New York City's subways and buses will run again Saturday under a controversial tentative settlement of a bitter 11-day transit strike.
Transport Workers Union leader John Lawe ordered his divided union back to work this evening. Dissidents returned but said Lawe will be unable to win the votes of a majority of his members for the new contract.
The management side also was divided. Mayor Edward Koch angrily denounced the settlement as too expensive and said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority negotiating team proved weaker than the city's people who had struggled in generally good spirits through their painful days without mass transit.
"The city won the battle in the streets," Koch said of New Yorkers' willingness to suffer during the strike. "The MTA lost it at the bargaining table." Koch referred to the city's financial problems by saying. "We are fighting our way out of a jungle, but this contract has set us back." It will cost an additional $271 million, he said.
The two-year contract calls for a 9 percent pay raise this year and an additional 8 percent next year. In return, the union agreed to give up paid coffee breaks, paid voting time on election day and other practices that will save management an estimated $34 million.
Koch faces negotiations with unions representing 238,000 municipal workers in June and lamented that the transit settlement will have a psychological effect on those talks. A municipal settlement that parallels the transit contract would bankrupt New York, he said.
Lawe's opponents within the union accused their leader of selling them out and predicted that the rank and file will turn down the contract in the required mail ballot that will take almost three weeks to complete. However, they said they would return to work pending that vote.
The tentative settlement leaves the 33,600 transit workers facing mandatory penalties of two days' pay for each day on strike, and leaves the union liable for $1 million in fines for disobeying a court injunction against the strike.
Lawe has said he will fight for amnesty from the financial penalties. Only the legislature can lift the mandatory penalties of the state law that forbids strikes by public employes.
The penalties would cost the average transit worker $125 for each day of the strike, or a total of $35 million for all union members, state officials said.
The settlement is certain to bring increased state taxes and an eventual hike in the 50-cent transit fare.Gov. Hugh L. Carey has promised not to increase the fare before January 1982, but that promise appears to be in jeopardy since the transit system had a $250 million deficit before the proposal new contract.
While Koch and dissident union members denounced the tentative agreement, Carey called it "fair and reasonable." He and MTA chairman Richard Ravitch said they would seek funds from the legislature and Congress to maintain the fare at 50 cents.
Ravitch said, "There are no winners and no losers," and he expressed hope that "John Lawe and I will walk arm-in-arm together" through Congress to lobby for more financial support.
The deadlock in negotiations was broken when management raised its wage offer. Its offer of 6 percent per year had been rejected just before the strike began.
Lawe urged his 45-member executive board, which is dominated by his opponents, to approve the contract and put it to a secret ballot. With one member absent on National Guard duty, the vote was 22 to 22, on the basis of which Lawe ordered his union back to work.
The end of the bus and subway strike was accompanied by simultaneous settlement of a walkout against the Long Island Rail Road, the nation's largest commuter line.
New York was not completely free of transportation problems, however. Workers threatened a Saturday strike against the PATH trains connecting New Jersey and the west side of Manhattan which had been running during the bus-subway strike.