A parade of public officials, plus one alleged, attempted shoe-thrower, went before the state-controlled Metropolitan Transportation Authority today largely to berate the MTA for passing a budget that includes significant service cuts to subways and buses.

But the elected officials who took time out from their busy schedules to offer their criticism also should be criticizing themselves. Numbers-wise, while the MTA certainly can and should do much by itself to cut its white-collar staff, it won’t get its costs down to reasonable levels until it substantially renegotiates its biggest labor contract, with the city’s Transport Workers Union, as some numbers will help demonstrate.

Just look at the MTA’s headcount and proposed cuts. Of the MTA’s 70,000-odd workers, “administrative” workers make up about 7 percent, something that hasn’t changed much in the past few years.

These admin workers will take 14 percent of job cuts this year, however, or double their “fair share.” They’ll take 16 percent of the headcount cuts next year, and about 15 percent the following two years. These cuts will represent about a quarter of total dollar spending cuts next year.

These cuts may not be enough, but at least the concept is sound and the admin levels are going in the right direction. That is, disproportionate cuts are being taken in areas that should be invisible to the rider.

Meanwhile, other areas of the budget that the MTA can’t cut without significant contract changes  — pensions, health benefits, and the like, largely for unionized workers — are, as I’ve noted, going quickly in the wrong direction.

But no elected official, from Comptroller William Thompson to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, was brave enough to say that the MTA’s unionized labor costs and rules are out of control.

You may also like

Big Apple Pols Have Played Both Sides in NYPD Fight

New York City’s police department has come under criticism in recent days, with some city officials saying NYPD funding should be reduced. But many of the same New York City Council members Read More

Union pay remains non-“prevailing”

Barely one in five private construction workers in New York State was covered by a union contract last year, according to newly released statistics that call into question a state public works "prevailing wage" mandate that assumes 30 percent union coverage of building trades occupations across New York. Read More

Cuomo makes case against PLAs

In cutting the figurative ribbon on a big Capital Region highway project, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a convincing argument against his own policy of steering state work to building trade unions. Read More

A lesson on apprenticeships

The raw politics behind giveaways to building trade unions were on display last week in Troy, a city outside Albany. Read More

Unions puff up numbers post-Janus

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court said government workers couldn’t be forced to pay union dues, New York’s public-sector unions are concealing their losses by publishing inflated membership figures. Read More

Suffolk’s questionable contracts

New York’s most populous suburban county has just ratified a trio of labor deals with its largest unions—and, in the process, showcased some of the worst aspects of collective bargaining across the state. Read More

Policing the MTA’s overtime police

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has assigned its own police force to monitor attendance and overtime use by Long Island Railroad employees, the Daily News reports. Read More

Bill would subsidize union strikes

A bill passed by the state Senate last week could shift millions of dollars in costs from labor unions to the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) program while making employers indirectly subsidize union strikes. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.