Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New York Transit Workers Strike (Out, for Good?)

Coming from a "union" household, it is hard for me to get up much ire against strikers; it seems like a quaint, old-world way to get attention, and I tolerate it in the spirit of a bizarre kind of personal multiculturalism...

Today's transit strike in New York doesn't overly inconvenience me - New Jersey Transit still gets me into the city; and rather than take a cross-town train, I simply walked the 30-odd blocks back and forth to work. With the temperature sub-freezing, I suppose the timing could be better, but no finer time to walk the streets of Manhattan than Christmas!

But...for people whom live in places like Brooklyn or Queens, their trips to work were hellish ordeals, waiting hours in the cold for LIRR trains or private bus lines. Many could not get in at all, having to sacrifice salary or sick days instead.

And for what are these innocents sacrificing? The MTA is offering the union a raise of over 10% over the next three years; and simply asking that new employees, effective next year, retire at 60 instead of 55; and contribute a few percentage points of their salary to the cost of the oustanding medical/retirement benefits they recieve.

Union President Roger Toussaint's counteroffer: No benefit help; reduce retirement age to 50.

Is he nuts? Did he see how many tens of thousands of Americans lost their jobs at General Motors simply because the company could no longer afford to pay the retiree benefits? American cars are thousands of dollars more expensive than they need to be to finance retirees; and slowing sales due to value/price have forced massive layoffs. Does the TWU want to put New York City in the same situation as GM twenty years from now - forcing a financial crisis that would eventually cost thousands of jobs? The TWU, and Toussaint, don't care...or maybe they don't know...would all these workers really be striking if they knew it was simply to save a few bucks for unborn employees? Note that the TWU demands are not posted or broadcast anywhere; they simply keep saying they are looking for "appreciation" and "respect".

Well, even in liberal New York, they are losing respect by the busload, from people whom would love to have the benefits/salaries/retirement these workers already possess. There is no support for these guys in the street; none at all.

And me? I say...stay on strike. Lose two day's pay for every day you are out. Have your union lose $1 million a day in fines, and probably lose their check-off fees as well. Hopefully, Bloomberg can pull a Reagan and fire some of your sorry asses - at the very least he should pull back his final offer, and force the TWU to take less than they might have had Monday night.

And then you selfish bastards can finally look back at what you had, and understand how lucky you once were...

Funny link to some TWU/Public to-and-fro here:
General Motors, pummelled:

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