All Long Island Rail Road Union blasted MTA’s June 24th press conference as a major step backward toward settling the four year old contract dispute.
MTA contacted the unions late last Friday saying they wanted to formally present a new settlement proposal. Meetings were scheduled for Friday June 27. Instead, before many of the unions even read the proposal, MTA called a citywide press conference to argue for its proposal to the public and press.
“By its actions, MTA has continued its four year pattern of bad faith bargaining,” says Coalition spokesman SMART General Chairman Anthony Simon. “Instead of sitting down with the only people who can make a deal, MTA chose the route of cheap political grandstanding. It’s painfully clear MTA is not serious about negotiating a settlement.”
Union leaders are debating whether they will even meet with MTA on Friday, given the unacceptability of MTA’s latest gambit. “When will MTA stop playing games?” asks Simon. “MTA had already been told that any approach that tried to pay for the contract by introducing a permanent tow-tier system was totally unacceptable.”
All the unions charged that MTA’s latest ploy demonstrated its total lack of credibility. “A few months ago MTA claimed it couldn’t afford more than net zeroes without raising fares by 12%,” says Simon. “Then, after two Presidential Emergency Boards rejected that claim as phony, MTA proclaimed that it couldn’t afford the PEBs’ recommendations without slashing its capital budget. Now we hear that MTA wants to spend more money during the life of the contract than the unions are asking for, in return for savings that wouldn’t be realized for decades. It is no wonder that MTA’s claims were rejected for the lies that were by six nationally renowned neutral arbitrators.”
“MTA knows full well that its latest so-called proposal has a much chance at being taken seriously as its contingency plans have of getting people to work in the event of a strike,” says Simon. “The PEB recommendation were well thought out compromises. We said all along they were affordable without raising fares or disrupting the capital program. MTA finally admitted as much at their press conference. It’s time for TMA to stop playing games. It’s not too late to avert a strike.”
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