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Saturday, December 31, 2005

This is amazing


Transit Union Says It Got Vow to Skirt Veto

Published: December 31, 2005

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has signed an agreement that guarantees to compensate transit workers more than $100 million if elected officials in Albany block a critical component of the contract settlement that the authority reached with the union this week, according to several representatives on the union's side.

The officials disclosed the existence of the agreement when they were asked to respond to Gov. George E. Pataki's threat to block the proposed contract provision, which calls for about 20,000 transit workers to receive thousands of dollars each in refunds for a portion of pension contributions they made between 1994 and 2001.

On Thursday, after many newspaper editorials and fiscal conservatives denounced the refunds as inexcusably generous to a union that had staged an illegal strike, Mr. Pataki's office warned that the governor was inclined to veto the legislation that would be required to refund the money.

Under the side agreement, the officials said, the substitute compensation could come in the form of cash bonuses, and would be paid out of either the transportation authority's operating budget or its surplus.

David Catalfamo, a spokesman for Mr. Pataki, said that no one in the governor's office had been told of - or had known of - the refund provision before the tentative settlement was announced on Tuesday. He also said yesterday that the office was unaware of any separate agreement that would provide the refunds if the Legislature or Mr. Pataki blocked them.

Gary J. Dellaverson, the authority's chief negotiator, declined yesterday to comment on whether there was a separate agreement outside the six-page memorandum of understanding that the two sides signed on Tuesday.

Asked about the pension refunds, he said: "It wasn't a last-minute highway robbery. We knew what it cost as part of the agreement. I was comfortable with the agreement and I am pleased with it."

The refunds have become a lightning rod for critics who assert that the provision, no matter what its real fiscal effect, gives the appearance of rewarding the union, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which staged a 60-hour strike last week in violation of the state's Taylor Law. "The governor was clear: The T.W.U. has broken the law and they will suffer the consequences," said a spokeswoman for Mr. Pataki, Joanna Rose.

Damn. Pataki should ask the TWU for his testicles back one day.

The fact is that the MTA needs labor peace in the years ahead. The critics can spout, but it's no longer their city. The MTA needs the good will of its workers and the minority middle class, regardless of Pataki. Once again, Pataki's "hard line" makes him look like a clown.

posted by Steve @ 1:48:00 AM

1:48:00 AM

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