TU urges drivers to slow subways as MTA issues a rebuke to union

Ki-Suk Han's wife Serim Han is escorted into the news conference by city Comptroller John Liu. Han was one of two Elmhurst residents who police say were pushed in front of trains and killed. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The MTA has ordered union officials to cease distributing fliers urging subway motormen to cut their speed as they enter subway stations in the name of safety, suggesting it appeared more likely the union was trying an illegal slowdown tactic to improve its stance in labor negotiations.

Transport workers Union Local 100 has been negotiating with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority since Jan. 15, 2012, when its contract expired.

Fliers were handed out by union officials to subway personnel during the past weekend advising motormen to slow down as they approached stations, cutting speed to 10 mph from 30 to 35 mph.

“Blow your horn, slow down and proceed with caution,” the literature advised, adding that slowing on approach to stations could contribute to preventing deaths in the subway.

The union literature said avoiding an accident “and saving yourself the emotional trauma and potential loss of income that go with it is worth a few extra minutes on your trip.”

Two Elmhurst straphangers were killed when they were pushed onto the tracks in Manhattan and Sunnyside last month.

The MTA sent e-mails to the union taking issue with the union slowdown suggestions.

“Any slowdowns in the system which results from this activity may be considered a job action,” wrote Christopher Johnson, MTA vice president of labor relations.

“Cease posting these unauthorized notices,” Johnson said.

Transit officials said a slowdown in the subways could cause a backup throughout the subway system.

Strikes as well as slowdowns are illegal under the Taylor Law, which was passed after the first strike in the New York City subways in 1966, a 12-day shutdown headed by union leader Michael J. Quill, who replied to a court order to halt the walkout by proclaiming “the judge can drop dead in his black robes.”

The most recent transit strike in 2005 resulted in heavy fines against Local 100 as well as the loss of its checkoff arrangement, which provides that union dues are deducted from workers’ paychecks.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

Posted 3:51 pm, January 17, 2013
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