A group of MTA station agents marched on Jay Street from union headquarters Wednesday, demanding that the railroad and its union support their jobs and maintain station clerks.
The march, under the banner of United Voice NYCTA, comes as the MTA is considering laying off more than 8,000 employees should they not receive a bailout, right now up to $13 billion to avoid layoffs, cuts in service and dramatic increases in fares.
Many among the station agents say their jobs are in danger as the MTA no longer accept cash at token booths because of the Covid-19 pandemic and only do card exchanges, leaving them with less to do each day. Some clerks say customers get upset with them after a Metrocard doesn’t work in a machine and they simply can’t help.
The group marched to Brooklyn Plaza at the base of the Manhattan Bridge on Jay Street to sound off to the public, the MTA and their union, the Transit Workers Union, that their jobs are threatened.
Jenae Moret has worked for NYC transit for 10 years, started as a cleaner and said she is worried about her job.
“The reason why I got this group of beautiful people is because we felt we were the underdogs of our department,” she said. “Most of us have under 10 years and sometimes it goes unnoticed that people with less time on the job can’t fight for something on the job. That is the main reason why I got us together. I have a child, most of us have children, we want to be able to bring stuff home to our children and be able to continue to work and not have our jobs on the line.”
She said Covid showed “injustice” in her workplace, as many employees became sick.
“We can’t do our jobs without having cash in the booth,” she said. “It’s unnerving to have people come to the booth every day and say ‘what are you here for’, and honestly I’ve been going to work lately and I have to ask why am I here?”
Jerimiah Williams, a station agent for just one year, said “we are all fighting for the same cause.”
“We want to save our jobs, help out the customers – we all took the civil service test to become station agents – we took money out of our pockets and most of us had jobs already and left those jobs to take this one,” he said. “We were so happy, we had a city job, beautiful benefits, a pension. We come here to work hard every day dealing with the general public, even the homeless and working through the pandemic and getting sick. They to hear about potential layoffs, it’s very disheartening.”
Williams said that of 422 stations, only 12 were performing cash functions. He urged attendees to “band together,” and not “give transit everything they want because they are a conglomerate with billions of dollars, and it’s not fair to us and to the customers.”
Teisha O’Connor, a station agent for two years, said she doesn’t feel the union is protecting them properly.
“I’ve been very vocal about asking my brothers and sisters how they feel about how things are being handled by the union and they are very upset,” O’Connor said. “there are a lot of people who have a voice and feel their job is in jeopardy. That is why United Voices is here to speak for brothers and sisters who can’t. We are concerned about how our department is benignly handled by the union and there is nobody who is standing up for stations.”
Marty Goodman, a retiree who joined the protest today as a former executive in the union, said jobs are imperiled and the MTA is pitting older union members against younger ones.
“The contracts were sold on the backs of the new people,” Goodman said. “The MTA is dividing the union against each other – we need to stick together, the titles have to mobilize together and demand a mass membership meeting with Local 100. You can overrule a president if you get to vote at a mass membership meeting. You can turn it around – let’s put 40,000 members in front of the MTA and make them back off.”
Also on hand was Diane Morales, a candidate for Mayor, said she would stand by the union members and support all city workers if she were elected.