MTA Chairman Opines On Union Work Rules

The battle between the MTA & unions (especially the TWU Local 100) is an editorial gift that keeps giving. The latest round continues to be about the pending layoffs the MTA says is necessary to help clean up an ever growing budget deficit. The battle lines are clear in this one as the MTA is focusing on cutting their deficit & unions like TWU Local 100 are about saving the jobs of their members.

Today’s edition of the New York Daily News has a report in which MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder opines on how union work rules are a “shame on the system”. Pete Donohue has more:

MTA chairman Jay Walder is bashing union work rules he says allow workers to play pool or read on the clock, calling them the “shame of the system.”

Rules embedded in labor contracts are hampering the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s efforts to increase efficiency – and save money, Walder told the Daily News.

“That has to change,” Walder said. “It might mean some of our bus drivers aren’t as good at playing pool as they are now, but we might have to bear that cost.”

Some bus depots have pool tables in crew rooms for drivers to use on their so-called swing shift, a period of time when drivers receive half-pay but aren’t behind the wheel.

A typical bus driver’s schedule can span 12 hours: driving a route for four hours during the morning rush and another four hours in the evening rush, the peak travel periods when service is most needed.

During the middle four hours – say, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – drivers don’t have any work-related duties but are still on the clock.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen bristled at Walder’s comments.

“Our bus operators are away from their families 13, 14 hours a day and are compensated for it,” Samuelsen said.

“The MTA has agreed to these terms for 50 years – and it’s fair. Jay Walder is doing the exact thing the MTA has accused the union of doing in the past: trying to negotiate a contract in the newspaper.”

Click here for the complete report.

Let me first start off by saying the MTA is showing how they have mastered hypocrisy with the venue chosen for Jay’s opinions. Look back throughout the long battle history of the MTA & unions, & one specific tactic usually was thrown at the unions. The tactic was the MTA accusing the union of trying to negotiate their points through the media. Yet, this is exactly what Jay is doing.

I read the comments left to this article & some are your typical anti-union idiocy. Our region seems to have plenty of people who think driving a bus for instance is so easy, a caveman could do it. They choose to completely ignore how hard driving a bus is along with the big safety risks that face drivers daily. According to these “experts”, any person off the street could drive a bus & they should not get paid much to do so.

Are there some changes that should be looked into? Yes, I would be the first to say that some changes should be adapted in terms of rules in place for workers. However everything is not as cut & dry as the MTA & uninformed riding public have you believe. Instead of dishing out the reality of how complex things are, they revert to the typical bash the enemy routine. What does the MTA have to lose in doing that? They have a majority of the riding public supporting the idiocy that most transit workers are lazy & overpaid.

Why doesn’t the MTA take this same hard line stance with the levels of redundant management positions & the waste that goes on there? Why do they continue to always try & paint most of their problems on the blue-collar workforce? If they took this same intensity towards cutting wasteful management positions, cutting out waste & budget overruns with projects, getting better deals on products & services, etc…, their budget woes would be severely lower.

So Jay, instead of attacking the workers “pool skills”, focus on all of the real issues within your control at the MTA instead of cherry picking the ones that best protect your type & subsequent peers underneath you. Is that too much to ask for?

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Everybody SAYS that there are wasteful management positions but nobody identifies them. Not to mention the wasteful non-management positions. What constitutes this amorphous mass?

The MTA, the unions, and the politicians say they exist, so they must exist.

They said it, I believe it, that settles it.

I’m afraid Walder, having worked in London, is quite capable of identifying wasteful work rules. And he’s not the one accusing the union of negotiating in the paper — and good for him for doing so, as long as TWU both insists on doing so *and* has unreasonable work rules….

Hello Anonymous,

Actually he has accused the union of doing that. Throughout history, the MTA has routinely thrown the accusation out there that the unions were trying to negotiate contracts through the media.

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