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Transit Workers' Union Wants Cuomo to Get Involved in Stalled Contract Talks

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TWC News: Transit Workers' Union Wants Cuomo to Get Involved in Stalled Contract Talks
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The union representing 34,000 subway and bus workers is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to get involved in long-stalled contract talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Bus and subway workers have been without a contract for more than two years, and while the union says there's been some progress toward reaching a new deal, there's plenty that remains unresolved.

It's been a tough go for the union, which has staged numerous protests over the lack of progress but seems unwilling to launch the nuclear option of calling a strike.

The last one, in 2005, cost the union dearly, with $2.5 million in fines, since walkouts are forbidden by the state's Taylor Law.

Instead, the union's president, John Samuelsen, sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo to put pressure on the MTA to deal. The letter from Samuelsen says, "...while talks have produced some progress in understanding one another's needs, significant stumbling blocks remain. Absent your intervention, I do not see a path to resolving a number of difficult issues."

The letter does not specify what those issues are, but it's well-known that the union wants more money for its members. The MTA says that can only happen if members agree to givebacks, like contributing to their medical plan, something that the union has thus far been unwilling to do.

In his letter to the governor, Samuelsen says, "Quite frankly, I believe that your input is essential now if we are to reach a deal with the MTA."

So far, the MTA has not commented on the state of the negotiations.

One big difference from past labor battles between the union and the MTA leadership is that this time, at least, the union has publicly expressed its respect for MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.

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