The union representing New York City's subway and bus workers filed papers last night opposing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's call for binding arbitration to settle their long-running contract dispute. The union said a new agreement could still be reached through negotiations.The main problem, however, is that TWU Local 100’s bargaining position has been tremendously eroded due Roger Toussaint’s fruitless strike and a proposed contract already turned down once by the members. The Times reinforces this point:
When the authority formally asked for binding arbitration on Jan. 25, it toughened its proposal, taking the pension reimbursement off the table and asking that new employees pay 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions, up from 2 percent for current workers.According to the Post, the most likely course of action is that the Toussaint will ask for another vote on a contract similar to the one rejected last month. The major question is whether the “beleaguered” union head still retains enough control to make members accept a deal they feel is substandard, especially in terms of the required health care payments.
In fact, on Tuesday February 28, 2006 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. members of the TWU will be protesting in front of the NYC Transit Health Benefit Office in Brooklyn demanding, among other things, that the 1.5% “health care tax” must be excised from proposed contract. This certainly isn’t good news for the current TWU leadership and is most likely a sign of things to come when Toussaint is up for reelection later this year.