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Transport Workers Union Members Closer to Signing New Contract

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Members of the Transport Workers Union are one step closer to signing the dotted line on a contract that includes 8 percent pay raises over five years, including retroactive bumps going back to 2011. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

On Monday, transit workers overwhelmingly approved a new contract that will give them 8 percent pay raises over five years, with 82 percent of the more than 15,000 votes coming down in favor of the deal.

"A 55-40 victory or a 60-40 victory in a contract ratification in Local 100 is good. Over 80 percent is an unprecedented mandate from the membership," said John Samuelsen, president of Transit Workers Union Local 100.

To finally seal the deal, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board has to approve the contract at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.

It's taken a while to even get to this point—more than 34,000 workers had gone without a contract since January 2012. Not to mention, MTA brass had long said raises were out of the question without significant concessions from its workforce.

"Never. Never. Never a thought in my mind we were going to take the garbage they were trying to push down our throats," Samuelsen said.

That all changed last month, when Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through the deal, which doesn't increase the projected fare hikes in 2015 and 2017, and provides for improved worker health benefits. They'll now have to contribute 2 percent of their pay for that, though, up from 1.5 percent.

"Both sides had to negotiate. Both sides had to give some at the bargaining table but we were able to reach a successful conclusion," said MTA Spokesman Adam Lisberg.

All this comes after heated rhetoric and rallies from a union that actually walked off the job for two and a half days in 2005.

The illegal strike cost the TWU $2.5 million in fines.

Don't think the labor scraps are out of the way, though.

The MTA isn't out of the woods yet, with the possibility of a summer strike on the Long Island Rail Road still looming.

Workers on the commuter railroad are permitted to strike and could do so as soon as July.

"We want to work this out. There is no reason that this dispute can't be settled by both sides being willing to negotiate and compromise and resolving this before it results in any kind of disruption for our customers," Lisberg said.

At least that's not in play for city transit riders.

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