While the news of Jay Walder’s sudden resignature stunned transit advocates this afternoon and left politicians praising him for his two years of service, his primary antagonists — Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union — had a vastly different take on the departure. They aren’t sorry to see him go in the least.
In a statement issued this evening, the union waved their goodbyes. “Transit workers won’t miss Jay Walder and quite frankly will be glad to see him go,” they said. “He has been antagonistic to the union and the workers from his first day on the job. His attempt last year to blackmail the union into major pay and other concessions led to gratuitous layoffs. He ushered in unprecedented service cuts in both subway and bus service, with particular insensitivity to already underserved areas of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.”
Walder and the TWU did not get along from Day One. Walder came to the MTA amidst a legal challenge against the TWU’s arbitration-awarded raises, and he fought them to the greatest extent of the law, losing at each level. Walder also instituted sweeping changes in staffing levels that led to the axing of many TWU members and had vowed to keep labor spending at current levels during the upcoming contract negotiations. That obviously would have meant more layoffs or no wage increases.
The TWU really let Walder have it in their statement. It continued: “He never grasped the notion that our bus and subway systems are the most basic and vital service afforded to New York’s working class. And he was ineffective in dealing with Albany to not only secure new funding for public transportation to avoid service reductions, but to protect the dedicated sources of transit revenue. He attacked his blue collar workforce and his own lower level white collar employees. But never looked to upper management on his “quest” for cost savings.
“He leaves New York City transit in worse shape than when he arrived less than two years ago. We will urge the Governor to appoint a new Chair who will view his workers as allies not the enemy, and a person who fully grasps the magnitude of the contribution of our public transportation to the economic vitality of New York.”
These are strong words from the TWU which just saw the biggest impediment to its next three-year contract resign. I’ll be discussing this and other Walder developments in a bit on the 11 p.m. news on NBC 4, and I’ll have more thoughts on the resignation later this evening.