State Sen. Lee Zeldin called on the MTA to rescind 8 percent pay raises for managers and other nonunion employees and said the decision was irresponsible at a time when services have been reduced and fares increased.
An agency board member on Sunday defended the salary hikes and said Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Thomas Prendergast solicited input from appointed board members before he made the decision.
Zeldin argued that managers must also be responsible leaders. "As a manager there is an inherent responsibility to be a leader and an important aspect of that is to lead by example," he said Sunday.
Zeldin (R-Shirley) sits on the State Senate's Transportation Committee and is running for Congress against Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).
Prendergast on Wednesday authorized all full-time, nonunion-represented employees to receive a hike in their base salary of 4 percent, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013.
A spokesman confirmed Saturday that the plan includes another 2 percent raise this year and the next, for a total pay hike of 8 percent.
The nonunion workers make up 8,000 of the MTA's 68,000-member workforce, and range from managers to secretaries, spokeswoman Meredith Daniels said Sunday. The raises will cost the agency about $25 million a year.
Mitchell Pally, an MTA board member and chief executive of the Long Island Builders Institute, said on Sunday that Prendergast informally asked appointed board members before giving out raises.
"I think it was fair to say most, if not all, board members felt it was an appropriate thing to do and an appropriate time," Pally said.
Daniels said with all the union pacts in place, "it's only fair that nonunion employees who have gone six years without a raise should get them as well."
Some employees have balked at management posts because they would have been paid less than employees they would supervise after the most recent union pacts, Pally said.
In July, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo brokered a deal to give more than 5,000 LIRR workers raises totaling 17 percent over 6½ years.
Zeldin said the raises he wants revoked are different from the raises given to LIRR workers in July.
"The process this summer was under collective bargaining. Here he [Prendergast] is just trying to make himself Mr. Popular with his managers," Zeldin said.
A June report by the Empire Center for Public Policy said that two-thirds of the 10,482 employees with total pay of at least $100,000 were hourly employees, including police officers, blue-collar workers and their supervisors.