Tuesday, December 20, 2005


This morning I was informed of the transit strike, not by the television, internet, or radio, but by a lowly text message. I accepted it and made my way to my bus stop, which is now my carpool stop.

There were lots of people offering riders trips across the Triboro bridge, as a gesture of good will and cooperation. The Triboro bridge does not have a passenger requirement like the bridges below 96th Street -- to get across, a driver must have three passengers on those.

The traffic across the Triboro was backed up horribly. It took about 2 hours to get to work which should be a 45 minute trip on the bus even with all the stops. I can only imagine how the bridges downtown looked.

I said, "What would we do if we ever had to evacuate New York?"

My co-worker said deadpan and resigned to the fact, "We'd be unable to do it. We'd die."

At the end of the day, I don't hate the transit workers. I understand that they are trying to get a good deal (not only for themselves, but for workers in the future) and that if they just take any ole deal, it will roll down to other professions who will get shittier and shittier deals. Furthermore, from what I understand the MTA had a $1 Billion dollar surplas, which they spent up real quick just the other day which totally looks like a spiteful little kid eating up his whole birthday cake so that when the other kids show up they can't have any. They also flaunt this "discounted holiday fares" in their faces. They can find a way to blow a billion dollars, raise fares, then offer half price fares, but they can't give the workers a raise? Further, blue-collar work is constantly disvalued and insulted in this country. If I hear one more "our man on the street" type say that, for example, "driving a bus is frickin easy, man" I'm going to lose it. For one thing, TWU employees work with the public--the crazy ass, over-the-top New York Public--on a scale unlike any other, except maybe police. Their jobs are dangerous and difficult, and as their strike demonstrates, absolutely essential to a relatively comfortable life in New York City.

BUT, I don't think the TWU executives are entirely not crooked either. This whole mess is a matter of two big organizations trying to flex their muscles and prove they've got the biggest dick. Bloomberg can't go back on saying he'll never give in to their extortion, and he can't have Roger Touissant, the TWU president out there taking pot shots at him making Bloomie look like a pussy if he gives in at all. Touissant himself can't look like a pushover to the TWU members who are going to re-elect him--or not--real soon. So in an effort to sword fight with their cocks, Bloomberg (who I have always liked), the MTA, and the TWU executives are screwing the transit workers and the public at large.

Some quotes, from NY1:

"The MTA's not giving us a fair share so I hope the public understands that this is what we got to do,” said one transit worker.

"We are united in this transit struggle. Roger Toussaint has our full support," added another.

"First of all we want to apologize to the general public,” added a third. “I mean this is something I hope the public understands what we're going through. We don't want to be out here. We are freezing, we know we're not going to get any money, but the fact of the matter is the future of our union is at stake here."

Meanwhile, workers walking off the job at the 14th Street and Eighth Avenue station in Chelsea told NY1 they didn't want to go on strike, but one worker said "sometimes you need to take a step backward to see where you're going."

"It wasn’t really a surprise. Wwe felt like we need to go on strike,” said another worker. “The T[ransit] A[uthority] has been abusing us for quite some years now."

"Nobody wants to be on strike,” added another. “We're going to have family members affected by the strike. Nobody wants to see the strike."

"They showed us this billion dollars that they had and it's like going to the candy store and saying, 'Oh, here's a bunch of candy here, but you can't have any.' That's a slap in the face," said yet another striking worker.

"The way it's going we got to stay here ‘til we're 70 before we can retire with our pension," added another.

"I gotta stand with my members and stand strong," said yet another TWU member. "And hopefully this day will be resolved – soon."

The Transport Worker's Union, I think, is going to end up suffering more for this than if they'd just taken that last deal, which was pretty good. As the mayor pointed out, and I paraphrase, these people who make $50,000 to $60,000 per year are preventing people who make $20,000 to $30,000 from making a living. People will remember this for a long time and give a lot of dirty looks to say the least. But when the Union Bosses say strike, they kind of have to strike. And if there are any of them who would say, "a strike is illegal, I can't afford the fines associated, and I choose not to", the social repurcussions of doing that would be worse than just striking.

1 comment:

anne arkham said...

The only way to make a living on $20,000-30,000 in Chicago is to live with someone who makes a lot more.