Home Transit LaborTWU TWU ‘won’t miss Jay Walder,’ ‘glad to see him go’

TWU ‘won’t miss Jay Walder,’ ‘glad to see him go’

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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Andrew D. Smith July 21, 2011 - 9:02 pm

No praise of Walder will demonstrate his value a tenth as much as this.

And lest anyone accuse me of neglecting the genuine value of happy and motivated workers, I acknowledge the value of both. But transit workers have so beaten riders and taxpayers over the past five decades that only a massive reworking of the relationship can give this city any hope of even saving its current system, let alone improving upon it.

And a reworking like that is going to enrage people who are used to making very good money for doing very little work and retiring very young with massive pensions.

Until MTA workers are expected to put up world-class productivity at market clearing wages, any MTA head who is not passionately loathed by transit workers will be a failure who is betraying riders and taxpayers.

Donald July 21, 2011 - 9:57 pm

What do you mean by “retiring very young”? Transit workers are not eligible to retire until 55. That is in contrast to cops, who can retire after 22 years regardless of age or santiation workers who can retire after 20 years regardless of age.

bob July 21, 2011 - 10:33 pm

Actually there are a variety of pension plans, depending on when you were hired. Used to be 62/10 (age/vesting), then they implemented 57/5. There was a 55/25 but I don’t think it lasted long because of the huge vesting requirement. Unless you joined young it hurt you more than it helped you.

It’s very important to point out that the lower age plans have higher contribution rates. And those additional contributions do not stop at 10 years as does the basic 3% of the 62 plan. That benefit (and it’s a big one!!) was courtesy of Rudy “fiscally responsible” Guiliani. Even though I benefit from it, I thought he was nuts to agree to it.

How much you get in the pension depends on years of service. And NYCERS has rules so that overtime has a very limited effect. Note that in all those articles about overtime abuse it was people from MN & LIRR at the top of the lists. They have different plans.

bob July 21, 2011 - 10:53 pm

For those who really want the details:

Go to NYCERS.ORG, choose “forms & brochures” on the top row, under “Brochures” click on “Special Plans” or page down to the “Special Plan Brochures”. The last 3 are of most relevance for Transit employees, but if you want to know about other titles, you can find out too. Note that cops, fire, and teachers have different pension plans.

Eric F. July 22, 2011 - 8:44 am

“Transit workers are not eligible to retire until 55.”

Do you realize that people hauled by the transit system include individuals who are 10, 15 or more years older than that who are going to work every day?

Hank July 22, 2011 - 11:44 am

Amen to that. Retiring at 55 is a joke.

nycpat July 22, 2011 - 3:30 pm

Drive a bus or train or work on the tracks for 25 years. See what a joke it is.

Rick July 22, 2011 - 5:18 pm

it’s called a job, get over it… retiring at 55 is a joke, MTA workers kill me… smh

Donald July 22, 2011 - 5:52 pm

Work as a track worker for a few years and then tell me retiring at 55 is a joke. Easy to bash jobs when your sitting in front of a computer and never ever have to go into the tracks with live 3rd rails.

Bolwerk July 23, 2011 - 8:39 pm

Uh. You’re free to try to find another job.

Nathanael August 4, 2011 - 12:03 am

I don’t mean to be callous, but Donald, mine workers and even fast food workers have worse working conditions than track workers. And generally have no pensions.

nycpat July 22, 2011 - 7:21 pm

I am over it . I think the pay and benefits are about right. Less pay or vacation or no pension – I wouldn’t do it.

William Parrella July 24, 2011 - 12:40 pm

Try working the tracks in this weather,the midnight shift and holidays without weekends off for a few years before casting stones. We took the job for the benefits and job security in exchange for working those hours and conditions. Pass the exams we had to and join us if you think it’s so great. I’m sure you will change your tune.

nycpat July 25, 2011 - 12:52 am

You tawkin to me? I’m a T/O.
I agree with you.

Nathanael August 4, 2011 - 12:01 am

Agreed. I’m a big fan of unions… but the NY local of the TWU is a discredit to its members and a discredit to the very concept of unions. If you’re going to get good wages, you have to do world-class work under world-class work rules, and they consistently refuse to, and then they badmouth people who ask them to. They badly need to be replaced with workers willing to elect a union leader who cares about doing good work.

Nathanael August 4, 2011 - 12:08 am

I’m a big fan of unions, but the NYC local of the TWU has proven a disgrace for years, and is frankly giving unions a bad name. The consistent refusal to modernize work rules is just asinine; only the LIRR and Metro-North unions are worse. If you’re going to get good pay and good benefits, you have to do *good work* in order to retain any public sympathy, and there is far too much documentation of that *not* happening, particularly on the maintenance side.

Walder dealt well with the unions in London and was respected by them. The TWU in NY hates him. Who is the problem here? It’s not Walder.

John Paul N. July 21, 2011 - 9:10 pm

If Walder had said, “I’m not going to decrease your pay (or fight against the arbitration), but I must ask that these work rules must be changed,” which in turn would have controlled overtime and allowed for better streamlining of operations, would he have gained the respect of this union while he did his job? I doubt it, but I’d like to think so. This particular union made the word “union” a shameful word, not only to New Yorkers but nationwide, the last time in 2005, and that was before Samuelson. Have the unions (and not individual drivers) done anything to regain the public’s trust or respect? I haven’t seen it so far since.

bob July 21, 2011 - 10:39 pm

Overtime is already controlled by management. If they are using it foolishly that isn’t the unions fault. If you expect people to work extra hours for free, forget it. It’s also illegal.

Do keep in mind that sometimes overtime makes sense. Having someone work an extra hour or two can make a lot more sense than hiring an additional person with full benefits.

JR July 21, 2011 - 9:34 pm

The fact that the TWU is happy to see him go is reason enough for everyone else to be saddened by his departure.

John-2 July 21, 2011 - 9:35 pm

Considering Cuomo’s stance so far on cutting back public sector employee compensation packages, and his possible desire to run for president in 2016 as a Democrat who “gets things done”, my guess is the TWU is not going to get a new MTA chief more mailable to their demands than Walder was. Cuomo knows the history of New York City/State politics well enough to know the history of John Lindsay and the transit strike of 1966 — the TWU could be wishing Walder was back in office by the end of the year.

Chris July 21, 2011 - 11:09 pm

What about the 1966 strike was not a success for the union? They won massive concessions, despite the law giving Lindsay all the power he could want to hold them to the fire, and also won an amendment to that law to increase the collective bargaining power of the union in future negotiations. Organized labor was cemented as the strongest political power in the city, a position which it arguably still holds today, though perhaps the financial concerns have surpassed it.

John-2 July 22, 2011 - 12:22 am

That’s the point — most people peg the start of the path to New York’s bankruptcy crisis in 1975-76 as Lindsey’s inability to deal with Mike Quill and the TWU a decade earlier, which opened the door to wide scale concessions to all of the city’s public sector unions, above what could be supported through the local tax base. Cuomo knows that, and he knows that his best path to any higher office is as someone who is fiscally tough but socially liberal (which ironically is pretty much how Ed Koch beat his dad in the ’77 NYC mayoral primary). Anyone he nominates as Walder’s replacement is going to be exepcted to play hardball with the union this fall and winter.

nycpat July 22, 2011 - 2:27 am

It’s hardly fair to blame it all on civil servants. Welfare and other social spending was totally out of control.

John-2 July 22, 2011 - 9:34 am

True, but the main point was Lindsay just gave up saying ‘no’ to any special interest group asking for more money two weeks into his mayoralty, after campaigning (and winning) under the idea he would challenge the excesses he claimed the Wagner Administration had allowed to happen. It’s also the reason in part that we have the MTA today, because after the ’66 strike, Lindsay didn’t want to have the responsibility of handling the next TWU negotiations and punted the problem to Rockefeller, who used it to not just gain control of the buses and subways, but use it as an excuse to take over TBTA and finally kick Robert Moses into retirement (not that that shouldn’t have been done about 20 years earlier, but when people complain about the lack of city control of its own mass transit operations, again in all goes back to Lindsay and the ’66 strike).

pea-jay July 21, 2011 - 9:37 pm

If TWU thinks Cuomo will put up a more Union-friendly CEO, they’re in for a rude awakening. While the governor isn’t openly hostile to unions like the Walkers or Christies out there, signs would indicate he’s not going put up a TWU push-over either. I could be wrong but I have to think the next MTA chief is going to take a harder line with the various labor agreement up for negotiations this year. And perhaps that was one factor Walder left; not wanting to deal with this phase.

Nathanael August 4, 2011 - 12:17 am

Walder was cooperative with unions in London and has no interest in being a union-buster from what we can tell. Despite the TWU’s insane attitude towards him.

No wonder Walder left.

Well, good luck to Cuomo in breaking the TWU. I hope he really breaks it so that it dissolves. Perhaps the replacement transit workers can form a less demented union. One which supports congestion pricing and modern technology….

nycpat July 21, 2011 - 9:59 pm

I think Walder quit because he got the word from Cuomo that unless he broke the TWU AND took most of the flack for it no help from the state would be forthcoming. Walder figured it wasn’t worth it. I shook his hand several times, including the day after the blizzard and wish him luck.
Cuomo is going to crucify theTWU on a cross of personal ambition.

Benjamin Kabak July 21, 2011 - 10:01 pm

Without having any additional information, I think he quit because he got an offer to go work somewhere for around 6-7 times what he’s making at the MTA and doesn’t have to deal with the same headaches. The labor situation was just one more item in the column against staying.

nycpat July 21, 2011 - 10:30 pm

Yes, but the labor situation would have a personal impact on him by the time the TWU was through. Inflatable rats and sloganeering outside his houses would be the least of it. Who needs it?
But I think the suddenness of it has something to do with Cuomo’s plans. Plans that Walder doesn’t have to be a part of because he has other options.

Alex C July 21, 2011 - 10:10 pm

I am a firm supporter of unions. When the workers in said unions care about their jobs (see: UAW). Way, way, waaaaay too many MTA employees just don’t give a damn about their job and don’t bother to do even a half-assed job. The union doesn’t discipline them. On the contrast you have those who truly care about their jobs and want to do things right, and I’ve seen many of these conductors and other personnel who do a *great* job. They end up having their reputations tarnished by the percentage of MTA workers who should be fired on the spot. Basically, the union needs to tell its slackers to shape up or ship out.

nycpat July 21, 2011 - 10:50 pm

It’s managements job to deal with slackers. I try to do a good job but my experience is that enthusiasm and “above and beyond” actions will get one in trouble more often than not. Management only cares about those things that are measured in black and white. If things look good on paper AND no one from outside raises a fuss: all is well.
Recently I was on a bus and the driver stopped at a green light before the bus stop. People started yelling at him “Why didn’t he catch the light?” His explanation that there was a camera that would register him as having gone through a red light fell on deaf ears. The vituperation continued. But management only cares that the drivers don’t run red lights, not that some people had to wait an extra 90 sec.s or the grief the driver got.

ajedrez July 22, 2011 - 12:54 pm

To be fair, sometimes they stop at green lights if they’re running ahead of schedule. The MTA and the general public prefer late buses to early buses.

Nathanael August 4, 2011 - 12:12 am

Walder was plainly cleaning up management — as he did in London — but the TWU didn’t even give him a *chance*. The TWU are run by asses. IF the majority of the workers cared, they’d elected someone who wasn’t an ass.

Phil July 21, 2011 - 10:12 pm

I’m happiest when the TWU is pissed off, usually because it means someone’s giving them a run for their BS.

nycpat July 21, 2011 - 10:54 pm

How about the BS of the riding public, pissed off at what? A $1.65 transit fare? It should be $3 and close between 1:30 and 5:30.

Bolwerk July 21, 2011 - 11:14 pm

Ok, Ms. Rand. FYI, it’s $2.25.

nycpat July 21, 2011 - 11:25 pm

30 day unlimited comes out to $2.25? I think not. Plus free transfers? Twas not ever thus.

Benjamin Kabak July 21, 2011 - 11:27 pm

Not even $1.65. In the most recent MTA Board books, the average fare after volume discounts and other breaks comes out to around $1.45-$1.50 per ride.

Bolwerk July 21, 2011 - 11:38 pm

I suppose I pay well under a dollar a ride, then. And I don’t see a problem with that. It’s preferable to having me drive, which costs the public much more.

Alon Levy July 22, 2011 - 1:39 am

People really need to stop viewing free transfers as a special privilege rather than as a basic service. The fare is not $1.50 per trip; it’s $1.50 per swipe, counting trips that involve a transfer twice.

Mad Park July 21, 2011 - 11:12 pm

TWU- be careful of what you wish for – might come back to bite hard later.

Alex C July 21, 2011 - 11:41 pm

Cuomo is salivating right now. Unfortunately whoever he appoints will most likely not only massacre the TWU but also run the MTA into the ground with budget cuts. Cuomo couldn’t care less for the MTA so long as it keeps needing money he could otherwise give away as tax breaks for his campaign donors.

pea-jay July 22, 2011 - 12:40 am

Priority goes to curtailing the influence of the union. All things being equal, if Cuomo can shave 10-15 or even 20% off of the operating labor costs for the MTA and NOT cut service and/or raise fares beyond current scope, he’s going to come out smelling like roses come re-election time. So some union members got hurt. It’s easier to deal with a few thousand pissed off union members rather than several million pissed off straphangers.

nycpat July 22, 2011 - 11:22 pm

Actually, it’s a headache for Cuomo. He should of been nicer to Jay. Now it’s harder for him to say the MTA is not his problem.

Nathanael August 4, 2011 - 12:14 am

Yep. No more buck-shifting by Cuomo.

The TWU will regret this; Walder was their best chance in years to have a cooperative relationship with management. Now they’re likely to get slaughtered. They don’t own Albany. (Other interests own Albany. 😛 )

Bolwerk July 21, 2011 - 11:16 pm

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.

Not sure the TWU grasps this itself, given its lack of support for congestion pricing.

jj July 22, 2011 - 10:21 am

Union workers can go back to pension spiking and getting 40-50 hours / week of OT , to screw the system even more

When the cat’s away …..

Chris G July 22, 2011 - 12:23 pm


Not surprised these out of touch with reality people would say these things.

nycpat July 22, 2011 - 7:26 pm

Yeah, USA=Argentina, we’re getting the word.

Anon July 22, 2011 - 2:09 pm

“Face, we say in China, is more important than life itself,” said Zhang Haihua, author of “Think Like Chinese.” “Because Western countries are so developed, people think they are more well off, so people think that if a company can hire foreigners, it must have a lot of money and have very important connections overseas. So when they really want to impress someone, they may roll out a foreigner.”

JAzumah July 22, 2011 - 5:42 pm

The union will REGRET this. They came at Jay Walder ferociously because he is experienced at running transportation and he has a chateau in France to prove it. Generally, high level hacks get nervous when dealing with the competent.

Paulp July 25, 2011 - 1:31 pm

See YA Jay: don’t let the door hit you in the behind when you go.

NY MTA And Its Largest Union Open Contract Talks | Transportation Nation November 15, 2011 - 9:13 pm

[…] 2009. When Walder announced his resignation this past July, the TWU began  its official statement by saying the union was “glad to see him go” — and it went downhill from […]

The Real Reasons Jay Walder Resigned | Sheepshead Bay News Blog November 22, 2011 - 4:51 pm

[…] everyone (except the unions) seems to agree that now is probably the worst time for him to leave, when the MTA has a $250 […]


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