Nearly 200 MTA station agents officially lose jobs

August 13, 2010 2:19:13 PM PDT
A mass protest is being held Friday in Brooklyn against the MTA's decision to lay off subway station agents.

The demonstration began as those workers turn in their uniforms and badges.

Friday the 13th ended up being a very unlucky day for the nearly 200 agents who now join the ranks of the unemployed. Many of them said they thought they would work at the MTA for the rest of their lives.

According to the Transport Workers Union, 194 station agents have officially lost their jobs.

The layoffs were originally blocked by a judge, but were then overturned. The MTA, in the midst of a budget crisis, said the layoffs absolutely had to happen. They say the workers cost $49,000 a day in wages and benefits and the savings will be substantial.

Also, 44 token booths will be closed.

The union asked all of its members to join the laid-off workers in Brooklyn as they turned in their things at PS 248, which is the MTA training school in Gravesend.

One bright spot for those being laid off is coming from the union, which is contributing to a special account to keep health beneifits for the workers after their 30-day coverage expires. That fund will help them pay for Cobra.

"We're going to kick in $10 every paycheck, which means $5 a week," the union's Joe Sclafani said. "The 33,000 members contribute this, this will enable a special fund that's not going into the union coffers, it's a special regulated fund just to keep the health benefits for the membership."

The MTA says it has cut 3,500 jobs this year alone. Also, in terms of the token booths, the MTA says many will just have reduced hours. They stress that every station will have at least one full-time manned booth.