Guess where high school dropouts can make $400 an hour



In this week's imaginary career advice column, one reader writes:

"Dear Ed, I'm a high school drop out, have no marketable skills, but I feel entitled to earn $400 an hour. What kind of career path could you recommend?

Sincerely,

Unworthy but Entitled"

Well, Unworthy, I'm glad you asked that. It turns out I have just the job for you: performing largely unskilled labor building subway tunnels in New York City!

An accountant discovered the discrepancy while reviewing the budget for new train platforms under Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

The budget showed that 900 workers were being paid to dig caverns for the platforms as part of a 3.5-mile tunnel connecting the historic station to the Long Island Rail Road. But the accountant could only identify about 700 jobs that needed to be done, according to three project supervisors. Officials could not find any reason for the other 200 people to be there.

“Nobody knew what those people were doing, if they were doing anything,” said Michael Horodniceanu, who was then the head of construction... “All we knew is they were each being paid about $1,000 every day.”

The estimated cost of the Long Island Rail Road project, known as “East Side Access,” has ballooned to $12 billion, or nearly $3.5 billion for each new mile of track — seven times the average elsewhere in the world.

Along with interviews with contractors, the documents reveal a dizzying maze of jobs, many of which do not exist on projects elsewhere.

There are “nippers” to watch material being moved around and “hog house tenders” to supervise the break room. Each crane must have an “oiler,” a relic of a time when they needed frequent lubrication. Generators and elevators must have their own operators, even though they are automatic.

The agreement for Local 147, the union for the famed “sandhogs” who dig the tunnels, includes a pay rate for most members of $111 per hour in salary and benefits. Weekend overtime pays quadruple — more than $400 per hour.

Some of these laborers (those who operate the drills), require some skills, but many others like the elevator button pushers are purely unskilled laborers who don't even need a high school diploma.

One part of Local 147’s deal entitles the union to $450,000 for each tunnel-boring machine used. That is to make up for job losses from “technological advancement,” even though equipment has been standard for decades.

But maybe the idea of working on subway tunnels, even at $400 an hour, doesn't appeal to you. If you're willing to consider a small pay cut, consider working for the New York transit authority, where the average compensation is $140,000 a year.

New York City Transit paid $6.2 billion in wages and benefits for the 44,256 workers and bosses who operate the subways and buses. That works out to average compensation of $140,000, essentially the same as workers in city agencies, according to Jamison Dague, the director of infrastructure studies at the Citizens Budget Commission.

You could even work in a ticket booth for about $112,000 a year, even though 83% of all subway fares are sold by machines and workers in ticket booth have nothing to do most of the time and are prevented, by union rules, from helping out in any other part of the station.

This is all made possible by the cozy relationship between unions and Democratic politicians.

Several contractors said the unions are able to maintain the deals because everybody knows they are politically powerful. The unions working on M.T.A. projects have donated more than $1 million combined to Mr. Cuomo during his administration, records show. The vendors that worked on the East Side Access, Second Avenue subway and No. 7 line projects have given a combined $5 million to New York politicians since the projects began in 2000, a Times analysis found. A Times analysis of the 25 M.T.A. agency presidents who have left over the past two decades found that at least 18 of them became consultants or went to work for authority contractors, including many who have worked on expansion projects.

You may ask, why do liberals tolerate this? Why do they keep voting Democrat? Are they unaware of what's going on?

Of course not.

Every few years when articles like this are written, people express outrage for a few minutes, and then they continue voting lockstep Democrat at the next election. Most liberals think this kind of massive corruption is the unavoidable cost of running government, and since Democrats are so virtuous on issues of race, class, and sex, any excesses are to be excused. The corruption of the Cuomo administration is excused in the same way as Bill Clinton dropping his pants in the Oval Office: not ideal, but look at all that money he's giving to people on welfare and Planned Parenthood!

[originally in AT]



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