Transport Workers Union local chief John Samuelson replied today to my piece in last week’s Post:

When the MTA lays off transit workers, there isn’t less work — just fewer workers doing more to keep the system going.That means more overtime, not less. More overtime means more wages paid out by the MTA.

The increase in wages paid out in 2010 stems from a faulty management decision, not from the workers who keep the system running everyday.

As for Gelinas’ call for a three-year wage freeze for transit workers in our next contract: Local 100 is not agreeing to zeroes — particularly when the tax on New York’s wealthiest people was eliminated.

Samuelson’s right about overtime. Layoffs of necessary workers don’t solve anything — fewer cleaners, for example, just means more trash, more delays, inevitable press complaints, and, yes, as Samuelson notes, more overtime.

The solution to high worker costs is not to get rid of the workers but to fix retirement benefits, health benefits, and work rules. Samuelson is surely in favor of all of that!

As for “not agreeing to zeroes” — well, it’s going to be an interesting winter. (The TWU contract expires in January.)

If Samuelson can’t take zeroes because it would put him out of a leadership position, he may prefer arbitration — then, any hypothetical zeroes wouldn’t be his fault.

But what would the arbitrators do?

They may opt to use the state’s new pattern example, in which case, the TWU would get zeroes, as much of the rest of the state workforce is — and transit workers might end up paying more for healthcare, too.

But arbitrators last time around opted to use the city’s workforce as an example for the TWU, resulting in 11.3 percent raises over three years. That’s why Bloomberg, too, should get some zero labor deals done, and fast (which the Post recommends in an edit today).

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