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Laid-off MTA workers hope to get their jobs back

A man gets assistance from a station agent

A man gets assistance from a station agent in the New York City subway. (Getty) Photo Credit: A man gets assistance from a station agent in the New York City subway. (Getty)

More than 100 MTA workers laid off when the agency tightened its belt in 2010 still don't have their jobs back, and many say they will lose their unemployment benefits this week.

Of 454 station agents let go as the cash-strapped agency nixed two subway lines and dozens of bus routes, 120 are still waiting to be rehired, according to the MTA, though nearly 50 of them were able to get temporary positions as station cleaners as they wait to return to their old jobs.

Narinder Singh, 46, will be the last person to get re-hired, according to the Transport Workers Union, because he was the last person hired.

Singh, who is still unemployed, said his layoff came at a particularly bad time. He had quit his gig as a jewelry store manager to take a job with the MTA for $23 an hour, and recently bought a home house in Richmond Hill. He's now barely paying bills by renting out two-thirds of the house, he said.

"We're crying, we're begging," said Singh, who pleaded with the MTA's board last week to bring back the 120 workers. "They don't see the pain of these people like me. They don't feel that pain."

"My mind is numb. I don't know what to think, what to do," Singh told amNewYork. "Maybe I have to sell umbrellas or handkerchiefs on the street."

A spokesman for the MTA said the agency didn't know when Singh would be rehired.
Paul Piazza, a union representative for stations, said he's hoping the MTA re-hires the remaining workers by the summer, since the agency had pledged to the union that they would rehire agents as others are promoted or retire. But Piazza acknowledges that some workers may not be able to wait that long.

"I wouldn't want to be in their position," Piazza said. "I just pray they're going to be O.K."


Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja

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