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December 20, 2005

Transit Strike!

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It happened...subway and bus employees employed by the MTA in the city of New York have gone on a transit strike.

Today should be very interesting.

subway.jpg
While the strike doesn't affect me (I ride Metro North trains in from Connecticut and usually walk the 20-minute walk to my office), I know it affects several people in my department--and goodness knows how many other people in my building. I know my company was trying to set up as many people as possible to work from home, but there is only so much one can do from home.

I did hear a Metro North worker yesterday saying there have been grumblings in his union...I hope he was just spreading a baseless rumor.

Unions, I'm sorry to say, suck. This union in particular will not only be screwing over its employer, but paralyzing an entire city. Think of the money that will be lost by businesses--from the most humble newsstand to large corporations, everyone will be affected. Tourists' vacations will be ruined. The only ones profiting from this strike will be the media, as they are already having a field day with it.

Once upon a time, unions served a vital purpose. I believe that they have now become just as bad, or worse, than the employers they once actually protected employees from. The transit workers' union president was screaming at a rally last week that the MTA just wanted to keep them poor. Poor? The lowest paid workers (booth attendants and cleaning crew) earn between $47K and $55K before overtime. That's not to mention their generous pension plans and their healthcare that they don't have to pay a dime into. Heck, they make more than I do. My college degree obviously wasn't a guarantee of big bucks...

Every day this union is on strike, a New York law says employees will lose two days pay, and the union itself will owe millions in fines. Do you remember when Ronald Reagan fired air traffic controllers when they went on strike back int the 1980s? I think that's a great idea.

8:50 am: There are as many people on the sidewalks as usual, but there is a different feel...people are not happy. Also, my floor is like a morgue. Half of my own department was unable to come in, and the rest of the floor seems to be in the same boat. The one plus was that I was able to walk across both Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue against the light because traffic is much lighter today.

The Man over at GOP and the City has more strike info here and here. He says, "Let the bums strike!" I have another question regarding this strike. If the union gets what it wants, will service improve? I seriously doubt it.

11:55 am: The guy from the mailroom just called the strike a "blackout on wheels." I thought that was really funny! Be sure to check out this site opened up by the TWU (Transit Workers Union) that is allowing open comments (h/t GOP and the City). Many of them are quite nasty! More strike griping can be found at Suitably Flip.

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Posted by Pam Meister at 05:36 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0) | Other
Comments

I really hope the transit union gets done to them what Reagan did to PATCO. GOP and the City compares the wages these "civil" servants make. The transit union goons had better tread lightly. A day or two of this and I wouldn't be surprised if the union goons get their own strike enforcement medicine from the public. I think it'd be funny to see the public stick it to the unions like the unions stick it to the public.

Posted by: PCD at December 20, 2005 10:13 AM

I hope they keep sticking it to the Unions with huge fines. This is killing NY economy. The majority of people in that city rely on public transit. Do the Unions care? Hell no! I Like the new look Pam!

Posted by: Mrs Media Matters at December 21, 2005 03:43 PM

Unions don't suck. They are the reason we have 40 hour work weeks, weekends, safe work environments, kids can go to school instead of working, sick leave, etc.

The reason for this strike is that the city sprung a 4% hike in union member contributions to their pensions at the last minute. They were about to sign a contract and this was a deal breaker. If you do the math, it was a pay cut for the workers. The savings for the higher contributions would have been $20 million over 3 years.

The city has lost $800 million as I write this. Would have been smarter to back off the pension issue for now and get a contract signed.

I would be madder at Bloomberg & Co. for doing such a poor negotiation job. Takes 2 sides to get a strike.

Posted by: Chris at December 21, 2005 08:43 PM

I am not, nor will ever be, a fan of unions. However, I am willing to agree that the MTA and the city have made their share of mistakes as well. There's plenty of blame to go around on this one.

Posted by: Pam at December 21, 2005 09:37 PM
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