Janet Babin, Host, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a host and reporter at WNYC.
Subways and busses are still running even though no contract has been reached between the MTA and roughly 34,000 New York City Transport Workers Union Local 100 members.
Both sides have remained mum since the union contract expired Sunday.
But sources close to the negotiations say the MTA is pushing for a five-year collective bargaining agreement, while the union wants a shorter term. Until the early 1980s, the union and the MTA usually made two-year agreements. Then the contracts got longer after the union agreed to extend them.
The union opposes longer contracts that might cut its members out of any increases.
Other sticking points include heath care and wage increases. The union wants raises to match the increasing cost of living, while the MTA wants to keep payroll costs down as part of statewide budget cuts.
Healthcare is another point of contention. The MTA wants union members to pay more for their healthcare to counter spiraling health expenses. The union said the increases add up to between $4,500 and $5,000 per year out of pocket for workers.
The MTA laid off about 1,000 workers in 2010, and the workforce is pretty spare. The MTA is not expected to lay off more workers this year. At some point, both sides could declare an impasse, and arbitration would have to take place.
The last transit workers strike was in December 2005. It lasted three days and stranded millions of people, stuck without subway and bus service.