NYC Transit Strike Fueled by Pension Disagreement

December 20, 2005 ( - Early Tuesday morning, New York City's local transit union decided to strike after reaching a deadlock, primarily over pension benefits for new employees, in negotiations with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).

The New York Times reports that, while the MTA dropped the demand for the age for full retirement to be raised to 62 from 55, it proposed that new employees pay 6% of salary toward their pensions in their first ten years of employment. Currently transit workers pay 2% of salary toward their pensions.

Roger Toussaint, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union announced the strike at a news conference at 3 a.m. “New Yorkers, this is a fight over whether hard work will be rewarded with a decent retirement,” he said, according to the Times. “This is a fight over the erosion, or the eventual elimination, of health benefits coverage for working people in New York.”

According to MSNBC, the MTA also wants new workers to contribute 1% of their salary to pay for health insurance. Current workers pay nothing.

Additional employee benefits issues on the table were:

  • pay increases (the MTA proposed 3% annual salary increases, the union wanted more),
  • the union’s request for disaster-preparedness training, and
  • additional holidays; the latest MTA proposal included Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to MSNBC.

The Times notes it is against the law for public employees in New York State to strike. Workers face fines equal to two days pay for each day of the strike.