Meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board Wednesday, the governor went out of his way to point out that he had negotiated state worker contracts that included three years of zero raises.
He did so in the aftermath of the national economic downturn, a time when inflation was essentially zero. Mayor Bloomberg took the same stance with the city’s unions, after having granted them generous raises for most of his tenure.
The unions chose to wait for the election of a new, presumably labor-friendlier mayor. They got de Blasio, and they now want him to ante up as much as $7.8 billion in back pay.
At the same time, Cuomo has taken his no-raise stance into negotiations over a lapsed contract that extends back to the same time period.
“We’re still trying to negotiate with the TWU, which is the subway workers’ union,” the governor said. “And it’s along the same parameters of three zeroes. So when you talk about the New York City labor unions and retroactive raises, that’s the pattern that has been set by the state unions: three zeroes.”
Asked if his fellow Democrat at City Hall should follow suit, Cuomo replied: “I don’t want to tell the mayor how to negotiate his contracts, but that’s how we negotiated ours.”
The message was clear: He wants de Blasio on the same page for the good of all taxpayers.
Ending a two-year impasse, the MTA and the union for subway and bus workers in the city have agreed to a new contract that includes 8% raises over five years and no increase to the base fare, Gov. Cuomo announced Thursday.
The deal, brokered with the help of the governor, calls for the 34,000 members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 to receive 1% retroactive pay raises for 2012 and 2013, and 2% pay increases for 2014 through 2016.
The deal also includes two weeks’ paid maternity and paternity leave, and improved dental and optical benefits.
“It was a long negotiation,” said Tom Prendergast, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “What we have here is a fair wage settlement for employees, an agreement consistent with our financial plan.”
The agreement, which must be approved by the MTA board, came after Local 100 President John Samuelsen wrote to Cuomo on Tuesday night, requesting that he help overcome stumbling blocks in negotiations.
The terms of the deal are likely to influence contract talks with several other MTA unions, particularly ones for LIRR workers.
Cuomo said the deal would have little bearing, however, on Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to reach settlements with 152 municipal unions whose workers are laboring under expired contracts.
“I think these are separate situations,” Cuomo said. “The mayor will negotiate his contracts separately.”
This contract deal shows how desperate Cuomo was to avoid labor strife in an election year, especially the kind that leads to strike threats from the subways and/or rail unions.
It now works for city unions as a nice argument against the city or the newspaper editorial boards when they say full retro/increases every year in a contract are not possible.
Hey, Cuomo signed off on them, of course they're possible, that's the response when the concern trolls at the News or Post say the city can't afford either.
And any argument that the CSEA pattern holds for the city negotiations, a dubious argument before hand, though one that was pushed by Cuomo, is dead with this TWU 100 deal.
Clearly Cuomo is feeling a little squirrel-y over his re-election campaign prospects or he wouldn't have pushed the MTA to break the CSEA pattern.
Too bad the TWU 100 leadership didn't press him more.
Given the flak Cuomo is taking over Moreland, given the worries Cuomo has about a third party candidate entering the race and taking votes away from him, given the concerns he has about his "liberal" base and the unions abandoning him, and given his need to avoid even the talk of a transit strike by either MTA or LIRR workers in the months leading up to Election Day, I think they could have ultimately gotten more than they got.
That said, municipal union negotiators should be smiling today because they just got an early Christmas gift for their own negotiations with NYC.
Except for the UFT, of course, who will no doubt look to make the worst deal possible regardless and tell us it "scrapes the skies."