Since I've received a few emails and a few comments about my take on the contract talks with the MTA and the TWU, I guess I should clarify my statement as it was written in the heat of immense anger -- something I promised to never do when I started this blog but I did anyway...
I guess this is another situation where our own personal experiences speak for themselves.
I remember sitting at the Ditmars stop waiting for the train to leave with Coke cans, spilled coffee cups, sticky floors, cleaning crews spending more time talking to each other in a car than actually cleaning it, token booths manned with the most apathetic of employees who would wait to finish their conversations with friends before turning to help you, waiting over 45 minutes (at 10:00 pm on a weekday night) until a train would come to pick me up from Union Square while four R trains convenient rattle by, etc. Things on the 1/9 line is only marginally better.
No, I agree that running the entire system is hard. However, I am far less than impressed with the performance of the workers. The tone of my post probably came after sitting through a newcast where I learned that the average salary for the majority of these employees is about 20% more than what I make and hearing the head of their union say it's not enough pissed me off. They make far more than the woman on my team whose desk I am covering for the remainder of the year who busts her ass off to earn her check and puts out more work that what I have seen from TWU workers. One of the TWU's complaints is that the workers of the LIRR and Metro-North train lines make more money. Well, I've ridden on both many times and have gotten much better service than I have from our subway workers. The cars are clean, the staff accomodating and helpful, and these trains have always been on time each time I've ridden them.
This all comes down to perception. I am sure that there are TWU members who do one heck of a job. I've only had personal experience with two of them though. People I would love to see get a nice raise though -- the maintenance workers who are out on the rails doing regular maintenance, etc. There are three of those people in my building and I know how hard they work...they deserve the money.