Workers Vanguard No. 1063

6 March 2015


Boston: Workers Plowed Under


Boston, MA
19 February 2015

To Workers Vanguard:

As I look out my window here at work it is snowing yet again. The uninterrupted barrage of snowstorms that began January 26 has brought us in excess of 90 inches of snowfall and has all but crippled the city of Boston.

As I’m sure you have read, the biggest impact has been the crippling effect on the extremely antiquated rapid transit system, which has been completely shut down for a total of 3 days. Entire sections of the Red Line are closed and passengers are being shunted onto shuttle buses which as often as not over the past couple of weeks have failed to show up leaving passengers waiting for hours in the frigid temperatures. A friend speculated this was climate change meets utter infrastructure fail. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (“MBTA” or “T”) has been groaning under extreme overcrowding together with extremely aged out subway and commuter rail train sets. Now as the incoming governor Baker intones that the system’s performance is unacceptable he has announced at least $40M in cuts to it!! And to boot he recently announced the use of prison labor to clean the train tracks!!

This has provided additional forward momentum to continue the onslaught against public employee unions, particularly the unionized T workforce. In point of fact the workforce has bent over backwards to try to keep the stations clear of snow and to clear the tracks. On WGBH radio, Jim Braude, a “liberal” talk radio host, had a program a few days ago all about how the workforce was too overcompensated and harping on the necessity of cutting pensions and outsourcing. Braude was discussing it as if there was no question about it. They complained about how people were being paid $30/hour to clean off tracks. So union busting is clearly where they’re going with this. The good news was the poll today that had Baker’s popularity well below former MBTA manager Beverly Scott’s—people can see that he’s letting the T swing in the wind. And the riding public is by and large not blaming the workers. Everyone knows that the legislature has repeatedly refused to fund it adequately.

It is strange that there has been very little coverage of how the homeless population is faring during this brutal weather. No doubt the shelters are full to overflowing and there are many people freezing to death on the streets rather than venture into the shelters.

All in all the past few weeks have provided us with a chemically pure example of capitalist irrationality!

Terry M.