NYDN Editorial: Unions Should Follow MTA Lead

It is extremely clear that the saga between the MTA & Transport Workers Union Local 100 will continue to dominate this blog for quite some time. The latest in this saga stems from an editorial in today’s New York Daily News about how it is time for the unions to follow the MTA’s lead by cutting costs & jobs:

The chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is laying it on the line to the agency’s unionized labor: Now is the time to increase productivity for the good of both the public and the workforce at large.

Confronting an $800 million budget deficit, Jay Walder has slashed headquarters management personnel by up to 20%, renegotiated vendor contracts, imposed service cuts and begun to eliminate 3,000 jobs. Some 1,500 will be laid off.

Now he is seeking cost savings by rewriting contract rules that, for example, bar the MTA from consolidating maintenance tasks, such as locomotive or air conditioning repair, in single shops.

Meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, Walder was characteristically blunt: “We should have a well-paid and well-compensated workforce. I’m not actually taking anything away from that, but I think the quid pro quo of that is we should have a productive workforce, and I think we have a series of work rules and practices that have developed over many years that are all about how people effectively get paid for not working, and I think that’s really where the shame of the system is, and if we want to really attack what has to be changed today, we have to be attacking this.”

Right he is.

At a time when riders are paying more for less and the MTA is throwing station agents and others out of jobs, featherbedding and restrictions that promote idleness are unconscionable.

Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen said Walder has yet to provide a list of proposed work rule changes. Which should be all the invitation Walder needs to open, it is hoped, a fruitful dialogue. The two men have a great deal to discuss, because there are many inefficiencies in the depots and workrooms of the MTA’s subway, bus and commuter line operations.

Click here for the complete editorial.

Some of the proposals listed make some common sense. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to defend unions when it is called for, but I will also admit that they too could play a role in helping out with the budget deficit while not hurting their members.

I do take a bit of an issue with whomever wrote this editorial though. He or she seems to be blindly defending the MTA in thinking the unions are a big obstacle for solving these budget woes along with thinking the MTA has done enough. Believe me, they have not done all that they could do. There are still layers upon layers of unnecessary management positions & redundancy that could be eliminated.

It should be interesting to see how long it will take for MTA Chairman Jay Walder to sit down & communicate with union leaders instead of fighting the battle through the media. If real solutions are to be found, real dialogue needs to occur. Anything less is doing a disservice to both sides.

Lastly, I am getting sick & tired of the idiotic comments or beliefs rather that MTA workers do not possess much intelligence or skill sets. Some of the smartest people I know happen to work for the MTA & not because it was the only job they could do. This notion that driving a bus, train, etc… is so easy that anyone could do it is ludicrous.

When having such a job was the “in thing”, where were all these experts lining up for what they feel is higher than average pay for such easy work? These same clowns who write such idiocy are the same people who probably could not change their oil or a flat tire properly much less operate a bus or train.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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