Janet Babin

Business, Sustainability, Climate Reporter, WNYC News

Janet Babin appears in the following:

MTA Chief: We Have Not Reached an Agreement With Union

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The MTA chairman refuted a claim Thursday that the authority had caved to costly union demands in contract negotiations.


Subway Survey Shows Subpar Platform Conditions

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A survey of New York City’s subway station platforms has revealed what most New Yorkers already know: some platform conditions are subpar.

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Contract Talks Resume Between MTA and Transit Union

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

TWU Local 100 president John Samuelsen and NY MTA executive director Joe Lhota before start of contract talks. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

Talks resume Thursday between New York City’s Transport Workers Union and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It is the first time the two sides will have met since contract talks collapsed late last month.

Both sides return to the bargaining table with little animosity, according to a source close to the union. But the calm comes after theatrical fallout. At a press conference a few weeks ago, TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen accused the MTA of negotiating in the media.

The MTA fired back that it was the union talking to the press.

The top sticking points remain. The MTA wants a five-year agreement with the union, with no wage increase for the first three years, followed by 2 percent across-the-board wage increases in subsequent years. The union wants a three-year contract, with cost of living increases each year.

Additionally, the MTA is proposing increases in health care contributions for workers. It's also asked for a host of rule changes, such as whether the MTA will be able to combine train conductor and operator jobs.

According to one union official, negotiations are expected to drag on for several weeks. There's currently no threat of a strike like the one that stalled public transit for three days in December 2005.

The MTA's contract with TWU Local 100 expired on January 15.

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MTA and Union to Resume Talks

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Talks resume Thursday between the city's Transport Workers Union and the MTA. It is the first time the two sides will have met since talks collapsed late last month.


WTC Design Flaw Could Cost Millions

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A design flaw in the loading docks at the new One World Trade Center site could end up costing the Port Authority millions of dollars.

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TWU Suspends Talks with NY MTA Over Contract

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen, left (Photo: Janet Babin/WNYC)

Talks broke down today between New York's Transport Workers Local Union 100 and New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Members of The Transport Workers Union gathered in the lobby of New York City Transit headquarters in Lower Manhattan and accused the authority of bargaining in the media, instead of at the negotiation table.

Local 100 President John Samuelsen said the city’s 34-thousand transit workers found out about the MTA’s contract proposals before union brass did.

“You had bus operators, track workers, signal maintainers, reading the newspaper today, with a better grasp of what the MTA was going to do with the negotiation committee of the union and the leadership of the union...and that's an outrage, “ said Samuelsen.

Details about the MTA offer surfaced in the New York Daily News Thursday.  The union's contract expired Sunday.  But the two sides have continued to negotiate. The union held a rally at the beginning of talks last month but this is its first public demonstration of anger at the authority.

Sticking points in the contract include increased healthcare costs and the amount of wage increases.  The News said the MTA had offered the union a five year contract,with a 1%-percent increase for the first three years, and 2%-percent increase in the subsequent two years. But the union wants a three-year contract.  It also wants wage that keeps up with inflation.   The MTA has said that any increases in union wages should be revenue neutral.

Even though Samuelsen cancelled talks, he said the union was willing to return to the negotiating table.  “No new talks are scheduled,” said Samuelsen.

The TWU went on strike for nearly three days in 2005, crippling New York's transit system. In response to the union’s actions,  a spokesman for the MTA said only, “it does not negotiate in the press.”


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MTA-Union Talks Suspended

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Talks broke down Thursday between Transport Workers Local Union 100 and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Members of TWU gathered in the lobby of New York City Transit headquarters in Lower Manhattan and accused the authority of bargaining in the media, instead of at the negotiation table.


MTA Says 2nd Ave Subway Line Construction Not Increasing Air Pollution

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the blasting involved in creating the Second Avenue subway line has not increased air pollution.

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MTA: Subway Blasting Not Creating Pollution

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Second Avenue Subway construction, looking south from East 79th Street (photo by Kate Hinds)


The NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority says blasting for the creation of the Second Avenue subway line has not increased pollution.  But something else apparently did elevate some pollutants during the time the air was being tested.

The MTA commissioned the study from private firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. It did find elevated levels of three pollutants in the air.  But the MTA says the levels were not elevated while the agency was doing blasting.

According to the report, fine dust, sulfur dioxide and ammonia readings were above standard federal limits.

Most New Yorkers are thrilled at the prospect of a new subway line along Second Avenue, a north-south corridor along the city’s east side.  But residents in the area have complained for months about dust from construction fouling the air and degrading air quality.

The study was based on a monitoring program that collected data on ten pollutants at ten stations along Second Avenuefrom69th street to 87th street.  Monitoring began in September and lasted a month.  Additional details from the report will be presented at a meeting later this month of the Second Avenue Subway Task Force Committee.



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Rutgers Lands Federal Transportation Grant

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rutgers University has scored a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The school's Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) was one of 22 institutions to get the federal grants this year.


Federal Money for Transpo Robot

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Robot Tests Bridges for Structural Deficiences (Photo: Rutgers University/Drew Noel Photography, 2011. All rights reserved.)

Rutgers University has scored a $3.5-million dollar grant from the US Department of Transportation.  The school’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) was one of 22 University Transportation Centers to get the federal grants this year, down from 60 institutions that received grants last year.

CAIT’s Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, Allison Thomas, said the grant will help defray administration costs that support a number of programs, including one that focuses on bridge and road infrastructure maintenance and repair.

“With things falling apart all over the place, maintenance and repair are key, and the New York metro area is our lab,” said Thomas.  The Rutgers team designed a robot to help it diagnose problems in bridges before they are visible to the naked eye.

Externally, the robot is pretty mundane.  “It looks like a metal box, about the size of a large picnic cooler,” explained Thomas.  The robot uses a number of techniques to test a bridge’s steel lattice core.  One deploys sound waves to ferret out micro cracks, air pockets and splits.  The grant will also help fund a smart phone app that excavators can use to create an underground map of wires, on the spot, before they dig.

CAIT’s consortium of partners will share in the grant. They include Columbia University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Delaware, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Virginia, Utah State University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.



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Still No Contract as Talks Continue Between MTA, TWU

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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.


MTA, Unions May Be Talking for A While

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Subways and buses are still running in New York City - despite the lack of a contract between about 34-thousand New York City Transport Workers Union Local 100 members and their employer, the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Neither side offered an update, as talks continued Tuesday to reach an agreement.  The union contract expired Sunday.

But sources close to the negotiations say the MTA is pushing for a 5-year collective bargaining agreement, while the union wants a shorter term. Until the early 1980’s the union and the MTA usually made 2 year agreements.  Then the contracts got longer.  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 says the increases add up to between $4,500 and $5,000-dollars per year out of pocket for workers.  That translates to lost earnings for middle class workers, the union said.

The negotiations could drag on; the MTA laid off about 1,000 workers in 2010, and the workforce is pretty spare.  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.



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Barricades at City's Former Occupy Camp Are Removed

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Barricades surrounding Zuccotti Park, which served as a camp for Occupy Wall Street protesters, were removed Tuesday, allowing protesters to stream back in.

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New Yorkers Mixed As Iowa Caucuses Near

Monday, January 02, 2012

On Tuesday, Iowans will go to the polls for the Iowa caucuses, the first major electoral event of 2012 presidential elections. And while the open field of GOP presidential hopefuls has amped up nationwide media coverage of the caucuses, here in New York, some voters say they're suffering from caucus fatigue.


Shoppers Use Day Off to Head to Outlet Malls

Monday, December 26, 2011

Droves of shoppers used a day off from work to venture to the region's outlet malls during a holiday season that was a mixed bag for retailers, experts said.


DiNapoli: Payroll Tax Will Save NY Economy Over $1B

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The two month payroll tax cut extension agreed to by congressional leaders will save New York's economy $1.2 billion, according to analysis from State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office. 


Nordstrom Charity Store Nears Close of First Business Quarter

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nordstrom's Soho concept store — Treasure and Bond — will soon know how much money it has raised for two city charities at the close of its first quarter of business.


LIPA Picks PSEG to Manage Grid

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Long Island Power Authority has selected PSEG to manage its electric transmission and distribution.  


Tips on Tipping Doorman for the Holidays

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It’s that time of year again — tourists are shopping in the city’s landmark stores and the tree at Rockefeller Center is aglow in thousands of lights. It must be time to think about another New York ritual: the holiday bonus for the super and doorman.

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