One of the mistakes that I have constantly criticized the UFT leadership for is not demanding real contractual gains at the start of collective bargaining negotiations.
When a union asks for a little, in the final settlement we will end up with even less but if we ask for more, we start the negotiations from a greater position of strength. The argument against my thinking is that a union that demands too much will lose public support.
A public sector union that agrees with me and has traditionally worked that way is Transport Workers Union Local 100. They are led by President John Samuelson.
Earlier this month TWU Local 100 held a 7,000 strong rally at MTA Headquarters in Manhattan where they made real demands for a fair contract. Their current agreement expires in January 2017.
Take a look at what they are asking for in negotiations with the MTA .
The list specified the demands as follows:
Substantial wage increase – continue raises above rate of inflation,
Eliminate health benefits deduction,
Increase longevity pay,
Cash out all unused sick leave – when resigning, retiring, or dismissed,
COLA for active and retirees,
10% night differential,
Improve Workers Comp benefits and procedures,
Workers Comp pay in first pay period, when not contested,
MTA to match 401(k) and 403(b) at 20%,
$20 meal allowance, Increase equity fund payment to maintainer titles to $960.
Health benefits and health –
Improve health benefits – including optical and dental for retirees, hearing aids,
Lifetime medical coverage for spouse if death before retirement,
Raise Medicare Part B to national coverage, 3D Mammograms covered (Women’s Table),
Improve High option,
Facilities for those who are nursing to express milk,
Increase time and coverage for cancer and wellness screenings,
Improve air quality in TA facilities,
Eliminate diesel powered equipment in shops and stations,
Healthcare upon hiring,
Braces for adults,
No placement on FMLA while on comp,
More restricted duty jobs,
Health club membership,
Back support as PPE.
These demands are local-wide. There are additional Departmental demands submitted by each of the seven Departments within TWU Local 100, specific to Departmental concerns.
The divisional demands would include the work rules.
This chart shows how they did in wages and benefits compared to the United Federation of Teachers in the last round of bargaining.*
Labor militancy is the only possible answer to our plight as public sector unionized employees, including teachers.
*Before anyone comments that Transit Workers pay a portion of their checks for healthcare, I know that but they didn't agree to the givebacks (savings) on healthcare that we agreed to in 2014 and we still must come up with more this fiscal year. The purpose of this post is to compare bargaining strategies of the two unions and suggest a path forward for labor that Verizon workers (in the private sector) were successful with also.