By Ben Fractenberg
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT—“No layoffs!” “No cuts!”
That's what around 25 transit workers from TWU Local 100 were chanting outside of MTA Chairman Jay Walder’s high-rise home on Duane Street Wednesday afternoon.
The workers were protesting the recent layoffs of 600 station agents and several planned transit services cuts.
“By pulling out 600 booth clerks, it’s a public safety issue,” said union representative Abdul Awan, 39, who worked as a turnstile repairman. “They are the eyes and ears of the system.”
The workers also said that Walder was unfairly portraying bus operators working on-call at bus depots as spending their shifts playing pool and being lazy.
"That has to change," Walder told The Daily News on May 10th. "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."
The workers counter that the shifts, where they work 11 or 12 hours for half-pay, are necessary in case a driver gets sick or doesn’t show up to work.
They also held placards that read, “Walder Stop Playing Dirty Pool w/ Transit Riders and Workers.”
The MTA declined to comment on the swing shifts and said they have been working with the union toward solutions to close the budget gap.
“We’ve been talking with all of our unions for several months about the extent of our $800 million budget shortfall,” said MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin. “They have agreed the best chance we have to achieve a positive resolution is talk quietly and limit the resolution in the press.”
The MTA board voted to approve service cuts in March that included eliminating the M and V lines, cutting 33 bus routes and reducing subway weekend and night service.
“I want to get back to work more than anything,” said Carlin Donald, 50, a former station agent who was laid off in early May. “Nothing replaces another human being helping someone out.”