Local 100 President John Samuelsen and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer teamed up at a Times Square press conference July 12, 2010 to urge a “huge public outcry” at MTA hearings July 13-14, 2010 against plans to close 89 more subway booths and fire an additional 220 Station Agents.
Samuelsen labeled MTA Chairman Jay Walder’s cost-cutting plans — while sitting on $185 million in federal stimulus dollars — “a crime against New York City transit riders.”
“Jay Walder is putting transit riders directly in harms way” by removing the Station Agents from the system despite advice to the contrary from the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee and a variety of law enforcement agencies.
He further accused Walder of being “totally out of touch” with the security concerns of riders by claiming that he uses the subways to commute from his downtown penthouse to MTA headquarters every day. “Jay Walder is surrounded by two burly, armed State Troopers whenever he steps into the subways,” said Samuelsen. “Jay Walder doesn’t have to worry about security. But everyday riders and New York’s working families do.”
Borough President Stringer echoed Samuelsen’s argument that Station Agents are a critical piece of the security network in the subways.
“What was the MTA thinking?” asked an incredulous Stringer. “It makes no sense to take away the eyes and ears of the system, reduce service, take away our first line of defense. The people underground are the people who are going to save us if there is a terror attack.”
The Borough President added his strong support for a TWU-sponsored bill in Albany that would place a moratorium on booth closings until a comprehensive safety study is completed by competent authorities.
Stringer affirmed that a long-term funding solution is needed from Albany, and he added that Mayor Bloomberg needs to be taking a more up-front role in the crisis. TWU President Samuelsen added that the Mayor has remained in the background on this issue because “he is trusting the opinion of MTA bureaucrats.”
Samuelsen received applause when he responded to a reporter’s suggestion that transit workers accept concessions by stating that transit workers should not have to pay to fix a problem they didn’t create. “Folks making $50,000 a year will not pay for the crimes of people making a billion dollars a year,” said Samuelsen.
Both leaders expressed a hope that a huge turnout of New Yorkers at the July 13-14 MTA hearings will turn the tide in favor of keeping the booths open and keeping Station Agents on the job.