MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran said during a presentation to the authority’s board.
Local 100 President John Samuelsen said he’s not accepting a wage freeze.
“It’s just not happening,” he said.
He claimed the state’s revision of the tax rates last year amounted to a big break for the wealthy, making it unjustifiable to ask either riders or transit workers to pay more or give contract concessions.
The MTA’s pension costs are projected to rise a whopping 19 percent this year, a huge increase due in part to the sluggish stock market, new records show.
The agency will likely spend $1.282 billion on pensions in 2012, up from $1.075 last year, according to its preliminary budget released yesterday.
Like the city and state, the MTA has recently had to contribute more to retirement costs because the rate of return on pension money investments was lowered.
The MTA’s 2012 preliminary budget — which projects a $47 million surplus for the year — relies heavily on its largest workers’ union accepting three years of no raises or work-rule changes that would negate any pay hikes.
If the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has been operating without a contract since January, does not agree to wage freezes, the MTA will have a $153 million deficit for 2012.
“We need the net-zero labor settlement,” said Robert Foran, the MTA’s chief financial officer.
TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said the agency has more money than it lets on.