2005_12_kalikstrike.jpgThe MTA says their current offer is their "final offer" to the Transit Workers Union. And what's the offer? Three percent each year over a three year contract; the union wants 8% more. And benefits-wise, the MTA would ask new hires to pay 1% of their pay to go towards their health plans (workers do not do this now). Finally, the MTA wants to increase the retirement age from 55 to 62 after 30 years of service, whereas the TWU wants to lower the age to 50 after 20 years of service, for new hires; the TWU says there would be "two tiers" employees, which they don't want. (Here are some more of the union's demands, which include child care and the MTA's excessive challenges to the TWU's arbitration.)

The MTA's lead negotiator, Gary Dellaverson, says, "There are no talks scheduled because our offer is the best that we're going to come up with," and MTA chairman Peter Kalikow says, "There is no more." You may remember Dellaverson as the super pissed off guy last night, annoyed that TWU leader Roger Toussaint had this 11PM press conference with other labor leaders - Dellaverson had to come down and tamp down the speculation wrought by Toussaint's remarks. Anyway, if this is the MTA's last offer, and the TWU rejected it, what's going on this weekend? Will our favorite metro- and transit-best reporters have to continue camping out at the Grand Hyatt? Are they just pacing in front of the press conference lectern, the way we kept seeing on the WNBC live feed?

City Councilman John Liu, head of the Transportation Committee, blames the MTA for not negotiating a new contract in earnest much earlier. The Village Voice had an interesting take on what the MTA's low offer could mean to the city (less revenue, for one). And some local color stories: Newsday's Ellis Henican finds that Brooklyn Bridge walkers are wary of having more company, the NY Times found subway riders were confused near midnight last evening, and Daily News focuses in on how craiglist is being used to find commuting-during-strike buddies. Plus, Mayor Bloomberg said he was going to study his Spanish at the Office of Emergency Management's office last night, and WNBC's Andrew Siff wrote that many city officials were asking the reporters what was going on. Finally, WCBS 880 has MP3s from Mayor B, Chairman K, and more.

Photograph of MTA Chairman Kalikow, negotiator Dellaverson, and NYC Transit President Lawrence Reuter from Newsday