“Dirty, delayed, and dangerous.” That’s the slogan of a new ad campaign that blames New York City’s subway woes on construction unions.
The campaign plays on New Yorkers’ mounting frustrations with a system roiled by delays and overcrowding. It’s part of a volley of attacks on the city’s building trades unions by powerful developers and corporate mouthpieces.
The “Subway Scam” ads are the latest baloney from the Center for Union Facts, a corporate-backed nonprofit devoted to attacking unions. According to recent tax filings, its funders include Long Island hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major backer of the Trump presidential campaign and right-wing media outlet Breitbart News.
Subway delays have more than doubled in the past five years. Last year a series of New York Times articles dug into the history of neglect of the city’s transit system.
The paper faulted various politicians for starving the transit budget, miring the system in debt, and squandering construction funds on station makeovers instead of maintaining signals and tracks. While New York’s property values have skyrocketed — thanks in part due to subway access — none of the tax revenue from sales has been set aside for transit.
The Times trained its spotlight on the high cost of building new subway lines. New York’s per-mile transit construction costs are the highest in the world, according to the paper.
Part of that is due to the high cost of worker health insurance, which in the US gets rolled into labor costs, unlike in other countries with national health care systems. But the series claimed that only accounted for one-tenth of increased costs.
High-priced consultants were mentioned briefly, along with higher land and insurance costs. New York City also has a higher cost of living than most of the world.
But the investigation zeroed in on union wages, benefits, and supposedly archaic work rules.
The Times painted a picture of overstaffed construction sites where hundreds of…