New York, N.Y.—A tentative contract deal has been reached to end a 13-day-old strike by paratransit workers in Brooklyn and Staten Island, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 announced June 9.
The agreement with the Dallas-based contractor MV Transportation, which describes itself as the nation’s leading provider of paratransit services for elderly and disabled people, was reached after two days of federal mediation. Local 1181 said it includes “substantial wage increases, strong health benefits, and other critical improvements” for the more than 570 workers who work for MV under its contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for Access-A-Ride services.
“We are happy to report that we have reached a tentative agreement with MV that recognizes the commitment and dedication of these paratransit workers to safely transport the elderly and people with disabilities who depend on this service — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello said in a statement.
The union said it expects to hold a ratification vote soon.
MV workers in Brooklyn went on strike May 28, two weeks after they rejected the company’s “best and final offer” and voted to authorize a walkout. Local 1181 said the main issues unresolved after nine months of negotiations included wages and poor health care. Cordiello at the time called low wages “the human cost of privatization.”
The Staten Island workers joined the strike June 4.
“They’re calling us heroes, but we’re not heroes at the table,” ATU International President John Costa told strikers on a picket line in Brooklyn June 4. “Where’s the hazard pay? The money’s there.”
More than 50 ATU members have died from the COVID-19 virus in the past three months, he added.
“I am proud of these workers and the solidarity, resolve, and unity that they have shown during their strike, which was critical to securing the fair and just contract that they deserve,” Costa said in a statement. “This is a victory for living wages for transit workers, a victory for fair treatment on the job, and a victory for riders and their community.”