MBTA hiring union members to shovel out the Red Line tomorrow

Updated: Not just anybody can show up to shovel out the Red Line.

The MBTA is working with local unions to get lots of people working to shovel out the Braintree branch of the Red Line tomorrow.

The T contact the Boston Building Trades and the SEIU, who in turn asked members with shovels to show up tomorrow at the Bayside Expo Center for a 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift digging out the tracks, which have not been used to carry passengers since the last storm.

They'll be paid $30 an hour.

A T spokesman says the move is part of "an all out snow removal offensive on the Braintree branch tomorrow."

He adds that the Red Cross has agreed to provide coffee, water and food to the snow fighters.



Free tagging: 


Can't they just pay one guy

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Can't they just pay one guy to drive their snow blowing equipment?

Why is work being done by hand when the MBTA owns the specialized rail clearing equipment?

Great .... If a worker slips

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Great .... If a worker slips and falls while shoveling the train tracks and snaps his neck -will he ( A) Be covered by the MBTA health plan (B) Masshealth or (C) Consult Law firm Shapiro & Finkelstein PC.

D) None of the above

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Workers are being hired by 3 companies that contract with the MBTA. Any on the job injuries would be covered by the hiring employer's worker's compensation insurance.


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Obviously the subway track snow blower isn't doing all of what needs to be done.

Since it is now sitting dead

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Since it is now sitting dead at the back of a yard, there hasn't been an opportunity to find out if it is capable of doing the job.

Not going to happen

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These are skilled union workers following all OSHA protocols and regulations, they will NOT slip and fall.

Is this actually in the shop?

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Is the above picture recent and is it actually in the shop? I thought the T only owned one and as of 6 Feb 2015 it was outside the Red Line shops covered in snow behind out of service Red Line Cars.


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Snow Blower

because that is a snow blower

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because that is a snow blower not an ice blower..that wet snow is now solid ice and is frozen to the rails


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This isn't the first time

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This used to be a much more common practice. Surprised (maybe I shouldn't be) to see it making a comeback!

Why is this sad?

Tough times call for tough solutions. There are people out there who could use this money. I think it's a great idea. I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner.

Yeah no kidding. Give some

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Yeah no kidding. Give some people some money and get it cleaned up. Better to do this than wait around for a more face saving solution.

I didn't say it wasn't a

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I didn't say it wasn't a great idea. I said it's sad. It's sad that our public transit is so messed up, and short on modern snow removal equipment that they have to call on the public to help shovel tracks by hand, supplying their own shovels. It's embarrassing and a bit infuriating.

It isn't so much the magnitude of the storms

It is the fact that we have not had a thaw while being repeatedly mowed by medium to epic sized storms.

For example, the two storms in January and February 1978 had a thaw in between, not yet another moderate storm. Juno and Marcus were both top ten all time storms, interwoven with two other storms of lesser note but important volume.

The only thing close to this in any sort of records: February and March of 1717.

They are giving Union workers

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They are giving Union workers a job. People who have a job already. What about the people who don't have work , looking for work and would like to help out offer them work also


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How can you claim union members who work shoveling already have a job?

Actually no.

just because you are in a union, doesn't mean you have a job. In fact, many union laborers get laid off in the winter after the construction work goes away.

Being in a union does not

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Being in a union does not necessarily mean they have a job right now. Especially this time of year, there are union workers in the construction trades that are out of work, and those are the ones that are most likely signing up for this.

Actually, they are giving workers a job

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For the most part, the trades and SEIU members are paid by the hour. No work, no pay. And nobody has been working for the last three weeks, so nobody has been getting paid. Limiting it to union members ensures that buy-in from 589.

I'd rather see the T pay a living wage to union members, to clear snow, than pay questionable travel expenses and hotel laundry expenses for the General Manager. It's money well spent. This may be the first good idea that they've had since this gottdamerung descended on our heads.

redline shoveling

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Weather union or non union any person willing to help should be considered. What makes a union back any stronger then a non union back? We are all after all just looking to provide the help needed and also provide for our families. The American way as it once was!

Storm Magnitude

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We better start planning... were going to get more and more and bigger and bigger....
If we want to survive ... we better get ready.... time to wake up on that....

I don't think it's that

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I don't think it's that simple.

True, but the really serious issues started showing themselves after the first storm when the Braintree branch totally collapsed. Everything else after that just made it 100Xs worse. I don't agree with the thinking that it is either the weather or it's either the T positions on this. It's a combination that made for a perfect storm, so to speak. You can't remove the weather piece and say it's 100% the fault of infrastructure because anything would be hampered by this amount of snow and cold, but you also can't ignore the long standing issues the T has had maintaining acceptable service when it's not perpetually snowing in Boston. I'm not saying it would have never happened, but well maintained equipment and having enough of it, along with better communication and coordination with the public could have lessened the blow for everyone.

The poor communication to the public has also been a big factor here. When people are told that normal/regular service will resume, that is what they plan for. I feel like my commutes have been a lot easier since the T got realistic about what it could actually do and adjust service accordingly. Keolis, on the other hand, continues to insist they will run regular schedules as planned as if we don't have 7 feet of snow and sub-zero temps. It is incredibly frustrating trying to plan around BS information or total lack of it short of "I will avoid the commuter rail entirely", which is what I've resorted to doing at this point because thankfully I have that luxury. Not everyone does.

The way I see it, the current

The way I see it, the current system, the current equipment, the current plans, they all are not able to manage the current snow situation. So what do you do when all that you have fails? Come up with a solution that is different. This is different.

If it works, the Red Line will be running from Braintree on Tuesday, and whoever came up with this idea should be getting a promotion.

Definately both sad and a great idea...

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It's sad that we have none of the (working) equipment needed to get and keep our subway lines functioning. But nothing's going to fix that in time to clear this mess. Anything ordered now won't be here before the snow melts - at this point we'd be lucky if it's here for next winter.

Thankfully they're trying something to clear the line. As traffic has shown, we can't have a functioning city without it, even if it has to be dug out by hand.


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People think this is an every day occurrence. I have never seen a winter like this and I have lived here all my life. Even 1978 wasn't as crazy as this winter. Yes the blizzard itself was worse than any snow storm we have had. But we didn't have 94 inches of snow in 3 weeks time without any thawing. The equipment we have is old. The commuter rail is newer and throws snow on the red line. The third rail freezes Repeat.

This idea happened every

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This idea happened every major snowstorm when I was a kid. The rate was 5.50 an hour and anyone could apply, not just hacks.

I'm really skeptical that

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I'm really skeptical that Braintree will be up and running and will cheer wildly if it does (lived there 35 years before moving to the Ashmont side, so it's kind of personal). It's not just the snow on the tracks causing issues down there. Snow removal is a huge piece of it, but unless the issue with losing power to the third rail has been resolved, we'll see more of the same as more snow comes in. Without reliable power, and then trains stalled out on the tracks, it's kind of hard to run snow trains overnight during storms. Without being able to run those snow trains, the tracks get completely buried overnight. That has to be a huge contributor to Braintree woes right now. Ashmont and other portions of the T that are above ground have been fairing pretty well through all of this in comparison to the Braintree branch.

Shovelers for hire

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Bea w , the MBTA has snow plows to plow the rails but, and I say but. If the workers cannot see the switching points on the rails to roll over, then they would have a major problem with derailments. So what is better? Being smart and hiring hands or adding more woes to an already crippling problem? People with no solutions always have the complaints.....

mbta hiring union members. ..

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It embarrassing that the people of ma are so arrogant and spoiled that they are complaining about the mbta out sourcing to get things moving again. We have an extensive public transit system other cities dont have. The mbta workers, along with other public and private employees have been shoveling and plowing non-stop for the last 4 weeks and are exhausted and all anyone can do is complain. Its time people worked together or shut up.

No so sad

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I think it's important to keep in mind that the MBTA is the oldest subway system in the US, some of it dating to the last years of the 19th century. Coupled with the fact that on a day to day basis, the MBTA maintenance crews have only a short overnight shift in which to perform all maintenance and repairs to tracks, power infrastructure, subway cars, locomotives, station and platforms, signals etc etc. When people complain about break downs and temporary track shut downs, I tell them that it's a miracle that the whole thing works as well as it does. Show me any other system as old, complex, large, spread out and with such heavy use that still runs with as little down time.

There's No Ⓣ Equipment From The Nineteenth Century!

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Throwing out that line that it's the "Oldest Subway System" is a totally bogus excuse for any of the 's failures. If anything, with all that experience, it ought to be the best running rapid transit system in the nation.

Oldest Subway System

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Unfortunately Elmer, we do happen to have and utilize the oldest subway system. We all know although some don't want to accept the fact that, time and age plays a part in everything in life. Whether born/created, the trains are just like our cars only our cars don't carry as many people. Constant wear and tear over a hundred plus tears. Question, do you really expect anything over a hundred years old to function as it did, say ninety five years prior? Always remember no matter how frustrated we may get. "Machines are just what they are, Machines". They do eventually break down, sometimes to a point of no recovery.

The Braintree branch is one

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The Braintree branch is one of the newest parts of the MBTA subway. It opened to Quincy Center in 1971, and Braintree in 1980.


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It's sad that our public transit is so messed up, and short on modern snow removal equipment that they have to call on the public to help shovel tracks by hand, supplying their own shovels. It's embarrassing and a bit infuriating.

It's disgusting, to boot!

I'd agree in general, except

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I'd agree in general, except the weather forecast for tomorrow is predicting deadly cold temperatures. Frostbite sets in pretty quickly if you're working outside and not properly outfitted. I hope they will have the good sense to screen workers and make sure they're dressed appropriately.

Broke down snowblower

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I think that it is a wonderful thing that many can benefit from 1 machine breaking down. I bet you the men will complete this task the way it really needs to be, for trains to function without doubt. A system this old has a round the clock crew that walk those tracks to check for anything out of place that could easily cause a bad situation. I fear the day they have 1 man in a big machine that can say "looks great" I Hope they get tons of overtime, and the right stuarts are there to keep them safe


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The work needs to get done. Go grab a shovel and get off your elitist, lazy ass if you don't like it,

My husband would be

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My husband would be interested... except he can't get there, he'd need to take the T!


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are running on a Saturday schedule tomorrow.


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Hey Adam. What is your source for this info? I haven't seen it anywhere else.

I asked Joe Pesaturo at the MBTA

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Specifically, I sent him a link to the Facebook page (the one that has since been taken down) and actually asked him "Is this legit?" His exact reply:

Yes. We plan to launch an all out snow removal offensive on the Braintree branch tomorrow.

For what it's worth, the Facebook page, when it was up, was open to everybody, even people without Facebook accounts.

Sounds like a crappy

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Sounds like a crappy offensive if you are the only one promoting it!

No offense to you of course. ;P

The original poster on fb

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The original poster on fb book set it to Friends, because he was inundated with many inquiries. I sent him a private message asking him he stated it was legitimate and was open to anyone.


This is freakin' ridiculous!

What happened to all the snow blowing equipment? When the system is shut down during a blizzard, stop running trains. Then allot yourself enough time to use snow blowers before your targeted resumption of service. We have tracks with snow packed into the gauge, snow pressed outward instead of blown away, and it's all just insane!

Where did all the old rotary plows go?! Why are there no flangers to scrape out the gauge?!

I understand there's no money put forward to replace third rail heaters or traction motors, but when you use idiotic practices and let preexisting equipment go to waste, there's a bigger issue at hand. What the hell!

Here's the original post

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Attention: Anyone looking to work on snow removal and help the region get out from under these unprecedented snow storms...

The MBTA an the Massachusetts Building Trades have asked me to request your help in clearing the Braintree branch of the Red Line between JFK/Umass and Braintree.

Anyone who is interested should report to the Bayside Expo Parking lot at 6:30 tomorrow morning, (Monday Feb. 16th). There will be signage and they should be looking for MBTA personnel to direct them to the proper place.

• Pay will be $30 per hour.
• Shift will be from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
• Parking will be provided as well as transportation to the work location. You will be transported from Bayside Expo to location and returned there at end of the shift
• Workers will be hired and paid by one of three contractors: JF White, McCourt or Barletta by check
• They are working to arrange for food but suggested that you prepare like you would for any other work day regarding food.
• Dress appropriately for the weather.
• Tools will be provided but they did say they were running short on shovels and suggested to bring one if you can.

$30 an hour??? that's more

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$30 an hour??? that's more than I make! Then again, there's no backbreaking snow removal work involving possible frostbite involved in my job, so...

For comparison, this is more

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For comparison, this is more than the MBTA pays people when they win the "job lottery" to become drivers/operators:

*Part-Time Motorperson (Train Attendant) - $19.62**
Part-Time Bus Operator - $19.62**
Part-Time Streetcar Motorperson - $19.81**
Full-Time Track Laborer - $18.04
Part-Time Customer Service Agent (CSA) - $19.10**

* Will be required to work as a Part-Time Train Attendant ($19.34) and/or Part-Time Customer Service Agent
** Starting wage $10.00/hour during training



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I have an awesome idea: let's have the olympics here.

The "snow farms" often

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The "snow farms" often survive until July. This year they'll probably last longer.

Wouldn't it be incredible...

...if the snow farms managed to survive until next winter's first major snowfall? To be honest, I think should strive for it, in fact. We need to stop using multiple snow farms and make one hideously massive one. Maybe it will turn into a glacier and last for decades.


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If you're worried about how Boston could handle the Summer Olympics based on what happens during the winter when nearly 90+ inches of snow hits in a few weeks, then please get a time machine and alert backers of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and show them what will happen when 2 inches of snow hits.

Of course, I have no idea what winter issues have to do with the Summer Olympics, but that's another story altogether.

That aside, I don't even support the Olympic games being held here, but please have some non-idiotic reasons for why it would be a bad idea if you don't want your argument torn apart in seconds.

Homeless getting into broken down train

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A police friend reports the homeless have somehow managed to pry open the doors and make camp inside of that broken down train sitting outside of Quincy Adams for over a week now. I have no problem with the shoveling. Time to get this resolved.

If your options are...

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...freeze to death, or break into a broken down train, you choose the former. I know you're crazy and irrational and hateful, but you'd do the same thing.

Whoosh - It was sarcasm

to compare the (low) reputation and dire circumstances of homeless people vs. that of the MBTA. The joke is homeless are sullying their reputation by taking refuge in an abandoned MBTA train.

Just a union job

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Just updated the original post: The jobs are just for union members affiliated with the Boston Building Trades and the SEIU, the T says.

Just union guys...

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Well, that sucks.

Getting out to that neck of the woods would be really difficult but I am no stranger to hard physical labor. Could use the money. I'd bet there are plenty of good workers out there who are not members of a union. Real shame.


- and my ' thumbs up ' was a total mistake while trying to hit reply.


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So now how many poor non-Union dopes who saw the original notice are going to show up tomorrow with shovels and then have to flog back home through the snow? Poorly handled.


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This could be fodder for those trying to pin the current issues on the MBTA's union structure. That non-union members are frozen out of this probably won't be good for optics of it all.

Help is help? No?

Help is help? No? Do they want the snow cleared or not? There's probably a lot of people who aren't being paid while their workplaces are closed (or can't get to them because of no T) What a way to let the unions hijack another useful and much needed program that would undoubtedly benefit many Bostonians.

I suppose

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but help is better help when two people are willing to work for that $30 than one. On what planet is en masse shoveling $30 an hour work? I'm completely in the MBTA's corner on most of this, but I can't see why we should be paying anyone $30 an hour to shovel snow, particularly when it's obviously a nod to the unions of the city.

$30 is nothing

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When you think about the nature of the work it's hardly high pay. Long hours out in the cold. The isolation of the tracks. And Shoveling tracks is a lot more involved than shoveling a sidewalk.

To shovel out that mess

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I'd want people who are in shape and can work through the cold, not just any schmuck who happens to show up at a labor call.

The Laborer's Union should have that. If not, they'll see the consequences when contract renewal is up. That's how the system should work.

Union jobs like this, they can pretty much "fire" you on spot.

If you aren't working up to the supervisors expectations, you can be sent home and replaced with another Union worker. I've seen it happen when these Union workers show up late to jobs. The union rep (who will be there not shoveling snow for probably $60 an hour) will monitor the work being done, and replace those other workers.

Actually, sometimes the union stewards/reps are working supervisors too.

...posted by someone who has

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...posted by someone who has never done a hard day's work of physically demanded labor! This is 8 hours of back-breaking labor. McDonald's pays nearly half that just to serve french fries. I think $30 is the minimum they should be paying.

I suppose

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I'm also getting paid more than that an hour to lie in bed today, so perhaps I don't have the right perspective.

And for what it's worth, under $10 an hour isn't "nearly half" of $30. It's even less than a third. Hell, the $15 an hour I mentioned is closer to "nearly half", so perhaps we are in accidental agreement here.

Not so simple as that

Something about all of the things that the union can provide for a short-time assignment that matters here. Benefits, worker's comp, etc. Takes care of a load of headaches that could arise.

So then it's the lawyers

So then it's the lawyers fault? How about all participants sign a bullet-proof waiver releasing the MBTA and it's contractors from all liability? The Buffalo Bills were going to hire citizens to shovel out the stadium before the game was moved to Detroit back in December. It can be done. This is just another union hijack job.

You can't sign away legal rights

If someone did get hurt doing this work, they have rights. You cannot sign away those rights.

Going with union workers takes care of a lot of potential hassles regarding contract labor - including liability issues and state rules governing contract labor and other labor rights laws.

I know very little about

I know very little about contact and employment law but I just can't believe that there isn't a better way. I was just always under the impression that you could waive your rights as long as you are of sound enough mind to do so. Or even like getting hit by a line drive at Fenway where you enter the contract of buying the ticket with the understanding that you may be injured. I'm still sticking with this being a 589 "snow job"! Wonder if they'll be any detail cops watching said snow shoveling? Jeez......I really need to join a Union.

Legally binding collective bargaining agreements

I'm not sure 589 covers clearing the tracks but you can bet the T has a union contract with some local that covers this work.
They, nor the union, can just willy-nilly opt out. That's not how it works. Seems like some concessions were made due to the extraordinary circumstances, or perhaps these types of emergencies are covered in the contract.

Either way both parties have to abide by the contract or negotiate new terms. As they should.

You know what?

You would be the first to cry foul if they took all-comers and:
- some were not in the US legally
- some were underage
- someone with a preexisting back problem managed to pin the injury on the MBTA
- multiple underdressed people got frostbite
- multiple lawsuits resulted from inadequate working conditions

This way, they get people covered by insurance and boilerplate contracts to show up with the right equipment and clothing and fit to work through a very cold, physical day.


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I'm a building trades union member but haven't heard about this beyond this article. Can you direct me toward an original source from the MBTA? Thanks.


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My original source was a Facebook post by an organizer at Painters and Allied Trades District Council 35, who then took down the post. Also:


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Why is the national guard not involved?

shoveling the T

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I saw a posting asking for ANYONE not just Union workers to come and help for the $30 pr her last night. BUT when I got up this morning to drive my 20 yr old son the posting is different and he would have to be a union worker. Wth Thanks FO making us get up crazy early and shovel out our car for nothing when it could have been fixed at a normal hour

If the MBTA really needs

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If the MBTA really needs bodies to do this work why is it limited to union members only? This seems like a make work patronage scheme now instead of an all hands on deck let's solve a crisis move.

And has anyone been able to get an answer out of the MBTA why they aren't using their snow blowers in the first place? Equipment failure that can't be fixed? What's the deal?


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How many juristictional agreements are broken in this PR stunt by the T? Will all of the new hire be covered by workers comp? Does every worker have training to work around the tracks and do they all have OSHA 10 hour safety training. Are there pre-employment drug screenings. This is very unnerving. A first year journalism student could secure a position w a major daily newspaper by just asking very simple questions of the MBTA and the unions that are sending people to these job fairs. Does a non union hire automatically get representation by the union? Cmon please call these frauds. Frauds who are sitting in their heated living rooms watching Law and Order marathons and putting ghosts on the payroll cash grab that we are paying for.

Not a PR stunt

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Not to toot my own horn or anything (especially since I missed the union-only thing at first), but the only reason you even knew about this beforehand was because I happened to be friends on Facebook with somebody who linked to the post by the union organizer announcing this to his friends - and then I asked the T PR guy about it and he happened to be looking at his mail Sunday night and answered me.

That's not how PR stunts are done.


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Just let him ramble, see how worked up he can get.

Not a Pr Stunt

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i will agree that it is not a Pr stunt. would you agree that it is a cash grab by the painter union. can you cross check to make sure that all of the monies paid out goes to people that actually showed up and worked. Where does the money go and to whom. Someone is making money off of this other than the poor bastards that are freezing all day. Who vets and has oversight of this works project.


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High School seniors are off all week hire them and pay them and credit them with school days. Empty out South Bay and all the other prisons and credit them with time served for shoveling, even if a few of them escape they will soon return because they will freeze to death on the outside. Finally have all the T phonies who have a politically connected job at Park Plaza grab a shovel and help out.

Spoken like ...

Somebody who has never worked a full physical day outside when the forecast high is 15F. A typical walk-to-school parka and boots is not going to cut it here. Not all day, while working. Most teenagers don't have gloves for this, even. Construction workers do.

That's why Work-n-Gear and other stores catering to the trades often have the best gear at he most reasonable prices - you need it, or you don't work. Not trendy fashionable, but high value.

I still have some of my dad's gear from his years of working highway construction in the winter near the Idaho border (now I-84). I only bring it out for extended cross-country trips when it is under 15F - it is too warm at temps above that. I wore out the blaze orange down jacket years ago when biking to work through several tough winters.

People have to remember

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Just how long back in 1978 that the T was shut down continuously and at least today they are running sporadically to try and do what they can. Back then the equipment was a lot newer than it is today and believe it or not they are doing better if you look at the overall picture. I really don't think people realize just how tough it is to keep service running with all the factors figured in. Yes they could do better but give them a break because there are people who have been working round the clock to get the service up and running. Anyone who thinks they can do better should contact the T and tell them how it should be.

Looks like they are allowing everyone

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Looks like they are allowing everyone..

And yes I asked, and she replied with:


Confirmation (more confirmation.. above tweet was removed):


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I just hated the idea of guys going out there and being turned away.

shoveling the T

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have these employees passed a pre-employment drug screening and have they had background checks?

Always one guy

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There's always gonna be one guy, unfortunately today that is you!


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If some soul is gonna be out there in 4-degree weather with eyeball-slicing windchill so that I can take the red line to work sometime before July, I don't care if s/he's all hopped up on every illegal substance I could name, I am THRILLED.

Favoritism: the unfair

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Favoritism: the unfair favoring of one person or group over others. Isn't this unlawful? The same thing applies to choosing all men over women. Why don't the masses that aren't Union EVER stand up for themselves and fight back against this atrocity instead of just complaining about it?

Aren't YOU people sick of these worthless Unions yet?

Yea, let's offer them Mississippi wages...

For massachusetts living costs. If you don't like it, boycott the MBTA. Or vote. Or move. Or get a job with management and fight them. Or get a car. Or go down there and be a non Union worker, or organize something.


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What about other Union workers who are basically sitting at home not being paid wages because of snow days? Do they not get a chance at reaping some of this State money? Like AFSCME ?


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The pay for the outside workers is starting to lag in delivery-----------basically they told them "we won't need you tomorrow and you'll get paid in a week to 10 days" (mailed cheque), so, it reaches the two week mark starting tomorrow...