Victory for our Station Agents on Buyback Bill

The Station Agent Buy Back bill is now law!

Gov. Cuomo signed the legislation Tuesday night. That means hundreds of Station Agents can now obtain the pension credits that they were denied when former MTA Chairman Jay Walder imposed draconian layoffs and service cuts in 2010.

“This is a huge victory,” Local 100 President Tony Utano and TWU International President John Samuelsen said in a joint statement. “Getting legislation like this passed by the State Legislature, and then getting the Governor to sign it, was a huge lift. We couldn’t have done it without the hard work and dedication of the members and officers who lobbied elected officials and kept this issue alive.”

The MTA pink-slipped nearly 500 Station Agents during a fiscal crisis that saw the authority’s tax revenues plummet with the economy. Walder had other options but he maliciously laid-off the Station Agents anyway after Local 100 leadership refused his demand to re-open the contract and accept sweeping agency-wide cuts to wages and benefits. “The MTA was trying to bully the union,” Station Agent Marnee Anastos said. The MTA began recalling some of the agents less than one year later. But some had to wait nearly two years before getting their jobs back.

S/A Frank Fodera and his wife literally shouted with joy when Sharase DeBouse, of Local 100’s Political Action unit, called them to say Gov. Cuomo had signed the bill. Frank had to fight back tears. “You made our day!,” Frank, 58, said. “We couldn’t be happier. This is going to help so many people.” Hired in 2006, Frank was laid off for 16 months. He has worked on and off over the last couple of years as he battles cancer. Buying back the pension credits for that lost 16 months moves him closer to reaching 10 years of pensionable service - and gets him closer to being able to retire on disability with the health benefits secured by Local 100 during contract negotiations. Frank requires extensive medical care that would be astronomically expensive without the Local 100 insurance plan. The prescription drugs that he currently needs now cost him $10 for a three-week supply. Without the coverage, that three-week supply would cost $11,556, his wife, Lynn, said. “It’s so crucial he retire with these benefits,” she said. “We’re grateful to all the people who went to Albany to lobby, and we thank God for the union. Without them, I don’t know what we would do.”

Anastos was stunned when she was laid off after 2 and a half years on the job. “We were laid off for no reason,” Anastos said. “The MTA said they didn’t have enough money but they then paid people overtime to do doubles and triples.” Anastos said she is “ecstatic” about the legislative victory, and glad she became involved. She joined a contingent of union members on a springtime lobbying trip to the state Legislature in Albany. “If people don’t get involved, things just get swept under the rug,” she said. “We all have to all stand together and get involved and make sure we get what we need.”