Alongside other cost-cutting moves that will eliminate subway and bus lines, nix free student MetroCards, and reduce service, the MTA has announced that it will fire more than 1,000 workers. In an effort to save a projected $50 million, the agency will lay off more than 600 unionized and non-unionized administrative workers, cutting 15 percent of the MTA's administrative payroll. The agency will also deliver pink slips to up to 500 NYC Transit station agents, who are represented by the Transport Workers Union.
The MTA originally planned to reduce station agent staffing by not rehiring after workers retire, according to the Times. But now, in a decision that would bring the first layoffs to the transit union in decades, the agency says it must fire unionized employees. Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen told the Daily News the cuts are shortsighted: "Their proposed reduction of station staff amounts to less than 1% of their multibillion-dollar budget ... The value of a human presence in the event of a human catastrophe in the subway is absolutely priceless."
Last fall, nearly 300 station agents were reassigned to other jobs. According to the Post, layoffs at the 70,000-employee agency could begin "in the next several days." Additional layoffs, which could include bus drivers, might take place in the summer. MTA Chairman Jay Walder defended the layoffs in a statement:
The State's economic crisis demands that the MTA move quickly and decisively to cut costs, and that is exactly what we are doing ... These layoffs are extremely painful, but we must live within our means and make the tough decisions that businesses and families across New York are making.