More than 1,000 New York City pubic transit workers staged a Tuesday night rally outside of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Headquarters. It marked the end of the first day of contract negotiations between the union and the agency.
The workers, represented by the Transport Workers Union Local 100, took to Broadway, threatening to strike if the transit authority does not meet the union’s demands.
TWU Local 100 workers operate and maintain 469 subway stations, 840 miles of track, 5,700 buses and more than 6,400 subway cars. MTA makes approximately 7,746,000 million individual subway and bus trips, according to the union.
New York City commuters face the prospect of a massive shutdown of public transportation as subway riders face fare increases, which could bring the price of a ride to $3.
The union’s president, John Samuelsen, said that his members demand a fair contract and that the agency negotiates in good faith. Samuelson projected contract demands into the windows of MTA’s Headquarters, according to amNewYork.
“Without us, the city grinds to a halt. We make this city go, and we can make it go in the other direction too,” Samuelsen said, according to amNewYork. The union hopes to reach an agreement by Jan. 15, when the previous contract is set to expire.
The workers held signs that read “we’re he working class!,” and blew air horns and train whistles as onlookers often gave them a thumbs up or a quick cheer.
Increased wages, better worker equipment and stronger pensions were emphasized among the union’s demands. Safety improvements was also listed by the union as a demand, especially after a transit worker was struck and killed by a train two weeks ago.
The union hopes for a raise that is 2 percent above the rate of inflation, according to the New York Daily News. In the last contract in 2014, the union negotiated wage increases between one and two percent above inflation.
The union last held a strike in 2005, forcing millions of bus and subway riders to find alternative methods of transportation. The three-day strike severely impacted the city during a busy Christmas season.
As contract negotiations kick off, the union stakes its position clearly.
“Management hasn’t budgeted any money for wage increases and has publicly stated they expect us to agree to a 3 yr wage freeze and a big increase in what we pay for medical. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, that’s not happening!” The union asserted on its website.
MTA did not reply to a request for comment.
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