long Island Exchange Kallos: "No Contract for New MTA Chair Without Contracts for All Employees" by Long Island Community News Release

Long Island Exchange
Long Island Exchange
Kallos: "No Contract for New MTA Chair Without Contracts for All Employees"
Long Island Community News Release
04/15/2013

(New York, N.Y.) – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been proven to be hypocritical in its unequal treatment of senior management versus regular employees, according to compensation documents obtained by Ben Kallos, a City Council Candidate for the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.

“No contract for workers – no contract for the Chair!” exclaimed Kallos. “The MTA’s rewarding of executives while punishing workers is hypocrisy, especially when using tax dollars.”

None of the MTA’s 54,000 union employees have current contracts. In stark contrast, both of the past MTA Chairmen had generous employment agreements, summarized and included in full text below. Governor Cuomo’s appointment of a new MTA Head last Friday, April 12, 2013, will be subject to confirmation by the State Senate.

“The MTA Chair must not accept a new contract until every one of his employees also has a current contract,” suggested Kallos. “The next MTA Chair can immediately save taxpayers millions currently spent on lawyers instead of riders by ending unnecessary arbitration of MTA employee contracts.”

All of the MTA’s 54,000 workers that are represented by unions are currently working on contracts that have already expired. The MTA is currently negotiating contracts that when adopted would already be expired. The reason for this delay is that the MTA refuses to bargain in good faith forcing all of its contract negotiations to interest arbitration. The MTA continues to pay attorneys at Proskauer Rose more than $540 an hour, rather than using its own team of attorneys, to fight contracts in court and at interest arbitration. [1]  Just one lawsuit in 2009, which the MTA lost by the unanimous decision of a five-judge panel in the Appellate Division, cost taxpayers $690,781.27. [2]

The MTA’s legal maneuvering has drawn out contract negotiations, so that employees now fight for contracts that would already be expired. In May 2012, 3,000 MTA Bus drivers won an 11% raise under a contract awarded after interest arbitration. [3 The contract, which covered January 2009 through January 2012, was obsolete and expired on the date it was awarded.

Notwithstanding these decisions, on January 31, 2013, the MTA has decided to proceed to interest arbitration with yet another union, this time Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1179, having failed to reach an agreement for the same contract period.

In 2012 the MTA paid former Chief Operating Officer Charles Monheim $285,000 after his demotion [4] and on Chairman Lhota’s departure in December, Lhota granted $253,000 in pay raises and payouts to three members of senior management, stating “there’s nothing more sacrosanct in common law than contracts being honored.” [5]

Lhota made this statement at the same time the MTA led its crusade to impose wage freezes on unionized workers and staunchly resisted awarding raises to clerical and managerial staffers, employees who last received a raise in 2008.

“We join riders and transportation advocates throughout the State in recognizing Governor Andrew Cuomo for appointing a new MTA Chair and CEO with decades of experience in the system, commitment to stay longer than his predecessors, and record of innovation,” concluded Kallos.

Benjamin Kallos is the Executive Director of a leading Good Government group, entrepreneur, attorney, and the former Chief of Staff for Assembly Member Jonathan Bing. Learn more about his run for City Council District 5 to succeed Jessica Lappin, who is running for Manhattan Borough President, at www.kallosforcouncil.com

Issue: 
Transportation