MTA chairman Jay Walder recently bashed union work rules that are allegedly keeping the Authority from increasing efficiency. Calling them "the shame of the system," Walder blasted things like the "swing shift," a period of time that lasts up to four hours where bus drivers receive half pay between morning and evening shifts. Many spend it playing pool in bus depots. Walder told the Daily News, "That has to change. 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."
Walder also complained about union turf rules that prevent bus drivers from being scheduled in two different boroughs on the same day, and rules that let drivers who call out sick get paid for their 12 hour "run" instead of the two, four hour shifts they would normally work. He said, "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." Now what would give him that idea?
The MTA is already trying to avoid extra payroll payments by laying off 250 station agents, but Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen says taking away swing shift pay is unfair to workers, many of whom are away from home for 14 hours at a time. He slammed Walder for going to the press, saying, "The MTA has agreed to these terms for 50 years - and it's fair. Jay Walder is doing the exact thing the MTA has accused the union of doing in the past: trying to negotiate a contract in the newspaper."