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New York transit workers win respect and recognition with strong new collective bargaining agreement

news 02 Jun 2023

1 June 2023, London – New York’s bus and subway workers are set to receive a 9.8 percent pay rise over the next three years and have successfully campaigned against cuts in their benefits thanks tough talking by their union and with the support of the global union movement. 

After intense negotiations, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) of America has reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

In addition to the pay increases, the workers won USD $4,000 essential worker cash bonus payments and stood firm against the company’s attempts to double healthcare deductions. They also guaranteed workers’ and passengers’ safety by blocking MTA proposals to expand one person train operation (OPTO) on the subway, keeping passengers safer and retaining thousands of conductor jobs.

“Our heartiest congratulations go out to the TWU members who fought so hard for a fair and decent agreement,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. “TWU Local 100 President Richard Davis and the rest of bargaining team did an incredible job in securing this contract with the MTA. It wasn’t just a negotiation – it was a fight in the down-and-dirty war against corporate greed, and they won every battle. In doing so they ensured that Local 100 members at MTA will work under a contract that provides dignity, respect and better working conditions.”

Crumlin also paid tribute to TWU International President John Samuelsen who is a powerful voice in the New York and United States workers’ struggle.

The union successfully resisted a MTA bid to change overtime rules so that workers would only receive payments if they exceeded 40 hours a week. Members retain the existing right to overtime as soon as they go beyond eight hours in a day. Another MTA scheme was also beaten back. The Authority had wanted to reduce the paid vacation period for new hires.  

Union negotiators had another significant win, ensuring that medical coverage will be provided to the families of workers who died after contracting Covid-19.

“After everything that New York’s bus and subway workers went through to keep transport moving during the pandemic, it’s a disgrace that the MTA wanted to make such a big fight of this; that they wanted workers to pay for management’s failings,” said Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary. “The ITF was proud to stand in solidarity with TWU members and we’re delighted they have remained steadfast to achieve this outstanding result. They are an inspiration to us all.”

John Mark Mwanika, ITF’s Urban Transport Chair from the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union of Uganda, also welcomed the victory: “Around the world, workers and trade unions in public transport are taking action to defend their conditions and rights. This victory is another step forward for public transport workers in New York, but also a victory for all public transport workers who are the backbone of our cities’ vital public services keeping our cities moving. They all deserve recognition and respect."