In Wake of Subway Deaths, Conductors Are Told by Union to Slow Down


This might work a bit better than those experimental sliding doors on the L train we told you about yesterday.

With the deaths of Ki-Suck Han and Sunando Sen fresh in our mind, the Transport Workers Union Local 100 has advised its members to halt subway speeds to about 10 mph as the trains arrive in the stations. As of now, we are all familiar with how fast these subways fly into the station — the average velocity is usually around 30 or 35 mph. This action taken would hopefully give conductors better judgment time should a passerby be unexpectedly thrown into terrible harm’s way and save them from dealing with the metro-PTSD that is caused as a result.
However, the memorandum to conductors handed down by union prez John Samuelsen is not going over well with the MTA board. If in place, it is said that the lowered speeds would lead to slower service: a consequence that MTA interim chief Thomas Pendergast warned against last Friday.
Moving further, the discontent with the union memo has, of course, political tendencies. In New York State, there is a little something called the Taylor Law (on the books, it’s known as the Public Employees Fair Employment Act). Upon its inception, municipal workers lost their right to strike if unsatisfied with a specific situation; instead, unions are given heavy mediation power to come to a conclusion without disrupting service to the general public.
So, with this being said, the transit authorities have told the union that instructing conductors to watch their speeds can be deemed illegal under these circumstances. While they are not only barred from striking, transit workers cannot go out of their way to “negatively impact” service in any way. By twisting words a bit, the call for lowered speeds has fallen under this category.
It still remains to be seen what this discrepancy in views between workers and officials might lead to. The subway deaths are no trivial matter to anyone, especially to the conductors nearest to the calamities. But, still, lowering the speed down to 10 mph shouldn’t have this kind of political blowback because, in the end, no one has really forgotten the 2005 transit strike.