Sources: MTA considered swapping layoffs for raise freeze
The MTA has been playing hardball with the transit union, offering to scrap plans to lay off hundreds of workers if the TWU passed on raises for next year, top union officials said yesterday.
In recent meetings, the MTA said it would spare 500 station agents set to get pink slips if the Transport Workers Union Local 100 gave up 3.3 percent raises in 2011, the sources said. Next year’s raises are caught up in a court fight over the union’s three-year contract. The MTA had agreed to honor raises for 2009 and 2010 but bad finances prompted the agency to challenge the 2011 increases.
TWU spokesman Jim Gannon couldn’t confirm the MTA offer, but he said forgoing raises is “not going to happen.” An MTA spokesman denied that any deal was proposed.
Facing a nearly $800 million budgetary hole, MTA chief Jay Walder announced yesterday that the agency would lay off more than 1,000 transit workers — which include the 500 agents as well as administrators — to save $50 million this year.
“These layoffs are extremely painful, but we must live within our means,” Walder said.
The administrative layoffs will slash employees at headquarters by as much as 20 percent, though it hasn’t yet been determined who will get pink slips.
Meanwhile, station agents, who are posted at subway entrances, flooded the union hall with anxious calls about their jobs yesterday, and transit advocates predicted their layoffs would make the subways less secure.
“It makes the subways a scarier place. In many locations, it’s an invitation to turnstile jumping,” said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign.
The TWU is planning angry protests in opposition to the job cuts.