Firing the transit workers and breaking the union would be glorious, but short of that the damage they are doing to themselves and their cause may ultimately bring about the union’s demise in any case.
This is a union that cannot seem to recognize when it is winning a negotiation: the MTA backed off its demands to raise the retirement age for new workers to 62, from 55. That was a huge victory for the union. The MTA backed off its (pathetically modest) demand that workers contribute a whopping one percent of their earnings to help pay for health care benefits, instead of the current big fat zero. That was a huge victory for the union. The MTA agreed to a 10.5% salary increase phased in over three years, at annual rates of 3, 3.5 and 4 percent, something a lot of private sector workers would be very happy to be promised (if it weren’t for the minor fact that you can’t make promises like that in the private sector, because you might not be able to pay for them). THAT was a huge victory for the union. So why did they walk?
According to one report, they walked because the MTA made a demand at the last minute that new workers pay 6 percent, as opposed to the current 2 percent, toward their pension plans. Anyone who has read the newspapers in New York for a week or two knows that pension costs are going to be the death of the municipal budgets. The MTA’s modest demand was met by the union as if they were being asked to work double shifts without compensation.
Like Jed, I am surprised that the strike has gone into a second day, given the punitive fines being levied on the union, the negative public reaction, the extreme ineptitude of timing such a strike during Christmas season, and the opportunities the strike affords RINOs like Pataki and Bloomberg to talk tough and rally New Yorkers. When even the New York Times condemns the union, you know this is a losing battle.
In my 14 years of living in Manhattan, I can’t count how many times I tried and failed to have useful communication with one of the amoebas working in a subway station token booth. These people have it very good. Driving buses and trains is harder than that, but how much harder? Harder than being a cop or a fireman, neither of which occupation pays near what a transit worker gets to start? I wouldn’t want to be a transit worker returning to work when this strike is over. It won’t be pretty down in the tunnels.
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