This morning the MTA Board met and voted for construction of a Yankee Stadium Metro-North stop but did not vote to approve the TWU's newly ratified contract. Below are our comments delivered to the board at the start of the meeting.
STATEMENT of GENE RUSSIANOFF, Staff Attorney, NYPIRG STRAPHANGERS CAMPAIGN, before the METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY Board meeting on TWU CONTRACT/METRO-NORTH YANKEE STADIUM
April 26, 2006
The history books will soon be closing on your stewardship of the region’s mass transit system. You will get good marks on some things, like calling for and winning new taxes to maintain the MTA’s core rebuilding program, as well as keeping progressive fare discounts.
But for other aspects of your work you will be judged harshly — if you don’t move quickly to leave a better legacy for your successors.
Right now, you have the unenviable record of having the worst labor relations in the near forty-year existence of the MTA. But you have been given a second chance: The rank and file of Transport Workers Union Local 100 have just overwhelmingly ratified the contract they negotiated with you — a contract you signed with their colleagues at the Amalgamated Transport Union.
The MTA has called the re-vote “an empty gesture.” To the Straphangers Campaign, that comment was “a mean slap” at the thousands of your employees who voted for the contract.
There is only one reason I can think of for you to take the contract off the table. And it’s the cheesiest of all: To protect your patron Governor Pataki on the backs of the riding public, who will bear the months of uncertainty and further labor unrest that arbitration will surely bring.
There’s one other area in which you can improve your record: And that’s asking your riders to help pick up part of the tab for Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg’s development schemes. Stand up for the riders you represent and insist that the New York Yankee’s contribute to the construction of a Metro-North Yankee station.
You say you have found $40 million lying around to pay for the station. But your current capital program is nearly $1 billion under budget. So the question remains: What gets cut? There is no such thing as a free transit station.
Posted Apr 26 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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The Transport Workers Union Local 100 just announced that by a margin of 71% to 29%, workers overwhelmingly approved the contract with the MTA union members previously rejected. According to a first-ever joint poll with HopStop.com , public opinion is on the side of the MTA now ratifying the contract.
NYPIRG STRAPHANGERS CAMPAIGN
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 18, 2006
For More Info: Gene Russianoff or Neysa Pranger at (212) 349-6460 or Chinedu Echeruo at (212) 295-2130
Plurality of Riders Want MTA Contract With TWU To Take Effect
Straphangers Campaign and HopStop.com Issue First-Ever Joint Poll
The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and HopStop.com – a website that provides online subway and bus directions — today issued their first-ever joint poll.
The poll showed that 46.9% of riders polled favored having the contract between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Transport Workers Union Local 100 “take effect” if it passed in a re-vote by the TWU.
Riders were asked: "The Transport Workers Union wants to hold a re-vote of their rank and file on whether to ratify the contract they negotiated with the MTA last December. Members previously rejected that contract by 7 votes out of 22,000 cast. The MTA has responded by saying the issue should go to binding arbitration. What do you think should be done?"
The results of the poll were as follows:
- 46.9% "Hold a re-vote and if it passes, have the contract take effect" (355 responders)
- 36.9% "Go to binding arbitration" (279)
- 10.3% "Hold a new round of negotiations" (78)
- 5.9% "Other" (45)
The poll survey was conducted between March 30th and April 8, 2006 and was completed before the TWU re-vote results were announced. A total of 757 people responded to the poll.
"Riders have negotiation fatigue," said Gene Russianoff, Straphangers Campaign senior attorney. "Our poll shows the majority feel 'enough is enough.' It's time to move on."
"We are proud to help give voice to what transit riders are feeling," said Chinedu Echeruo, CEO of HopStop.com.
An e-mail alerting riders to the poll was sent to more than 25,000 subscribers to the Straphangers Campaign's web site. It also appeared on the HopStop.com homepage, which has approximately 15,000 unique visitors a day.
"While the Internet poll differs from a statistically valid random telephone or in-the-field survey, we believe the poll gives an accurate picture of how riders are feeling," said Neysa Pranger, coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign.
The TWU decided to re-vote the contract and announced the results on Tuesday, April 18th. In the past, the MTA expressed its preference for binding arbitration, but it is unclear what it will do now that the union rank and file has endorsed the contract in a second vote.
Posted Apr 18 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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Yankee Stadium - Part II
The City Council has approved the Yankee Stadium deal. We support a new stadium, but think our elected leaders can get a better deal. The proposed new Metro-North stop at Yankee Stadium still has many obstacles in the way. We think it sends the wrong message to use parkland for parking lots if you want to encourage transit use. And building parks on top of parking garages just doesn't make sense either. My youngest daughter has asthma and I would never want her to play in a park built on top of a exhaust-producing parking garage.
Below is the statement we put out, asking a bunch of questions.
What do you think?
STATEMENT ON YANKEE STADIUM METRO NORTH STATION
Tuesday, April 4, 2006
It's right to get more people to Yankee Stadium by public transit, so a Yankee Stadium Multi-modal Transportation Center can be a home run. But the Straphangers Campaign would like to know more:
- What will the MTA have to cut from its 2005-2009 capital program to fund a Yankee Stadium station? (Our understanding is the MTA is saying they can "move around" money and make no cuts. We are skeptical.)
- How much will the new Yankee Stadium station building cost to build and operate? (The MTA's 2000-2004 capital program contained $5 million to design the project, so it should know.)
- Are the Yankees contributing anything to the creation of a Yankee Stadium station - or will it be just another subsidy?
- Now that additional transit is planned, will the City Council cut back on new planned parking when it votes on the project later this week?
Posted Apr 12 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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Station Customer Agents
More than once, the Straphangers Campaign has been accused of being too negative about the MTA.
O.K., more than twice.
So I thought I'd mention a MTA New York City Transit initiative we like: station customer agents.
These folks used to be booth agents and now rove around the station. We like the idea of someone interacting directly with passengers, who admittedly can sometimes be difficult to deal with. They can help riders use MetroCard Vending Machines, give out maps and directions, assist riders having trouble navigating a station or spot dangerous conditions or events.
Like any change it requires close review by riders group and the public to be sure it’s being carried out in fair and effective way, but we see the SCA's as the victorious outcome of a five-year campaign. It started in 2000 with a successful law suit requiring hearings before booth closures, leading to scores of New Yorkers turning out at the 2003 and 2005 hearings.
After much debate and agitation, the hearings and organizing led to the MTA moving from a budget cutting exercise (axing clerks) to a customer service policy (roving station clerks.)
Some see it differently. They point out it can be hard to find a roving clerk not in a booth and that conditions for these agents can be dangerous. Plus they are of little help if the MVM is down.
What do you think?
Posted Apr 5 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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