A labor arbitrator Tuesday blocked changes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s service plan, saying the plan would violate a contract with Transport Workers Union Local 100. The MTA argued it is trying to better align subway schedules to current commuting patterns.
Beginning in June, the MTA had planned to reduce Monday and Friday service on seven lines: the 1, 6, 7, F, E, L and Q. In turn, it planned to increase rush-hour weekday service on the A and C lines and boost G, J and M weekend service. The plan, unveiled in December, came in the wake of riders’ calls for greater weekend service. Transit officials said the strategic redistribution would save the agency $1.5 million this year.
But TWU Local 100, the powerful union that represents a majority of the MTA’s workforce, objected to the changes. Labor leaders argued that the service adjustments would create irregular schedules for conductors and train operations. Arbitrator Howard Edelman agreed, forcing the MTA to shelve the changes.
The dispute could be a forerunner of upcoming clashes between transit and labor leaders as the MTA seeks a fiscal rescue in the state budget due to its projected $600 million operating deficit this year. If it does not get financial assistance, MTA Chief Executive Janno Lieber has warned, it might turn to drastic service and staff cuts to balance its books.
Local 100 President Richard Davis cast the decision as a win for both riders and transit workers, noting that weekday service cuts would have forced riders to wait longer on platforms and experience more crowded conditions. For workers, the changes would have created unacceptable starting and ending shift times, he argued.
To complicate matters for the MTA, the union’s contract is set to expire May 15. Contract negotiations are expected to begin in earnest soon and transit workers undoubtedly will want a raise to keep pace with recent inflation. You can read more here.
Subway ridership is finally on the upswing since covid. It seems the MTA has more headwinds to deal with. As always, we will keep you updated on all things NYC!