October 12, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – The MTA’s five-year capital plan is back on track and the potential threat to thousands of transportation jobs has been averted now that Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have reached an agreement on how to fund the more than $25 billion program.
The deal struck this weekend in which the City of New York will contribute $2.5 billion to the MTA’s capital plan, comes just a couple of days after the District Council of Carpenters joined DC 9 New York IUPAT, Painters and Allied Trades and TWU Local 100 in calling on the mayor to quit equivocating and chip in a lot more than the $657 million the city had initially pledged.
John Samuelsen, head of TWU Local 100, called the agreement a great win for the thousands of transit workers whose jobs are directly impacted by the MTA capital plan, and defended the union’s decision to publicly assail de Blasio’s reluctance to kick in more money.
The union’s scathing campaign included comical newspaper ads featuring the mayor operating a graffiti covered subway train and jumping a turnstile, while contending that that the city was not contributing its fair share the MTA’s capital plan.
“The TWU's aggressive media campaign that targeted the mayor, who was on the wrong side of this issue, had to be done to get the public involved and raise the level of attention being given to this important issue,” Samuelsen said in a statement.
The state had already extended $8 billion to the MTA’s capital plan, but Cuomo wanted the city to contribute $3.2 billion. The dispute served as the latest opportunity for the governor and Mayor de Blasio to perpetuate their ongoing feud with each other.
The ensuing funding agreement still leaves the MTA with a $700 million budget gap that must be addressed. The MTA, however, has already sought to identify some $2.2 billion in efficiency savings. TWU Local 100 is reasonably confident that an additional $700 million in savings can be achieved without resorting to significant cuts.
Under the new agreement, city-related projects get priority and monies earmarked for the MTA’s capital plan cannot be siphoned off for other state programs.
The MTA will unveil the newly-funded plan at an October 28 board meeting.
“Over three thousand TWU members earn their livelihoods keeping our transit system in a state of good repair, and if the failure to properly fund continued, it would have hurt workers and riders alike, to say nothing of the long term negative impact on the region’s economy,” Samuelsen added.