The New York Times reports that the executive board of the union voted 37 to 4 to approve the tentative 37-month contract, in which the MTA dropped its proposed pension changes and the union agreed to workers contributing toward health care costs.
The settlement calls for workers to pay 1.5% of their salary toward their health care premiums, according to the Times.Also included in the deal are raises of 3% in the first year, 4% in the second year, and 3.5% in the third year. The subway and bus workers’ current base pay averages $47,000 a year, and with overtime, their average yearly earnings total $55,000.
Most transit workers face fines of a little more than $1,000 for participating in the illegal strike last week that was initiated over the union’s disagreement with the MTA’s proposed pension changes (SeeNYC Transit Strike Fueled by Pension Disagreement). The authority persuaded the union to end the strike by saying it would drop its demand for future workers to contribute more toward their pensions (See Both Sides Talking Again in NYC Transit Strike ).
The union agreed to a 37-month contract instead of a 36-month contract, making the expiration date January 15, 2009, rather than December 15, 2008 – a move requested by the authority to ensure another strike will not happen during the peak of holiday shopping season.
George Perlstein, a subway road-car inspector and the sole board member who abstained, said the health care contribution would set a precedent for further increases. “The health care contribution is going to be absolutely disastrous in the future,” he said. The health premium provision will save the MTA almost $32 million a year.
Since officials in City Hall and Albany often use the transit contract as a precedent, the agreement could influence District Council 37, the city’s largest union of municipal workers, and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, whose contracts have already expired.