Home Asides Walder’s new apartment; TWU’s Six Flags excursion

Walder’s new apartment; TWU’s Six Flags excursion

by Benjamin Kabak

As the TWU and Jay Walder square off over pay cuts and wage freezes, two stories garnered headlines that are sure to play in the labor battle. In this corner, we have The Observer with the Walder family’s new $1.599 million Upper West Side apartment. In the other corner, we have a $2 million trip to Six Flags for which the TWU paid $2 million. Let’s call it fodder for ignoring the real issues.

Walder worked for Transport for London and the high-powered consulting firm McKinsey before arriving at the MTA. He and his family certainly have the dollars to spend on living arrangements, and the fact that he spent money doesn’t hinder his transit credibility. The TWU should be delivering benefits for its members, and even though tickets to this Family Day outing went fast, the union doesn’t plan on such an extensive excursion in the future. Discretionary personal spending is discretionary personal spending, and no amount of it will change the fact that the MTA has some deep and serious financial issues.

You may also like


DMEddy July 30, 2010 - 3:02 pm

Still not a word on the possibly illegal way, and in any case inhumane way, many NYC Transit and MTA employees were laid off in past weeks. 2nd Avenue Sagas, you are losing your credibility.

Benjamin Kabak July 30, 2010 - 3:04 pm

The only layoffs the MTA has conducted lately, as far as anyone can say, concerned the very legal effort to dismiss station agents. But do tell me, what was this “possibly illegal” and perhaps inhumane layoff you’ve mentioned twice now?

No one has mentioned a word, other than you, of layoffs that were conducted illegally, and without more information, there’s nothing to go on. I take it you think every single news outlet in the city has lost its credibility over an allegedly illegal mass dismissal that hasn’t received a single droplet of ink.

bob July 30, 2010 - 3:14 pm

Actually, two weeks ago somewhere around 150-170 people showed up at 2 Broadway and were told they were no longer employed. A good number (over half) worked in the computer/information technology group that is supposed to be running all this fancy technology everyone is pushing for.

Funny how Walder doesn’t want to brag about this. Call up the public information office and ask. File a FOIA request if you have to. But it’s true.

Benjamin Kabak July 30, 2010 - 3:19 pm

It seems to me as though you’re talking about the $10 million communications consolidation plan that I did indeed cover early this month. Those layoffs were announced, and Walder mentioned them again this week at the board meeting just as he would any labor reduction/cost savings plan. I still don’t see how they’re illegal, but I’ll ask around. I highly doubt I turn up anything other than people upset that they’ve lost their jobs.

bob July 30, 2010 - 4:31 pm

Nope, what I’m talking about is not that. The people I’m talking about do maintenance on the IT systems that the TA uses. Others, I’m not sure what their position was. It was strictly TA – Prendergast put out a memo dated 7/16/10 about how difficult it was for him…sounding more than a bit like the head of BP wanting his life back.

The impression I get is that the employees had no advance knowledge of the layoffs. (For the computer administration positions that may be seen an necessary for security.) I make no charges about illegality – that’s another commenter.

Benjamin Kabak July 30, 2010 - 4:32 pm

You’re right. I spoke with the folks at Transit, and this was another administrative layoff. Here’s there statement from two weeks ago (which I didn’t receive until today):

More than 160 MTA New York City Transit administrative employees were issued WARN letters this morning, beginning of the 60 day period mandated by the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act which will culminate in layoffs on September 17. Non-represented employees were notified directly today of the imminent reductions. The unions of represented employees were also notified today. These lay-offs are part of the MTA’s ongoing effort to reduce costs in order to help fill an $800 million budget gap.

So it sounds legal and it sounds as though people are rightfully pissed about losing their jobs.

DMEddy August 2, 2010 - 6:16 pm

Thank you, Benjamin, for looking into this. The IT employees were unable to swipe into the building and were accompanied by guards to receive their paperwork. They had to schedule appointments to clear their desk, from what I was told. Some had worked at Transit for a long time. As can be expected in this recession, some had spouses out of work. It was difficult to know why these employees and not others. It just seems as if there were better ways to go about this, and I wonder how much difference these salaries made in the general budget.
There was a small item in the NY Daily News on the Saturday following the first wave of layoffs.

Josh H July 30, 2010 - 3:04 pm

It would be more of an issue if the TWU had paid $4 million for a $2 million trip to Six Flags, though.

bob July 30, 2010 - 3:10 pm

“He and his family certainly have the dollars to spend on living arrangements, and the fact that he spent money doesn’t hinder his transit credibility.”

Maybe not to you. But to those of us doing real work for five figure salaries (no raise for the past several years), who struggle just to pay rent on a small apartment, being told by people with six and seven figure salaries that we earn too much, don’t deserve retirement benefits, and really don’t deserve health care benefits either isn’t convincing. Sorry, but having an engineering degree I just don’t see the world the way consultants and lawyers do.

And according to the AMNY article the TWU trip was purchased by the previous leadership. A bad idea quite possibly, but the current leadership is just getting something for money already spent. And it doesn’t cost the riders a dime, one way or the other.

Paulp July 30, 2010 - 3:48 pm

Jeez what a slanted report: equating family day tickets that were previously bought and selling them to your members and the purchase of a million dollar home for someone who recieves a huge housing stipend is a credibility reducing momment.

Benjamin Kabak July 30, 2010 - 3:50 pm

They’re not being equated. The idea that either should be used as a salvo in the labor war — as is being done in the comments here — is being attacked. I’m not blaming the TWU for spending money on constituent services; I’m not going to criticize Walder for buying an apartment he can afford, housing stipend or not.

As I said, doing so just hides the real issues. I’m not trying to equate the two. Please try not to let that impact my credibility. They both have nothing to do with the real issues plaguing mass transit in NYC, and that’s the point I tried, poorly, to make.

John Paul N. July 30, 2010 - 5:04 pm

So why does Walder deserve a housing stipend with public money? He could easily choose not to accept it in order to be more credible to the unions.

That said, I do agree that highlighting either side’s “discretionary personal spending” in the management vs. labor union war only distracts from the financial issues of the MTA as a whole. Perhaps a better headline could have been thought in hindsight?

Brian | BK Southie July 30, 2010 - 8:07 pm

He is Chairman and CEO of the MTA. By definition, he has no credibility with the unions.

Or anyone else in New York, apparently.

nycpat July 31, 2010 - 1:53 pm

Sander had credibility with the unions.

Alon Levy July 31, 2010 - 4:27 pm

Sander didn’t do anything to reduce overstaffing, even on the managerial level.

David August 1, 2010 - 12:45 pm

is $1.6 million really a lot for an UWS family house? Just yesterday I was reading NYMag and they were profiling 4 studios under $1m in Manhattan… So I don’t really see what the outrage is — Manhattan real estate prices are outrageous for everybody.

What should the MTA chairman do? Go live out of state in NJ?? Give him a break guys.

Paulp521 August 1, 2010 - 9:18 pm

Man, you just proved the TWU’s case perfectly.

What should Jay do? How about get an apartment in the Bronx like me, and send his kids to public school like me, and ride the train everyday like me. Maybe he’ll realize just how much negative impact his lay-offs will have on the public.

Al D August 3, 2010 - 9:24 am

These are not his layoffs. The were necessitated by the State of New York withdrawing its funding. Contact your elected state representatives.

Al D August 3, 2010 - 9:19 am

CEO’s have houses and and penthouses worth many millons. Jay Walder negotiated his salary in good faith (as far as I know) with the State of New York. The State of New York agreed to the current terms of his employment contract. Once again, if there is a problem with this deal, blame the State of New York. Tell your elected state officials.


Leave a Comment