MTA calls off wage freeze after Biden signs COVID-19 stimulus

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MTA officials have called off plans to renege on schedule wage increase — after receiving an influx of $6.5 billion from the new stimulus bill.

“Now that Congress — under the leadership of Senate Majority Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and the bipartisan New York delegation — has approved an additional $6.5 billion in federal aid to the MTA, we are able to implement all previously negotiated general wage increases as scheduled and move ahead with contract negotiations,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said in a statement Thursday.

“Our hardworking employees have been the heroes moving heroes throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith with our labor partners to find a path forward that recognizes their dedication and safeguards the MTA’s long-term financial health.”

Transit officials floated the wage freeze at February’s MTA board meeting — to the outrage of labor leaders, who accused them going back on a negotiated 10 percent salary bump over the next four years.

The MTA’s move to withdraw the wage freeze was first reported by Politico. 

TWU Local 100, which accounts for all but 100 or so of the impacted workers, called it a “major victory.”

“It’s a smart move. It’s the right move,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said in a statement. “They were on a collision course with TWU Local 100, and they would have had the fight of their lives on their hands.”

Utano said the MTA should proceed to negotiate contracts with the rest of its unions.

More than 140 MTA employees have died from COVID-19 in the last year, according to official figures. But transit officials spent the bulk of 2020 mulling service cuts, layoffs and other measures to rein in spending as revenue from fares, tolls and taxes fell.

The influx of federal cash has allowed the agency to call off most of the cuts and resume work on its $54 billion capital program.

‘”Amtrak Joe’ has delivered a historic amount of funding for transit agencies across the country and for New Yorkers,” Foye said in a separate statement on Thursday, using a nickname for noted train lover President Biden.

“This significant $6.5 billion in critical federal funding will allow us to focus more on welcoming back riders instead of doomsday budget planning.”

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