Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tech Support 101 and 9% Raises

It is so unreal how the MBTA is turning the tables on the three MIT students. This students must feel like they are living in a nightmare.

In an article from today's Boston Globe, the MBTA's Chief Technology officer gave employees the following warning in an email:
"The e-mail, sent yesterday afternoon and obtained by the Globe, warned MBTA computer users to "be aware of the possibility of malicious activity aimed at MBTA Information Technology (IT) assets and resources."

This is IT 101 - employees should ALWAYS be aware of harmful emails. Is the MBTA really the juvenile circus they come off as being in the press? Are they professional at all, what so ever?

Maybe I'm just too close to techies, but I sincerely doubt these students wanted to hack into the MBTA's system. It can be hard to find original research in academia. Why can't the T look at this as three students who just saw an opportunity for some original research that could actually be applied instead of just theoretically discussed?

Robert Caron of Northborough wrote a letter to the Globe's editors with a similar sentiment (albiet a lot more pro-Grabauskas than I usually am):
IT'S SURPRISING to see the MBTA's actions concerning the MIT student project concerning Charlie Card security ("T sues 3 students before hacker show," City & Region, Aug. 10). This is very unlike Dan Grabauskas; I can only guess he was browbeaten by his legal staff into wielding a sledgehammer here.

Grabauskas has long been a competent, out-of-the-box state official. He has a shining track record for fixing what's broken in state agencies, often with the most innovative of solutions.

What I would have expected is Grabauskas to form some kind of team or partnership with the students, praising MIT for its students' contributions to the betterment of the Commonwealth, and reaping their undoubted expertise. Instead, it seems like both an operational and promotional opportunity missed.

As if the T isn't in enough hot water in terms of budget, both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe report this morning that more than 200 T executives are receiving a 9% raise.

Are you kidding me? Seriously - are you really kidding me? Everyone - raise your hand if you've ever worked at a for-profit company and if you received a 9% raise when revenue is down?

According to the Herald, the raise will be spread out across three years. Still - that's 3% a year. I've worked at profit-driven companies that have given a lot less than a 3% raise when times were tough. Here are some quotes from the Herald article:

Rene Mardones, community organizer for the T Riders Union, blasted the raises given the fiscal situation, saying, “I understand the working class people might need a raise to keep up with the cost of living, but for senior executives, it’s hard to swallow.”

MBTA officials declined to say how much the raises, which are for managers often raking in $100,000 a year or more, would cost. The wage hike comes after employees at the largest union at the MBTA won $150 million in raises over the next two years in an arbitration settlement.

It is pretty hard to have any sympathy for the devil.

Our favorite GM Dan Grabauskas was quoted with the following:

“I don’t see any reason to penalize this very small number of employees simply because they are not in the union,” Grabauskas said.

Dan - 240 employees (confirmed by The Globe), is not a "very small number of employees." You must think that the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are utter morons. It must be really good to be among the 4% of employees who are T managers. Boy - they really deserved their raises because your agency is just purely top-notch.

The MBTA has estimated the pay increases - if applied to all 6,300 MBTA employees - will cost the agency $150 million more over the next two years. Grabauskas has not said how the agency will pay for that, but he has acknowledged it will be a challenge given the MBTA had to deplete its reserves this year to patch a $75 million deficit this year.

Where is our Governor? This is crazy.

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