Thursday, February 19, 2015

MBTA misses opportunity to help workers economically impacted by storm

Universal Hub and several other sources are reporting that the MBTA is hiring individuals from the community to shovel tracks and other property, but requires that they be members of unions.

I have nothing against unions in theory, and workers being able to organize is a good thing, but if they're going to hire non-MBTA employees to do this, why on earth wouldn't they extend some generosity to hourly employees who have lost considerable wages due to jobs being closed or not being able to get to them? As far as I know, union workers generally have paid days off of some sort. The union workers shoveling snow may well be doing so on a paid day off, or might have taken a personal day to take on the shoveling job. Well hiring union workers seems on the face as a progressive and pro-human-rights thing to do, it seems like the plan wasn't fully thought out.


  1. Construction trade union workers do NOT generally have paid days off, at least for the unions I am familiar with. They work on an hourly basis just like the hourly workers you mention, though generally with better wages. No sick time, no vacation time. And many are out of work in the winter months due to the slowing of construction work. Someone else also mentioned that by using union people, the administrative structure is already there which makes it much easier for paperwork, insurance, etc.

  2. The unemployed do not have paid sick days, sick time off either. I am sure they would be delighted to work for less than the minimum wage. Construction workers to pretty well, and are usually only out a couple months a year.

  3. And some how union workers @ union wages are more deserving than service workers getting minimum wage ( if citizens) ?

  4. I am a strong union supporter, but lately I find myself unable to support and stand in solidarity with most if not all government unions.

    Once upon a time, unions stood and fought for the solidarity of ALL workers. Today, union membership is almost exclusively a privilege of government workers and the their behavior and structures are starting to resemble a mafia like hybrid of a private club and a protection service. All at the expense of the taxpayers.

    For several weeks, largely due to MBTA's collapse, Boston has been nearly completely paralyzed. Yes, I understand record snow and temps, but it has been a week since the last storm and the green line is still not shoveled out! The union's attempts to block private substitute buses, hiring union-only labor during emergency situations while the rest of working poor are stuck on icy roads, makes me very unsympathetic to their cause.

    Unions were never intended to be a private club for a select few, but that is what govt unions became.

    Thank you for your excellent and very informative blog.

  5. They actually did end up allowing non-Union workers to shovel. But I want to point out that shoveling snow in extremely cold weather on train tracks (which is much harder than than shoveling your driveway) for eight hours is not something everyone can do. But it basically is very similar to what Union Laborers do on a daily basis during the winter. Could some random people walk in off the street and do that too? Sure some could, most couldn't. And if you're trying to quickly get a large number of people who can efficiently complete this physically demanding job you're much better hiring Union Laborers than random people who may also want a days work.