Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The New York Transit Strike

Having been born and raised in NYC, I am old enough to have experienced the last transit strike, first hand, 25 years ago. Like then, this is an illegal strike, and it must be ended. Now.

Now I know there are plenty out there crying that the Union has a right to strike, but they lost that right when a state law was passed saying it was illegal to do so. If you don't like the law, work to change it. And to anyone who applied for a job since that law was passed: you knew what you were getting into.

Next up, the reasons they're on strike are absurd. Only the low-paying Transit jobs start at a measly $15./hr, with full free benefits -- meaning, none of the health care cost anything out of pocket, at all, nor are there any deductions for health insurance. How many of you readers can make such a claim? Even the Track Workers, who are on the low-end of the pay spectrum, start at that $15/hr and get bumped up to $20 in 36 months. Nice raise.

Next is retirement. Half-pay after 25 years. Good Lord, if I took a Transit job at 20, I'd be approaching retirement.

Back to benefits again: The City wants new Union hires to pay a paultry 1% for their healthcare premiums, and 6% for their pensions. This, so says the Union, is a non-starter. Leave a comment if your job asks nothing more than a 1% for health insurance.

Then are all the other perks: free Metro Cards, 12 paid holidays, vacations, etc. etc. It's a good deal. Hell, it's a deal of all deals, and one that should not be knocked.

So the City offers 3% raise for each of 3 years. The union wants 10%, each year. A show of hands: how many people out there get 10% raises? Not many, not many.

Fact: NYC Transit workers get more pay and faster raises than any NYC Cop, Firefighter, or Sanitation worker. Yes, some Transit jobs are dangerous; don't take them. That's pretty easy!

I want to see these fines imposed, and paid! Too often they get wiped away in those last minute negotiations after strikes. No: I want them paid! By the Union, by the Union heads, anyone who authorized the strike.

WABC/AM-77 News reported some 1,000 workers have crossed the lines and have reported to work. They also reported striking workers have been assessed penalties of 2 days pay for every day they're on strike. GOOD! They know the law (or should); this strike is illegal. Punnish the law-breakers. Don't make those 1,000 workers the patsies; let them get paid, and dock the lazy ones.

And to Mayor Bloomberg: recall the die cast by President Ronald Reagan. Give the Union 48 hours to return to work. Then fire any who remain on strike. Let them reapply for their jobs, and the starting salaries.

Collective Barganing is fine, but when even the International TWU calls for an end to the strike, this Local is out of control. I'd love to see the International step in a disband the Local's leadership.

How many people are losing their salaries because they can't get to work, or if they do, can't do any work because deliveries are late or non-exisitent? How many small shops - the coffee shops, news stands, etc.- are idle because there isn't any commuter traffic? How many kids and college students are scrambling to get to their classes (albeit a slower, holiday week?). How many tourists are now virtually stranded in Manhattan (I have rented a car in Midtown... it's not easy).

Give them 48 hours, and then fire those who don't return. And then send their leaders to jail.

Give the taxpayers a real Christmas present.

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