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View Full Version : strike by NYC transit workers

2005-12-20, 03:01
34,000 New York city subway and bus employees are expected to go on strike just two hours from now at midnight. Their contract as members of TWU local 100 (http://www.twulocal100.org/) expired last Friday December 16th, but they gave an extension for four days. Their jobs as public civil service employees prohibits them from striking under New York state's Taylor Law (http://www.perb.state.ny.us/stat.asp). Their strike action would be deemed illegal under that law and subject the union members to having two days pay deducted for every day of their strike, when they eventually come back to work. That deduction includes the deduction for their unpaid strike days, so that means that it is twice as costly for them to go on strike as it is for regular workers.

The transit workers work for the government agency called the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, that is controlled by the State of New York. It gets its funds from riders, from bridge & tunnel tolls, taxes, and from government funds. It is therefore not to be viewed as a profitable business, but as a government and taxpayer subsidized service. At times in its annual budgets, the MTA has surpluses and at other times it has deficits. Since it is a public service that has funds coming from many sources, the solution to fixing budget deficits can not be said to come from one particular source. The MTA has tried to give the union workers a bad contract by pointing to their projected budget deficits in the future.

Lately in the round of negotiations leading up to the union contract renewal, both the New York city mayor Bloomberg and the New York state governor Pataki have issued a lot of tough talk and shown their bias against the union by making all sorts of threats. Yet under their administration the contribution of the city and state governments towards the MTA has declined, which led to its worsening financial condition. They should help the MTA in a substantive fashion by supporting increases in funds from their respective governments, rather than supporting the cutting of the benefits of its workers as a way to make up for their own shortcomings.

The most heroic part of the actions of the union, led by Roger Toussaint, is when you consider what they are fighting for. They are not just fighting for themselves but for future generations of transit workers who have not yet been hired. The MTA assured all current members that their current benefits would be preserved in their proposal. What they wanted to create is a tiered system, in which new members would receive fewer benefits. They proposed to the union to change the age of retirement for new hires from 55 to 62. They also want new hires to pay 1% of their wages towards medical benefits, whereas members currently pay nothing. And finally they want new members to pay more towards their pensions. But the union rejected their offer because it cares about the future hires, and is willing to pay doubly in order to go on strike to affirm its principles.

While a strike by these civil service employees is illegal, it is morally the right thing to do and is their duty as government employees to do so, when considering the contract that has been offered to them. What the union is doing, is standing up for a principle that affects not just them, but all of us, by refusing to allow that life for the next generation will be worse. It is really scary when you realize that our representatives in government such as the mayor, the governor, and the MTA believe that the future is so dismal that they expect for it to be accepted as an inevitability that the quality of life and benefits will be worse for the next generation of workers. The government workers who are doing their jobs properly in the spirit of having faith in the public and in the future, are the union workers, who refuse to buy into the condemnation of the next generation to a life worse than one we had. They should be supported and congratulated for going on strike, and I hope that they actually do so.

2005-12-21, 02:29
U are a gov suck-up aren't you.

What don't u understand about illegal anyway?

2006-01-01, 17:19
I won't bother looking it up, but it seems to me that Mayor Giuliani held the line on gov't employee salaries even when the stock market was over inflated, and he also allowed the infrastructure to deteriorate under his regime. Basically he said "screw the next mayor, let HIM deal with angry employees and decrepit bridges and sewers. " That definitely makes him look like a great mayor by comparison.