Friday, January 20, 2006

NYC Transit Workers Reject Contract Deal


In an extraordinarily close vote, the New York City transit workers' union today rejected the contract settlement its leaders reached last month with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, scuttling the deal that ended a three-day citywide strike and raising anew the prospect of continued labor unrest.

Of 22,461 votes cast by the deadline at noon today, 11,227 workers voted to ratify the contract and 11,234 voted to reject it, a margin of just 7 votes - or 0.0003 percent. The rejection was a stunning defeat for Roger Toussaint, the president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents 33,700 subway and bus workers at the authority.


The strike cost businesses millions of dollars in lost revenue in the week before Christmas. Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, the city's largest association of business leaders, said she was astonished by the close outcome.

"Clearly, everything we've been hearing about chronic labor-management problems is coming home to roost," she said. "Second, it's a sign of substantial problems between union leaders and members. From the standpoint of the business community, nothing is worse than uncertainty, and this casts another pall over the reliability of the city's transit system."

The new contract would have given workers raises of 3 percent, 4 percent and 3.5 percent over the next three years . But it also would have required them for the first time to contribute 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health care premiums.

Shouldn't they recount a vote that was won (or lost, depending upon your point of view) by seven votes?

I mean, isn't Governor Pataki going to send for James Baker III to come by with a teamful of lawyers to look at some hanging chads and file some court briefs?

Seriously, seven votes is awful close.

I guess the TWU vote was honest.

Let's face it, if Unity and Randi Weingarten had been running the TWU, the contract would have passed 63% to 37%.

Oh, well. Maybe Toussaint will learn from Randi and invest some TWU money into Diebold machines for the next vote.

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