Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Strike! Strike!

I didn't expect it, but the MTA and the workers union couldn't solve their differences.

I'm working from home today, but tomorrow I won't have that luxury, so here's hoping they work it out. But for those of you who had to walk in to work, please try to bear in mind that this is not the workers' fault, as much as the media and in particular Bloomberg and Pataki would have you believe. This is the MTA's attempt at fitting in with the current business-first culture that is running rampant across this country. Between Wal-Mart freezing unions out of their stores, the airlines cutting pensions, factories across the country being non-union shops, and the teachers going without a contract for years at a time, the union is a dying breed. This city has even made a law saying that a strike is illegal, which is in so many words saying that the union itself is illegal, because what other weapon does a union have in its arsenal?

If you voted for Bloomberg, you see now what is so bad about him. A Democrat would have stepped in. His goal is to break this union, entrenching himself firmly on the side of big business. Even a business as poorly run as the MTA who cook the books, who raise the fares every year while cutting service, who make their workers change their jobs from customer service to garbage collection, who tried to sell some sweet land to the New York Jets at half its appraised value. The MTA never made a real effort at negotiating because they didn't think the WTU had the balls.

Workers unite!


Matthew Smith said...

I understand where you're coming from, respect your defense of the "little guy" and agree completely about the gross incompetence of the MTA and its muckity mucks...but to say that MTA employees should bear no fault is just plain wrong.

The reason an MTA strike is illegal should have been apparent during yesterday's rush hour. From my safe vantage point in Chicago, things looked like 9/11-lite. With the traffic jams, crowds walking over bridges and the tens of thousands of man hours lost commuting, didn't Tuesday have a distinctly Al Queda feel to it?

It is also illegal for firemen and policemen to strike, and while this fact deals a significant blow to their bargaining position in contract negotiations, would you argue for those groups to be allowed to abandon their posts in the pursuit of better benefits? MTA employees KNEW that their strike was illegal, and whether it should have been so or not, their walking out on the job was more terrorism than it was union brotherhood.

Michael Grant said...

Terrorism? Jesus, you sounds like a Republican. I heard that Saddam was responsible for the strike.

Listen - of course the WTU bears some responsibility, but much of the media puts it ALL on them, when the MTA has no incentive to negotiate as long as a strike is illegal, and they've been stonewalling the entire time. They're both at fault. Perhaps almost equally.

To compare them to cops or firefighters is plain unfair. When the subways go down, there is a HUGE economic burden placed on the city, its residents and business owners. But if the cops or firemen go on strike, people die. There is a difference.

I was also pleased to see these poll numbers from New Yorkers:
Who's at fault?
41% - both equally
27% - MTA
25% - Union

And in the interest of full disclosure, it's not like I wasn't inconvenienced. I had to catch a carpool yesterday at 7am. I don't normally wake up until 8:30. Then, I walked home the 3 miles across the bridge last night. I am willing to suffer for the cause of labor. Workers unite!

Matthew Smith said...

A Republican? Ouch. Dude, you didn't have to be mean. I am glad that you gave some ground on your original opinion; my point was that the blame should be shared...you clarified your stance and we're on the same page. And yes, I was reaching a bit with the PD/FDNY comparisons.

I will say this, however: Al Queda would have killed (both literally and figuratively) for the opportunity to disrupt NYC's commerce and citizens half as much as did this strike. At a time of the year when small retailers face their greatest pressures, many will not survive 2006 because of lost revenue in late 2005.

Now who's looking out for the little guy?