UPDATE: My WOR radio interview on this topic with John Gambling is here.

A labor arbitration panel reportedly is prepared to award raises of nearly 12 percent over the next three years to Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees represented by Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union.  The arbitration award would also water down a 2005 contract agreement requiring union members to contribute a small share of their health insurance premiums, and would cost $400 million more than the transit agency has budgeted for 2009-11, according to the Daily News.

Here’s how the settlement–a wage increase of 4 percent in each of the next two years, and 3.5 percent in 2011–would look in New York City’s current economic context:


It isn’t too surprising that arbitration resulted in a larger award than the MTA had budgeted in its already leaky financial plan.

Governor Paterson is ultimately responsible, since MTA managers couldn’t have punted the contract to binding arbitration without the permission of (or a push from) their ultimate boss in Albany.  Mayor Bloomberg is also partly to blame, since his ill-advised contract settlements with city unions last fall established the “pattern” that apparently will be folowed by the arbitration.  Of course, that’s not the way Bloomberg sees it.   From today’s News report:

Bloomberg acknowledged he too recently gave 8.16% in raises to 6,692 of his city managers and nonunion employes.

“The city’s finances are different than the MTA’s finances,” he countered.

“The city’s workforce is different, so there’s no reason to think that if one does something, the others automatically have to get it,” he added.

The city is different?  How so?

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is the Empire Center’s founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Big Apple Pols Have Played Both Sides in NYPD Fight

New York City’s police department has come under criticism in recent days, with some city officials saying NYPD funding should be reduced. But many of the same New York City Council members Read More

Union pay remains non-“prevailing”

Barely one in five private construction workers in New York State was covered by a union contract last year, according to newly released statistics that call into question a state public works "prevailing wage" mandate that assumes 30 percent union coverage of building trades occupations across New York. Read More

Cuomo makes case against PLAs

In cutting the figurative ribbon on a big Capital Region highway project, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a convincing argument against his own policy of steering state work to building trade unions. Read More

A lesson on apprenticeships

The raw politics behind giveaways to building trade unions were on display last week in Troy, a city outside Albany. Read More

Unions puff up numbers post-Janus

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court said government workers couldn’t be forced to pay union dues, New York’s public-sector unions are concealing their losses by publishing inflated membership figures. Read More

Suffolk’s questionable contracts

New York’s most populous suburban county has just ratified a trio of labor deals with its largest unions—and, in the process, showcased some of the worst aspects of collective bargaining across the state. Read More

Policing the MTA’s overtime police

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has assigned its own police force to monitor attendance and overtime use by Long Island Railroad employees, the Daily News reports. Read More

Bill would subsidize union strikes

A bill passed by the state Senate last week could shift millions of dollars in costs from labor unions to the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) program while making employers indirectly subsidize union strikes. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.