MTA 20 minute no lunch policy is flawed and against the law. Why TWU local 100 isn’t doing anything about it?


MTA doesn’t have a problem with train crews operating heavy machinery without having State mandated lunch breaks.

Unfortunately train crews don’t operate under 3rd rail power (even though that seems to go out sometime also), but we need food and recovery time to properly function. Now imagine going a whole 8hr + day without having a lunch break, welcome to Transit!


Your train is late coming into the terminal due to signal trouble down the road. According to your schedule, your supposed to have a 35 minute lunch break at the terminal, but that got screwed up due to the signal problems and you arrive 15 mins late. You go to the dispatcher to fill out a claim exemption form for no lunch but he says, “you have 20 minutes, you don’t qualify for a no lunch”. What are you to do?

First and foremost, 20 minutes isn’t enough time for train crews to eat. The MTA act like crews teleport from the train to the crew room with hot meals waiting for them. Someone should inform them just incase they didn’t know, that isn’t the case.

The main problem with this 20 mins is that management nor supervision has factored in bulletin 030-16 which plainly states “All Train Crews are reminded that they must be on their trains and/or their respective operating positions two minutes prior to their scheduled leaving time.”

How can you get denied a no lunch at 20 minutes when you have to be on your departing trip 2 mins before your leaving time? Its doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math, but doesn’t that really turn the 20 minutes into 18 minutes? Why hasn’t this issue been addressed by the union yet?two mins fix


Meal Period Guidelines

New York State has rules that govern the time allowed for workers to eat during their shift on the job.  You can choose to read the full text of the law or our interpretation below.

Labor Department Interpretation

As we administer this statute, the Department applies these interpretations and guidelines.

Which Employees Does This Rule Cover?

Section 162 applies to every “person” in any establishment or occupation covered by the Labor Law. This includes all categories of workers:
  • Blue collar
  • White collar
  • Management

Do you allow Shorter Meal Periods?

 30-minute minimum

We will permit employers to offer a shorter meal period of at least 30 minutes:

  • Without application by the employer
  • Only if it causes no hardship to employees

20-minute minimum

Employers may offer a meal period of at least 20 minutes:
  • ONLY in special or unusual cases
  • After we investigate
  • With the issue of a special DOL permit

Other Special Cases

One-Employee Shift

In some cases, it is customary for the employee to eat on the job without being relieved. This applies where:

  • Only one person is on duty
  • There is only one person in a specific occupation

If the employee volunteers to accept this arrangement, the Department of Labor will accept these special situations as compliance with Section 162. However, an employer must offer an uninterrupted meal period to every employee who asks for one.

We cannot anticipate all possible meal period questions.  Thus, these “Guidelines” may not cover all situations. For questions or guidance, contact the nearest office of the Division of Labor Standards.



According to the guidelines of the New York State labor law it looks like the MTA shouldn’t be giving out 20 minute lunches period.

Where are your union reps when you need them?

What is your take on the issue?


– Tramell Thompson

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3 thoughts on “MTA 20 minute no lunch policy is flawed and against the law. Why TWU local 100 isn’t doing anything about it?

  1. Doesn’t it sat a 20 min lunch is allowed in special or unusual circumstances? Isn’t a delay or problem on the road special or unusual sense it cuts into the scheduled lunch?


  2. “Employers may offer a meal period of at least 20 minutes:
    ONLY in special or unusual cases
    After we investigate
    With the issue of a special DOL permit”

    Do you know for certain that the MTA/TA has not applied for and been issued this “special DOL permit”?


  3. The MTA Routinely Forces People To Work Over 6 And A Half Hours Even Over 7 hours Without A Meal. This Causes Health Problems Over Time And Contributes To Fatigue Along With The Unreasonable (inhuman e ) 20 minute Lunch Breaks ( Swings ) That Bus Operators And Others Are Unhappily Enduring All To Often Systemwide. Take Your Lunch At The End Of The Line Whenever You Get There. You Must Make Your Relief Then You Have Lunch The MTA Unlawfully Demands.


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