Transport Workers Union workers rallied outside New York City Transit headquarters Thursday to protest what they called an "unfair contract" being proposed by the MTA.
Among the union's grievances is the cash-strapped agency's contention that the only way to give workers raises is to cut their benefits. The TWU also says the MTA wants to change work rules to expand employees' job functions, and to pay less for travel time and downtime while on the job. Their contract expires next month.
"They expect us to eat the zeros and it's not gonna happen," said TWU president John Samuelsen, referring to the MTA's current budget plan that calls for no salary increases for three years.
The MTA has struggled to balance its budget, having to make up for funds slashed by state legislators and poor economic conditions.
George Merriman, who drives a work train throughout the system, called the MTA's position towards the workers' contracts "draconian."
"People have mortgages, they have families to feed," said Merriman, 67.
Kevin Harrington, the union's vice president for rapid transit operations said they couldn't afford any more concessions.
"We all work for these S.O.B.s and we all know what they want," Harrington told the crowd. "The transit authority does not want to make your life better. They want to make your life worse."
Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja