The MTA is nearing its financial endgame. As the Senate prepares to vote next week on the latest MTA funding proposal, the transit authority is moving ahead under the reasonable assumption that the plan will not pass and that the Doomsday budget will have to go into effect.
Yesterday, the agency unveiled details surrounding the grace period for stockpiled Metrocards. Today, we discuss a different issue — a hiring freeze. In anticipation of the looming financial crisis, the MTA has implemented an agency-wide hiring freeze. While no one has been fired yet, no new employees will be brought on, and positions left empty through attrition and retirement will remain empty.
“The executive director and CEO has instructed each of the agency presidents to have a hard hiring freeze, which means unless it’s an absolute emergency, no slot should be filled,” MTA Spokesman Jeremy Soffin said to NY1’s Bobby Cuza.
The decision was announced to the MTA’s agency presidents in a memo by CEO and Executive Director Elliot Sander. The Post got its hands on that memo, and it is a memo familiar to many in today’s economy. In addition to a hiring freeze, the MTA is limiting all other kinds of employment-related activities. Take a look:
“A hiring freeze is effective immediately — Only offers that have already been made can remain in place.”
“Overtime — Additional overtime is not permissible unless it can be proved that it is required to meet scheduled service.”
“Purchases — If you have to even think about it, don’t do it.”
“Professional/Contractual Services — Please consider using existing staff wherever possible to replace professional and contractual services which cannot otherwise be delayed or deferred.”
“Excess Employees — Please carefully re-examine the levels of excess employees and also any reimbursable employees that are not currently matched with a reimbursable project.”
These specific directives are related to what Sander called a need to “do everything possible to conserve cash.” Things, folks, are not looking up for the MTA.
I know many advocates for transit in New York City believe employment to be the Achilles’ Heel of this giant bureaucratic mess. Countless studies have trumpeted the shocking number of redundant and inefficient workers in all ranks of the MTA, and as the agency is gearing up to cut staff, those protesting the service cuts would rather see personnel ranks slashed significantly first.
In the end, though, this is just another reminder about the pressures we should be applying to our State Senators. If Albany doesn’t come through — if this latest proposal, flawed as it is, fails — this memo from Sander will represent just the tip of an iceberg destined to sink transit in New York City.