Saturday, January 21, 2006

NY Times: Younger TWU Workers Helped Defeat Contract

It came down to the health care concession which indexed future employee health care contributions to rising costs. From the NY Times:

For all the complexities and nuances of the contract that the transit workers narrowly rejected yesterday - percents and raises and insurance increases and pension contributions - the mathematics of the vote seemed to boil down to one simple number: age.

A contract provision to expand health coverage for retirees under 65 who live outside the New York area persuaded many older workers to vote yes. But a new requirement to pay a percentage of wages toward health premiums, set at 1.5 percent for now but indexed to future increases in health care costs, conjured up visions for younger workers of careers spent footing ever-higher insurance bills.

"I had to vote no because of the 1.5 percent for health care and the fact that it could go up at any time," said Ma Renoso, 33, an L line conductor.


In interviews yesterday, 5 of 7 subway and bus workers who were 45 or younger said they voted against the contract. Four of 5 who were over 45 voted for it, and several of those said that most of the older workers they knew also voted yes.

John Biscaino, a 45-year-old motorman on the L train who voted against the contract, said that between the 1.5 percent insurance contribution and the fines he paid for going on strike last month, the 3 percent raise the contract called for amounted to a wash. "We're losing out," he said.

Younger workers had to vote down the health care concession with hikes in employee contributions indexed to rising health care costs.

Simply put, in just a few years, workers would have been paying 10% or more of their earnings for their health care benefits.

The more I learn about the contract provisions, the more I believe the TWU rank and file did all municipal union members a favor by voting the contract down.

Employee health care contributions indexed to rising costs MUST NEVER be agreed to by municipal union members no matter how union leadership tries to sell it.

This is a lesson for UFT members for our next contract negotiation. You know this mayor (or the next one) is going to insist upon employee health care contributions indexed to rising costs. If the UFT membership has not already killed off the Unity bloodsuckers in the 2007 election, we must make sure that Weingarten and the rest of her patronage hacks know that health care concession ARE NOT an option.


If they concede on the health care issue, then they open the door to future concessions and increasing the amount contributed by the members. Remember how Weingarten opened up the can of worms in 2002 by extending the school day. It led to extending it further, as well as the school year. I tip my hat to those in the TWU with the courage to vote the proposed contract down. If only the supposedly higher-educated teachers who voted to approve the UFT contract would show courage.
I gotta second that last comment. Our leadership is pitiful, and so are we, if we're foolish enough to re-elect them.

Education, I think, is a relative thing, and has little to do with the number of years you've spent in school.
Health care concessions aren't an option? NOT EVER? Isn't that unreasonable? Going to war with the taxpayers in every negotiation really isn't the solution. If every union refuses to budge like you're suggesting, taxes in New York City would go even higher to fund their demands, and fewer businesses and families would be able to stay here. That doesn't bother you guys at all?
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