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475 MTA token clerk jobs safe (for now) after judge halts booth closings

Published: May 6, 2010

Publication: New York Daily News

By Pete Donohue


MTA clerks working at the token booth at Penn Station-34th. St. subway station.

A judge’s order halting layoffs of 475 token booth clerks will cost the already cash-strapped MTA about $100,000 a day, a top official said Thursday.

Manhattan Supreme Court justice issued a temporary order blocking the cost-cutting move late Wednesday night, causing pink-slipped workers to rejoice.

The clerks had been scheduled to turn in their badges and uniforms yesterday but instead were told to report to work – at least until a judge hears the case early next week.

“I got a new life,” said Mohamed Abedin, 42, of Ozone Park, Queens, who has an 11-year-old son and a pregnant wife. “I have a mortgage. I have a family. I really need this job.”

Meanwhile, more cuts are coming. Yesterday, the MTA announced new plans that would eliminate an additional 1,000 positions because of the agency’s $750 million budget deficit – saving about $115 million this year.

Those positions include clerical and administrative staff, train cleaners, subway station announcers and ticket agents at the Metro-North and Long Islandrailroads. An aggressive window-replacement program, meant to reduce “scratchiti,” also was eliminated.

NYC Transit President Tom Prendergast said the budget-burdened authority might have to pay about $600,000 a week and $2.4 million a month if the token booth layoffs are delayed further. The savings will have to be made up somewhere, “most likely through other head-count reductions,” he said.

A Manhattan Supreme Court justice signed the temporary restraining order after Transport Workers Union lawyer Arthur Schwartz argued the MTA failed to hold legally mandated hearings.

“This win isn’t about Local 100 workers. This win is for the city of New York,” union chief John Samuelson said outside the Manhattan courtroom, where a judge said she would not hear testimony until next week.

Most clerks were notified early yesterday that they should report to their jobs, but several dozen didn’t find out until they showed up at the Brooklyn training center to turn in their equipment.

“We came out for a funeral,” said Christine Williams, a union recording secretary. “At least it gave people hope for another day.”

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