TWU on Docked Hurricane Pay: MTA Is “Stabbing Us in the Back”

11.08.12 Andy Cush

According to the president of New York’s transit workers union, the MTA recently reneged on a verbal agreement to compensate employees who were either unable to or told not to come into work on October 29th and 30th, the two days during which Hurricane Sandy was hitting the city at full force.

In a statement e-mailed to all union members, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen wrote that by refusing to pay employees for the missed days, the transit authority has “thoroughly demonstrated that their word means nothing, and that they do not know the meaning of good faith.”

“By this decision, management shows what they truly think of the round the clock effort we have made to get the bus and subway system back running after Hurricane Sandy,” Samuels added. “They show how little respect they have for their workforce.”

MTA spokesman Charles Seaton told ANIMAL that the MTA will only suspend pay for workers who didn’t contact their supervisor to say they wouldn’t be able work. “We realize that some of our workers are facing the same issues as others hit hard by this storm,” he said. “However, they still have the responsibility of contacting supervision and alerting us to their work status.  If someone never came in, never called, never told us what they were going to do, they will not be paid.”

During the storm, power, phone and internet service were sparse in much of the city, making communication difficult, and according to union spokesman Jim Gannon, all workers either contacted or attempted to contact their supervisors.

“It’s pretty typical of the way they conduct labor relations,” Gannon told ANIMAL. “On one hand, they’re thanking you for the great, heroic, miraculous job you’ve done getting the service back so quickly, and on the other hand, they’re stabbing you in the back. It’s nothing new.”

Gannon added that the union will pursue any avenues available to them in fighting for the docked pay, but made it clear that this “is not a strike issue.”

Union boss Samuelson echoed that urgency. “During the hurricane, and then during the mammoth effort to restore service, the MTA praised local 100 for the incredibly difficult work we performed,” he stated. “But actions speak louder than words, and we must never forget this assault on our paychecks.”

(Photo: MTAPhotos/Flickr)