I have blogged about the battle between the MTA & Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU Local 100) on & off for a few years now. Throughout that time, there would be times of silence in which the two sides kept to themselves. However those occasions are rare as most times they are locked up in a fierce battle with one another. The latter has been the prevailing course of action over the last few months as both sides battle over the MTA’s financial woes vs the jobs & salaries of union members.
During this latest battle, I & the TWU have been very critical of the MTA for choosing to fight this battle in the media versus at the negotiating table. This was especially troubling to me considering the union has said on numerous occasions that it would sit down & discuss terms with the MTA. The two sides have been in discussions but once again, one side runs to the media at the first sign of a problem.
This time, I must call out the TWU for doing just that. It is clear that this is an attempt to paint the MTA in a bad light & gain some sort of public sentiment. The issue stems from the accusation that the transit agency nixed a $35M offer that would cut back on costs & jobs through attrition versus layoffs. Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has more:
The MTA rejected a union offer of approximately $35 million a year in employee contributions that would have avoided laying off workers, the transit union chief told the Daily News.
The offer would have also staved off some service cuts already in motion, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen said yesterday.
The union contributions were earmarked for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s participation in a state-approved early retirement program. The money would allow the authority to reduce head count more slowly through attrition – rather than abrupt layoffs.
Hundreds of pink-slipped bus drivers, mechanics and other workers have been told to turn in their uniforms and badges at a NYC Transit facility tomorrow.
Service cuts, including the elimination of dozens of express and local bus routes, have begun. Some routes saw their last runs Friday, and others shut down last night.
“We want the riding public to know this is on Jay Walder, and not on the union,” Samuelsen said, referring to the MTA chairman.
Click here for the complete report.
This one quote alone my Mr. Samuelsen, “We want the riding public to know this is on Jay Walder, and not on the union.” proves my point of hypocrisy by the union. Instead of running to the media & complaining, how about sitting down & continuing negotiations to hammer out a deal beneficial to both sides. However lets focus on the numbers here….
To be quite frank, $35M is a drop in the bucket in terms of what it would do for the MTA’s financial woes. The honest truth is that saving $35M here but not properly cutting costs across the board in other areas leads all roads back to square one, the huge mountain of debt killing the MTA. I once again want to shine the spotlight on commenter “Trainman” who brings up some great points when he said:
The MTA picture today is a disaster. The bottom line is that $35 million a year does not begin to address the structural disconnect between revenues and operating expenses. The MTA needs to STOP its capital plan, which is a disaster, lay off 25% of its white collar so-call workforce, raise bus fares by about 75%, implement zone pricing on subways, and put in place responsible labor costs for the future. The only viable answer that provides a sound mass transit future involves all of these measures.
As I mentioned here, I do feel there is a strong merit to the idea of stopping the Capital Plan as it clearly needs to be reevaluated. I do agree that there needs to be more layoffs in the white-collar positions at the MTA if cutting back on unnecessary positions is a priority. What is good for the workers in the trenches needs to be for white-collar employees as well.
Raising fares by 75% is something I can’t see happening as elected officials would have a field day waging war against that. Considering the amount of service we get in the region compared to other major cities, such a steep increase could still be seen as a good deal if the system was in proper condition in terms of quality with service to match. However that costs money as you all know so one battle at a time. Zone pricing is not happening plain & simple, I would be shocked if that were to ever happen again.
However overall “Trainman” is 100% correct as implementing in some way the solutions he mentioned are the keys to righting this ship along with proper funding from the city, state, & federal government. The MTA & its riders can’t turn this around out of their wallets alone. The agency can do all of the above but if the government does not step up to the plate & do the right thing, nothing else will matter.
xoxo Transit Blogger