The Chief- Lhota, Samuelsen In War of Words Over Who Stalled Contract – The Chief: News Of The Week

Posted: July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

July 15, 2013

Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen snapped back last week after former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph J. Lhota questioned his willingness to negotiate a new contract and accused him of taking a “gimme, gimme, gimme” bargaining stance.

During NY1’s televised Republican mayoral debate, Mr. Lhota was asked how he could be expected to settle all the city’s unresolved labor contracts when he’d been unable to reach an agreement with the transit union. The local’s 38,000 members have been working under an expired contract since both sides agreed to negotiate past the Jan. 15, 2012 deadline. Pacts for the other municipal unions are also expired—in many cases for at least three years—and talks stalled over Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence the city can’t afford to pay retroactive raises.

Claims TWU Ducked Talks

“The TWU canceled negotiating meetings 19 separate times” during his tenure, Mr. Lhota said, noting that there is still no contract six months after he quit to run for Mayor. Former New York City Transit head Thomas Prendergast was nominated as his successor shortly after, but wasn’t confirmed by the State Senate until late June. Talks are reportedly due to resume shortly.

“To negotiate you need two willing parties,” Mr. Lhota continued. “The TWU is still not ready.”

He said that the union would have to accept “numerous” work-rule changes, and that employees would have to pay for a larger share of health-care costs.

“All they want is the raise, and keep everything else the same,” Mr. Lhota said. “That’s not collective bargaining; that’s gimme, gimme, gimme.”

He added, “I’m not sure that the leadership of the Transport Workers Union knows how to negotiate a contract.” Mr. Samuelsen “never negotiated a contract in his life” and didn’t seem to be listening to his advisers, he said.

“He’s a bold-faced liar,” the union leader retorted in an interview. “That’s utterly ridiculous. I met with Lhota on an absolutely routine basis throughout his tenure here on a host of issues.”

He said both sides rescheduled meetings at times, often by mutual agreement.

‘Demands Were Outrageous’

“He’s really saying I steadfastly refused the crazed concessions he demanded,” he added. “Once I stood up to him, his response is, ‘He doesn’t know how to negotiate.’ In terms of ability to understand that contract bargaining is a two-way street, it’s Lhota who’s actually stumbling around in the dark in terms of one-sided bargaining. Lhota was making really outrageous concessionary demands of Local 100 and not looking to give any substantive wage increases in return.”

Mr. Samuelsen acknowledged that he’d rather delay a contract settlement than give up too much, especially since the MTA was reporting particularly dire financial numbers in early 2012, as the deadline approached.

“I could settle a contract tomorrow, but I do not want to [accept one] that has massive concessions in it just for the sake of settling a contract. It’s idiotic on the face of it to do that.

“My [in-house] opponents said I should have settled [by the deadline]—but in the past, during recessions, the contracts were extremely concessionary, some of the most concessionary in the union’s history,” he added.

‘Lhota a Bean-Counter’

Mr. Samuelsen objected sharply to the idea that he’d never negotiated before, saying he’d worked on “large chunks” of the Local 100 contract as an elected officer since 2002. And he drew a bold line between Mr. Lhota and his successor.

“Lhota doesn’t know a damn thing about how to run a subway or bus system,” he said. “Prendergast knows what Track Workers go through when they’re swinging a hammer all day in the tunnel in 110-degree heat. Lhota has no idea; he’s just a two-bit bean-counter from the financial industry.”

“Prendergast is not fumbling around in the dark. He knows what it takes to keep the system going…We may very well still run into a brick wall in our negotiations, but time will tell.”

via Lhota, Samuelsen In War of Words Over Who Stalled Contract – The Chief: News Of The Week.

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