May 19--The members of the MTA's largest union have overwhelmingly approved a new contract that agency officials say is the model for a proposed deal with Long Island Rail Road laborers.
The Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents 34,000 New York City Transit Workers, ratified their contract by a vote of 12,458 to 2,681. The 83 percent margin was "unprecedented" for the union, according to Local 100 President John Samuelson.
In a Brooklyn hotel ballroom where the votes were tabulated, dozens of union members cheered, applauded and hugged each other after Samuelson announced the results.
"We fought back and we won," Samuelson said of the new deal, which includes raises totaling 8 percent over five years and new health and pension benefits for members and their spouses.
For years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority pushed for unions to accept a three-year wage freeze, but Samuelson said his members would "never" have accepted those terms.
MTA officials have said they expect the TWU contract to set a pattern to be followed by all its unions, including those at the LIRR. Nearly 6,000 LIRR workers have not had a contract since 2010.
The TWU contract still needs the approval of the MTA Board, which will consider it Wednesday. MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the agency was "pleased" with the ratification of the TWU contract, which he said was the result of compromise from both sides.
"We hope to be able to resolve the LIRR dispute at the bargaining table, just as we did with the TWU," Lisberg said.
The MTA last month offered the LIRR unions a deal it says is modeled after the TWU agreement. The six-year deal includes raises of 11 percent.
But railroad union leaders are demanding the terms proposed by a White House-appointed mediation board in December. The board recommended raises of 17 percent.
A second Presidential Emergency Board is scheduled to release its recommendation for a fair LIRR contract Tuesday.
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