December 22, 2014

Proposal for LIRR workers ‘unacceptable,’ unions say

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Simon

Long Island Rail Road unions left the meeting of Presidential Emergency Board 245 more united than ever in their quest for a fair contract.

The unions submitted a proposed contract that followed the recommendations of the PEB 244, which called for modest net annual increases of 2.5 percent.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority submitted an offer they claim was patterned after the tentative deal reached last week with TWU Local 100, but in reality, it fell far short, the union coalition reports.

The coalition is comprised of SMART Transportation Division General Committee of Adjustment GO 505, the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers SEIU 32BJ, the Transportation Communications Union and the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.

“It is truly unfortunate that at this late stage, MTA would submit an offer that they know will guarantee a strike if it is selected,” said SMART General Chairperson Anthony Simon. “Their proposal would reduce real wages and effectively eliminate the pension plan for new hires. It is absolutely unacceptable.”

“The MTA is not telling the truth when it characterizes the unions’ position. We have never said that if we don’t get everything we want, there will be a strike. What we are saying loud and clear is that the MTA’s lowball offer, far below the real value of Transport Workers Union Local 100’s deal, will definitely provoke a strike if it was submitted to our membership for ratification.”

The MTA offer, though purportedly following the contours of Local 100’s agreement, actually omitted most of the value of that deal.

“If the MTA offer to us was submitted to the Local 100 membership, it would go down in flames,” Simon said.

The union coalition presented expert testimony showing that the agency could afford the unions’ proposal without raising fares. In fact, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast testified that MTA was funding the Local 100 deal out of the same LIRR fund that the unions testified were available to the first board, but which MTA said they couldn’t use. It also tapped a fund for LIRR workers’ pensions.

The MTA proposal to PEB 245 omitted almost all of the benefit gains achieved by Local 100. In their place, MTA offered less than 75 percent of their actual value, according to Local 100 officials. MTA offered no evidence to support its valuations of their proposal.

On pensions, MTA proposed that LIRR workers pay more than 9 percent of their salary, where Local 100 members would pay on average 3.5 percent for a pension payment of substantially less value. New hire salaries would be slashed far beyond the modest changes in the tentative Local 100 deal.

“We are shocked that MTA would come before the PEB with a proposal so far below the fair recommendations of the first Presidential Emergency Board, as well as what they agreed to with Local 100 and the MTA police. Their proposal fails the test of reasonableness, and cannot be the basis of a voluntary settlement,” Simon said.