12/22/2005

Striking Reality

As the trains get ready to roll again (and our feet finish thawing out from this morning's 1.5 hour hike from Brooklyn), it's a good time to reflect on the true stories behind the 2005 NYC transit strike.

Sure, we're all a little annoyed at the transit workers (retiring at 55 with a pension is a distant fantasy for most of us) after a few days of enduring frigid temperatures and commuter chaos. And plenty of us are all too familiar with scenes like this:



But let's not forget that we're talking about the MTA, one of the most mismanaged agencies in the state (i.e. getting screwed out of tens of millions of $ by mobbed-up contractors for the work on their headquarters building at 2 Broadway back in 2002. Projected cost: $140 million, Actual cost: $845 million).

Here's another example:

The MTA is paying a few consultants over $500 an hour apiece to provide advice to their human resources department, according to MTA documents reviewed by The Investigators.

As of March 2004 (through February 2007), the MTA has a $303,000 contract with Hay Group, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm. These are the billing rates for some of Hay Group's staffers - S. Nissenfeld: $550/hour, H. Resnick $525-595/hour, R. Porter: $500-540/hour. These expenditures don't include out-of-pocket expenses such as traveling expenses, office supplies, computer services, etc.

Here's some suggested HR advice: Fire the consultants!

No wonder union members are aggravated - the MTA has been using private contractors (some of whom don't work for the Mob) for years. And some of these firms don't treat their workers too well.

Let's take a look at some of them. Darcon Construction Corp. has been cited for OSHA violations (that's the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Another firm, Rotondo Contracting, was penalized by the Department of Labor in 2000 for not paying overtime to their workers. And in June 2004, one worker was killed and two injured when a six-foot foundation collapsed at one of Rotondo's construction sites in Queens.

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