Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The One Thought That Strikes Me

So for those not living in NYC (curse my transnational popularity for not allowing me to speak strictly to my NYC constituents), you may be slightly interested to know that the Transit Workers Union (TWU) has gone on strike, rendering the city a chaotic mess.

My sense is that public opinion falls on the side of the MTA, basically calling the TWU assholes for short-circuiting the city a week before Christmas for their own selfish reasons.
Since 1999, transit worker salaries have more than kept pace with inflation, rising to an average of $63,000 for train operators and $54,000 for conductors. The MTA proposal would have boosted those numbers to $68,000 and $59,000 while opening the door to substantially more. Toussaint responded by demanding raises totaling more than 25% and refusing what he called givebacks.

more ...

It's definitely bad timing. And maybe the TWU is in the wrong. But this reminds me of how it's so easy for us to get accustomed to the status quo. When it's 60 degrees and the temp dips to 35, we run for our winter coats and shiver. When it's been 10 degrees and it shoots up to 35 degrees we feel like throwing on shorts and tees.

So maybe this is similar. We set the bar so low for those who are truly the engine of any metropolis that we are indignant when they ask for a small percentage of their actual value.

Everyone says the transit workers cost the city millions by pulling a stunt like this. So if they're so invaluable, doesn't that mean they should be paid millions? Or at least $60-70K.

Teachers should be taking note. Their salaries are probably in gross need of a correction also. No one gives money away for free anymore. You have to demand it and leverage your position.

Until civil [servants], teachers etc. start making ARod paper, my freelance ass says power to the people.


  1. People are selfish and ignorant in that order. In some cases ignorance cancels out self interest (George Bush doesn't care about most people) in some cases these forces work together (disdain towards mta workers for striking). Then again, of course, I had the option of working from home and need to start training for the 2008 olympic speed walking competition anyway.

    In other words I raise my metro card to the workers of the mta even the express conductors that won't open their doors even as a local train arrives across the platform.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. While I question some of TWU's demands, I can't get on the across-the-board hatred either. But like the commenter above me, I can work from home and if I had to go into the office, the 40-minute walk to Chelsea isn't so bad, so I have it easier than a lot of commuters. Still, what's the point of a strike if it doesn't create inconvenience?

    There's also a trend across corporate America of cutting back on employee benefits while executive salaries and bonuses remain unaffected. Maybe benefits were too generous and this is just a correction, maybe. But if organized labor wants to stem this trend, then more power to them, I say.

    Also, re: teachers
    They've been working without a contract for 4 years now (I think), and it's going to stay that way because they won't/can't strike. People bring that up as a reason why they shouldn't strike. Exactly the opposite, I say.

    Whatever the merits of TWU's demands, the MTA goofed on this one - announcing the record surplus before settling the contract was pure dumbfuckery, as well as letting it expire during the holiday season.

  4. I'm no union buster and I hate to bring down those fighting for a better life, but these guys and gals have gone off the deep-end. I don't blame it on the workers because I think they would have accepted the MTA proposals if given a democratic voice; these Union reps. on the other hand - woah. They need to be fired, and I wish they could be personally fined for this ridiculous act of bravado.

    Imagine if teachers or police officers went on strike?!? They actually deserve extremely high salary increases, as opposed to the very well paid MTA workers. Fighting for their future? More like manipulated into losing wages plus the extra they're gonna lose in fines under the Taylor Act, not to mention any huge fines taken out of their pension plan if the current litigation against the Union (and its members) is successful.

  5. Toussaint is my boyfriend - Even with those ridiculous-ass sunglasses. If you can't work from home, then you should get out there and hustle your ass a ride. That's what we're all doing - this is the city of hustle. Hell, I might hustle my ass a ride to the city for a holiday party I'm trying to crash...

  6. I'm "elderly" enough to remember the transit strike in 1980. Difference is, it was in the spring (I think), so walking to work didn't totally suck, even if it took a couple hours.

    I am totally confused at this point about the strike issues. I was sure I'd heard that the MTA had a billion dollar surplus. Nevertheless, I thought it was totally loco to do the half-fare holiday thing.

    Then I saw the ads the TWU put on the air as soon as the strike started. One woman said that the MTA spent their entire billion dollar wad overnight. WTF? That can't be true, can it?

    From the link you provided, it seems like the TWU is not being offered such a shitty deal. In terms of being selfish, I don't think it is selfish to bemoan a transit strike that will cost the city (businesses, tourism, etc.) over a billion dollars if it continues for a week. And yes, some people do have to commute to work--including police, firefighters, and teachers.

  7. Ultimately, the workers--or the union that represents them--are looking for power that the MTA won't offer them. That power extends beyond pay increases over the next few years and pensions for some. If the TWU is going to mean anything in twenty years--and their chances don't look good--then they have to be able to protect and provide for newer workers.

    Likewise, the workers who are helping make the billion dollar surplus are making a claim for a voice in how to spend it. I say, more power to them. Probably won't happen, but the strike shows that they do have some power, no matter how hemmed in by politicians and judges.

    Of course, easy for me to say when my greatest inconvenience re: the strike is incessantly honking horns in the morning. That and getting to LaGuardia is going to be a bitch.

  8. I think the strike is simply a demonstration of smart tactics at an opportune time, and rather than being mad that we can't get around as conveniently as we are used to we should congratulate the MTA workers for having the balls to take a stand for what's rightfully theirs. These days there is a lot of discourse but it is rare that we see effective and timely strategies employed in social activism. It is true that it is inconvenient, especially at this time of year, but I am all for a worthy cause so I have to join in the chants of "power to the people!"

  9. cool larry12/21/2005

    Hey Mike..THEY ARE their elected union reps who ARE elected to represent them in these matters, just like your congressmen, senators and such, they ARE democratically elected! My opinion though is that binding arbitration is the way to go in this matter.

  10. cool larry12/21/2005

    ps. TAN, thanks for the excellent observations in this matter,

  11. although I saw an interview with Toussaint lastn ight. along with analysis by Ed Koch, karl McCall, and D'Amato ... their analysis swayed me against the TWU a little. just on the strength that they're fighting a battle they probably can't win, and might be cutting their nose to spite their ass.

  12. TAN,
    the battle is way bigger than just the TWU local in NYC. workers' rights have the unfortunate connotation of being associated with socialism/communism. is the most powerful labor union in the U.S. going to be the baseball players association?

    I work for the city and I know what the TWU is going thru by trying not to giveback the quality of life benefits for their future union members. I'm no pinko commie bastard for wanting the TWU mwmbers to get their weight up, because I know that more money in poor peoples hands only means that there will be more money spent on useless consumer bullshiite.


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