ta worker
NYC transit employees lost a lot of traction in wages compared to other city agencies and many can’t afford to live in the city in which they serve.

What happen to the New York City Transit job? I remember when people said MTA stood for “ATM”, now employees will soon find themselves lucky to even withdraw funds from one.

Somewhere between the late 90’s till now, transit workers have fell drastically behind in wages, especially when compared to LIRR and Metro North. Let’s not even mention NYPD, FDNY, Sanitation, Corrections and how their salaries and overall packages tower over NYCT employees.

More and more transit workers are moving out of NYC because of the rising cost of living, mainly fleeing to New Jersey, upstate and Pennsylvania. I recently seen the NYPD making an ad campaign targeted at the public about how they were underpaid and can’t afford to live in the city in which they serve. The first thing that came to my mind was “if they can’t then MTA workers sure can’t either”

For example, base salary for a  NYCT train conductor is 66k a year, while a NYC corrections officer base salary is 94k after 5.5 years. The same is for train operators which make 72k a year, while LIRR operators make 87k. Even though both are under the parent company MTA, the NYCT system brings in most of the agency’s money, but tend to pay their employees significantly less.

Meanwhile the union that represents NYC transit workers, TWU local 100 top four officers John Samuelsen ($271,000) La-Tanya Crisp Sauray ($143,783), Angel Giboyeaux ($133,523) and Earl Phillips ($145,884), easily cleared 125k + according to 2015 LM2’s.

According to the American Community Survey NYCT has a workforce that consists of 68% minorities and 30% Caucasian, with 12% of the total work force having a bachelors degree and only 5% having a masters degree or higher.

Transit workers in operational titles sacrifice so much of their family life for the job. Many workers work as many as 10 years in title before they can pick the weekends off, and as many as 15 years in title before they can pick summer vacation. Weekends and the summer is when family time is most valuable being that children are out of school. Getting regular days off is difficult also. With a quota system in place, days off are only granted to only about 20 people a day out of 9,000 workers. This number has not risen with the workforce and makes it more challenging to get a day off. Not to mention in subways in order to be considered for the day off you have to put it in 20 days in advance and in buses it’s 30 days. Just to make ends meet, many transit workers spend a lot of time doing “late clears” and working overtime, if its available. That takes even more time from loved ones, but many employees do it to maintain a decent lifestyle.

All in all, working in NYC as a transit employee is a wonderful experience, but the question I ask myself every few months is “how long before I have to become a refugee to which the city I serve?”.


– Tramell Thompson

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