View Full Version : Subway Strike
22nd December 2005, 09:23 AM
Any NYCers here? Or anyone else with an opinion?
I'm having a hard time keeping myself informed.
My gut reaction is that it's hard to support a union when the poor are getting punished more than the wealthy.
But I don't have all the facts.
22nd December 2005, 09:46 AM
Not an NYCer, but around where I live we do have essential service laws that force public transit to be maintained during rush hours in big cities during strikes.
On the other hand, walking a couple of miles is good for one's health. I do it every work day twice, and in much colder conditions than in NYC, you just have to dress up for it. Off course, that comment does not apply to the old and the invalid.
22nd December 2005, 10:29 AM
I don't feel particularly well informed about the situation, but that may be because I'm not trying hard enough.
As for the rest of the OP I assume you are questioning whether unions should have the right to strike without jail sentences and million dollars per day fines being imposed?
If we are discussing a situation where there are many employers, the market can establish fairness. But if we are talking about a situation where there are only a few or even just one employer in an industry -- it seems to me that unions are neccesary. That the situation would be far worse without one.
My two cents for what its worth.
22nd December 2005, 10:42 AM
I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, don't own a car or a bicycle, and more or less depend on the subway to get to work. I've spent the past few days enjoying jaunty two-and-a-half hour walks to work, and then waiting around in midtown until 9:00 or so and braving the Long Island Railroad system to get home (circuitously).
My take is that the TWU has been itching to strike for a long time, the MTA is an inscrutable nightmare of unaccountable authority and rampant graft (they were caught keeping two sets of books not long ago), Peter Kalico (the head of the MTA) is a political appointee with no relevant credentials (he's doing a heck of a job), and the MTA badly misjudged the TWU in springing a last minute 6% pension contribution on new employees (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/nyregion/nyregionspecial3/21collapse.html?hp&ex=1135227600&en=aebb5027b30744cc&ei=5094&partner=homepage). They were practically begging for a strike.
The line from Bloomberg has been that police and teachers make less money, that this hurts the poor more than the rich, and so on. A couple of points on this: if my boss came to me and said I had to triple my health insurance contribution, I'm pretty sure I'd complain about it, even though I make considerably more than police or firefighters or teachers. This kind of mindset conveniently sets up a race to the bottom. Public workers who hold the line tend to have the effect of raising wages for other public workers.
As for this hurting working people more than the rich, well, yeah. That's true of just about every cost of living, isn't it? If this hurts the city, the blame lies with the MTA and the local government, not the union. It's not the union's job to represent the people; I'm pretty sure that's what government is for. Taking a risky gambit which has cost the city over a billion dollars to save all of $20 million was a tremendous miscalculation.
If any good comes out of this, it will be in the form of massive restructuring of the MTA.
Brain Lehrer (http://wnyc.org/shows/bl/) had a good show this morning about the various issues and personalities involved, which I would recommend to anyone who wants to know more. It should be available for download later today.
The Central Scrutinizer
22nd December 2005, 10:45 AM
I don't think they are on strike. I just went there for lunch.
22nd December 2005, 10:58 AM
Like Mumblethrax, I also live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan. I generally walk a hour and forty minutes to work in the morning and then take the train home, so my mornings have been basically the same. The evenings are a bit much, though, because instead of walking 4+ miles a day, I'm now walking 8+ miles a day with not much rest in between. I figure that as long as my iPod holds up, so will I. There's news of the TWU returning to work sometime tomorrow while negotiations continue, but I'll believe it when I see it.
The one disheartenening thing is that I don'ty think the union did a good job getting their message out and winning public sympathy. Not enough noise was made about the MTA's multiple books, and the union allowed the media—the NY Post, in particular—to form public opinion against the union. Like any public dispute, it's paramount to win sympathy for your side, and the TWU fell flat in this regard.
22nd December 2005, 11:03 AM
I hear you with the pension problem. It would only be that cut for new employees, but excellent point with regards to other public employees. As I understand it, companies across the board are having trouble keeping up with pension benefits. I would be interested to know about the current economic climate for all industrial companies.
The problem I see with the strike is that those who are wealthier can afford to dodge the situation with only inconvenience. The MTA is punished by the TWU, but those who are in the Bronx can't get to work without shelling out major dollars.
I make half my living tutoring and 90% of my clients have cancelled due to the strike. Makes me pissy.
And to the Central Scrutinizer: I'm so peeved, here on out, it's Quizno's for me.
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