An Open Letter from Students on the Transit Workers’ Struggle

We the undersigned students—from private and public colleges, from New York City and beyond—call on our peers to stand firmly with the transit workers who move New York and are now engaged in a bitter fight for survival against the MTA management.

After the 2017-9 contract expired this past May, the MTA management demanded a series of concessions from the workers, including a cut in inflation-adjusted wages, an increase in the cost of health insurance, the replacement of certain full-time with part-time positions, and a greater use of private contractors. These conditions will make it even more difficult for transit workers and their families to survive in New York City. Notably, the majority of transit workers are black and Latino, making this contract struggle an important battle in the fight for equality of all peoples.

The MTA will spend roughly 2.7 billion dollars (or 16% of its operating budget) this year to service its debt to rich bondholders. Meanwhile, it increases the cost of a subway ride and forces bad contracts on transit workers, squeezing the working people of NYC from both directions to pay its debt.

In order to obscure the shared interests between riders and transit workers, the politicians and their newspapers deploy tactics of divide-and-conquer. They incite riders to turn against workers, spreading lies about an “overtime scandal,” blaming workers for the miserable state of the MTA. We know better. Transit workers are New York. As for those spreading these “scandals,” you won’t catch them riding the subway!

Transit is one of the few areas of work left in the city where someone can make a decent living without a four-year college degree. After imposing tuition at CUNY in the 1970s and ending open admissions in the 1990s—shutting the door to higher education for a vast layer of children from working families—the rich, corrupt, and powerful are now coming after those who found other means to get by. They have pushed the working people of New York into a corner and, in their arrogance, continue to throw blows without respite.

We must not allow things to go on like this; we must fight back! We call upon all students, faculty and university staff who agree with this message to join us in standing with the transit workers in their fight for a contract with no concessions.

Initiated by: May Day Student Organization

Brooklyn College Socialists
Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine
NYU Puerto Rican Student Association
Governance Council of Marginalized and Minority Students at NYU
NYU Queer Union
LUCHA (Latinos Unidos con Honor y Amistad)
La Herencia
MEXSA (Mexican Students Association)
NYU Student Government Assembly
NYU Black Student Association
NYU Jewish Voice for Peace
Binghamton Progressives
Fenway Socialists
Mexican Heritage Student Association