MTA Can't Fire 200+ Token Booth Clerks: Judge

By Tim Minton and Hasani Gittens
|  Wednesday, Jun 23, 2010  |  Updated 9:32 PM EDT
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MTA Can't Fire 200+ Token Booth Clerks: Judge

Token booth clerks may yet keep their jobs.

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The MTA has been told to stop in its tracks.

Manhattan judge on Friday ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority cannot fire some 222 subway booth workers without public hearings.

"Respondents [The MTA] are enjoined from effectuating the mass closing of subway station customer assistant kiosks and token booths unless and until respondents post appropriate notices and hold the public hearings required by New York Public Authorities law," wrote Judge Saliann Scarpulla in the decision.

Scarpulla pointed out that the "riding public's avenue of challenging actions is through the public hearing process," and to take that away is a violation.

Those hearings, however, could last a few months -- saving hundreds of jobs for the time being.

The decision also seems to call into question the firing of about 250 token booth clerks last month.

Transit Worker Union President John Samuelsen celebrated the decision.

"Judge Scarpulla’s decision is a major victory for safety and security in our subways," said Samuelsen.

"Events in recent months, including the aborted bombing of the subways by admitted al Qaeda terrorist Najibullah Zazi, and the near tragedy in Times Square in early May, underscore TWU’s position that holding new hearings on the booth closings is in the best interest of the millions of people who use the subways every day," he added.

"It is also an important reprieve for the Station Agents who have had the layoff axe hanging over their heads for the past five months. "

Meanwhile, the MTA in a statement said it was "dissapointed" by the decision.

"The MTA is disappointed in today’s ruling that we cannot proceed with slated subway booth and kiosk closures without repeating the public hearing process," said Press Secretary Aaron Donovan in a emailed statement. "These closures were necessitated by the MTA’s dire financial situation, and the need for the savings they generate remains. "

Donovan said the MTA will "be proceeding on a parallel track with the public hearing process."

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