Are the contract negotiations between the MTA and TWU Local 100 about to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n? Maybe! The two sides are still talking but the union so far has refused (understandably) to take a strike off the table and, just as worrisome for straphangers, today the Daily News reports it is set to release a flyer to workers all but sets the stage for a subway slowdown. Time for some midwinter biking?

Since it would be illegal under the Taylor Law for the union to call for a slowdown (or plan a strike) TWU Local 100 has reportedly used some very careful wording. Instead of saying the words "slow down," the flyer set to go out today focuses on last week's four deadly subway accidents and urges subway conductors to be more careful (as surprising as last week's deaths were, underground fatalities are not nearly as uncommon as many think).

The flyer makes no mention of MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota or contract negotiations. It appears to have been very carefully crafted, with no specific direction on slowing down when entering a station.

“We might prevent some incidents, especially those where a passenger jumps, falls or is pushed in front of an oncoming train,” it states.
Then, in bold print, it continues: “Train operators can increase their reaction time by entering stations with extra care.
If anyone missed the point, it’s repeated almost immediately in the text:
“So, in the interest of safety, train operators should enter stations, especially crowded stations, with enhanced care. Even if we prevent one tragedy, it would be worth it.”

For what it is worth, union leader John Samuelsen swears the flyer is "strictly" about safety and not about a slowdown: "It’s not designed to interfere with train service, but to protect the riding public, and that should be clear to everyone," he says.

Meanwhile, the Post today focuses on another angle holding up the ongoing negotiation, besides raises for workers. According to e-mails obtained by the tabloid through the union, the MTA is using "psychological warfare" now and has instituted "a quota on the number of disciplinary violations" that must be assigned workers each month. But is the Authority really? The MTA, for its part, has disavowed the e-mail the Post found, "saying they were the work of a single employee, and vehemently denied ever endorsing quotas."