TWU Plan: Make Subway Cars Here, Bring Back Blue Collar Jobs

JMA and TWU

Manufacturing in New York state and the rest of the country will get a potential $3.2 billion shot in the arm, thanks to the Transport Workers Union of America and a national campaign to bring blue-collar jobs back to our cities and towns.

After more than a year of advocacy by TWU leadership, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Gov. Cuomo’s office agreed to offer railcar producers additional incentives to increase manufacturing in the United States, instead of shipping the work overseas.

Bids for a $3.2 billion contract to build 940 MTA subway cars will be rated in part on the strength of their “U.S. Employment Plan,” transit officials said Monday.

The plan to manufacture subway train cars in New York City would revive neighborhoods with blue collar jobs.
The plan to manufacture subway train cars in New York City would revive neighborhoods with blue collar jobs.

The MTA is instructing potential bidders to include in their Employment Plans such information as the number of domestic jobs they would create, where they would create them and what wages they’d pay employees.

“This is a huge win for workers in New York and across the United States,” TWU of America Executive Vice President John Samuelsen said. “Taxpayer dollars that are used to buy equipment like subway cars should create good quality manufacturing jobs here, not overseas.  We in TWU urge transit agencies across the country to adopt a similar pledge to use the power of local tax dollars to create good middle class jobs in their own regions.”

This is pretty wonky stuff – not the standard fare for most mainstream media outlets, which often are more focused on scandals, shocking violence and celebrity items. But Samuelsen and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. secured a good bit of prime real estate in The New York Daily News on July 14 with a convincing Op-Ed piece that urged the MTA to put strong job-related language in the railcar RFP.

Jobs To Move America, a coalition that includes labor, environmental and civil rights groups, provided the MTA with a blueprint and legal framework for crafting a U.S. Employment, along with data from academics.

The MTA can’t legally mandate transit manufacturers set up shop in New York. But it has clout and influence simply because it is the largest transit agency in the country and buys more equipment than any other. Several bus and train manufacturers already have final assembly plants in the state. Many of the components and parts, however, are manufactured abroad in low-wage countries. Officials believe the MTA incentives will encourage railcar producers to propose placing new factories in New York, or expanding existing ones in the state, to win the $3.2 billion contract.

Good stuff that could put a lot of men and women to work and help reinvigorate our neighborhoods.

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