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New York City Crippled By Transit Strike

Millions people in the New York metro are are going to be a little a lot late to the office today, and for the foreseeable future.

NEW YORK (AP) - Subways and buses ground to a halt Tuesday morning as transit workers walked off the job at the height of the holiday shopping and tourist season, forcing millions of riders to find new ways to get around.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had said the strike would cost the city as much as $400 million a day, joined the throngs of people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in the freezing cold as he walked from a Brooklyn emergency headquarters to City Hall. Other New Yorkers car-pooled or rode bicycles.

"I think they all should get fired," said Eddie Goncalves, a doorman trying to get home after his overnight shift. He said he expected to spend an extra $30 per day in cab and train fares.

It is New York's first citywide transit walkout since an 11-day strike in 1980, and officials said they would seek quick court action, which could include stiff fines. Pay raises and pension and health benefits for new hires are main sticking points.

Authorities began locking turnstiles and shuttering subway entrances shortly after the Transport Workers Union ordered the strike. The buses and subways, the nation's largest transit system, serve 7 million riders a day.

Much more at GOP and the City, including a link to the Transit Worker Union Blogspot site where comments are enabled - which is something they might want to rethink...


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Comments (19)

I just don't get the concep... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

I just don't get the concept of striking and causing the city more financial hardship thereby making it harder to pay to the higher wages they are demanding. Ultimately, they and the city will lose.

My sister is going to have ... (Below threshold)

My sister is going to have a hell of a time getting to and from work untill this strike is over but she's on the side of the union workers. NYC has a histroy of stringing people along with out a contract for years on end. I suppose the transit workers decided that they didn't want to go that route.

Yes, except the NYC transit... (Below threshold)
meep:

Yes, except the NYC transit workers have a really sweet deal already, without any raises. Pensions can start at age 55, don't have to pay for any of their health care, and the salaries for the unskilled workers (station agents, cleaners) are very high compared to the rest of NYC. Why anybody would pity them is beyond me. Especially as the MTA was proposing to make the benefits less rich for new entrants, not current employees.

I'm philosophicallly oppose... (Below threshold)

I'm philosophicallly opposed to unions myself. And I'll likely to have suffer through this strike when I visit my family for Christmas. I can see the city trying to save a few bucks by giving new transit workers deals similar to what other city workers have. But the tactic of leaving people hanging with out a contract for years is coming back to bite the city in the butt. And that's probably as much the union's fault as the city's.

And remember all the yellin... (Below threshold)
Ira:

And remember all the yelling and screaming when
Newt and the Repubs (not Clinton, no no no) shut down the government in Dec 1995? Inconsiderate bastards (Repubs, not the union.)

fire them. then start with ... (Below threshold)
cubanbob:

fire them. then start with new hires. the former strikers can apply but with no guarantee that they will be re-hired.

You know, Mayor Bloomberg c... (Below threshold)
Chuckg:

You know, Mayor Bloomberg could make himself a minor god among the people of NYC if he simply:

a) unlocked the subway turnstiles
b) had the NYPD transit cops act as motorment
c) dealt with the 'no ticket takers' by simply not collecting fees.

Not only would the public love him for going 'transit strike? ok, people ride free so the city doesn't grind to a halt!', but it would make the transit workers' union go 'damn, he's serious!'

This presumes that the transit cops can actually drive subway trains as well as ride on them, of course -- and that they're not on strike too. I don't know about either.

ChuckG:It's more tha... (Below threshold)

ChuckG:
It's more than just getting drivers for buses or someone to collect fares. Most fares are automated at this point (Metrocard), so that's not an issue. Knowing how to drive a subway is more complicated than it looks - stopping a 10 car trainset properly in every station it is supposed to is not easy, especially with different track conditions possible. Bus drivers may have an easier time, but they've got to know the routes.

And it would take time to get substitute drivers/motormen/conductors to break the strike.

That said, the TWU don't have my sympathies whatsoever. And the MTA isn't any better. A Pox On Both Their Houses.

Ah. Well, then my suggesti... (Below threshold)
Chuckg:

Ah. Well, then my suggestion is for the Mayor to do what Reagan did to the air traffic controllers -- "You are an essential transportation industry. You cannot be allowed to hold the city hostage. Anybody who isn't back at his job tomorrow? He don't have a job. Meanwhile, I'm advertising nationwide that we're hiring."

You gotta love the followin... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

You gotta love the following sticking points:

1.)
"...the union would reduce its wage demands to 6 percent a year, from 8 percent a year, if the authority promised to reduce the number of disciplinary actions brought against transit workers."

Yes, please stop being mean to us when we do things that are wrong. Or, how about letting the MTA fire the repeat offenders who require disciplinary action? Nah, too reasonable.

2.) "The authority dropped its demand to raise the retirement age for a full pension to 62 for new employees, up from 55 for current employees."

Why can't MTA workers work until they're 62? What other private sector job offer retirement at this age? What makes them more special than anyone else who works hard, like say an administrative assistant in a bank or a plumber or some middle manager (rare bread) in a Fortune 500 company?

3.)
"But the authority proposed that all future transit workers pay 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions, up from the 2 percent that current workers pay."

The union rejected that idea, too. The MTA wants this so that it won't go bankrupt later. A government ageny thinking about the future? Heaven forbid, more reasonableness on the part of the MTA.

And boo-f-ing-hoo. You actually have to pay into your pension like the rest of us that pay into our 401ks? Hell, the more you put in, the more you get back later, Mr. Bus Driver. Best of all, it will keep you out of Section 8 housing when your 56-year old ass is falling asleep from watching f-ing "Friends" re-runs.

Get back to work, NOW. That, or be rightfully fired.

They tried running the trai... (Below threshold)
John:

They tried running the trains way back during the strike of 1918 with management personnel and ended up with what still ranks as the second-worst rail disaster in U.S. history -- 97 dead in a Brookyln rush-hour train crash. It's that memory, plus the openness of the system for disruption/sabotage by disgruntled workers that keeps the MTA from even thinking about pulling a PATCO on the Transport Workers Union.

The problem is that while the MTA may have a $1 billion surplus now, they've got a huge amount of bond payments coming due at the end of the decade, which will more than wipe out that total. But it's not in the MTA or George Pataki's interests to explain the backloading of the debt, nor is it in Pataki's interest as a potential Republican presidental candidate to imitate John Lindsey and give into the TWU's demands, since most people think all New York pols throw taxpayer money around like water to begin with. Not a good image to take into the 2008 GOP primaries.

Toussant also has to know about the MTA's finances, and other than those Upper West Side types who still think it's 1918 and that the union is striking to improve their 50 cent an hour wages forced on them by their capitalist oppressors, it's hard to see the public showing much sympathy for a one percent payment on medical benefits by future, not current, MTA workers. However, since Roger ran for TWU boss on the platform that the union guys who settled the last contract talks were a bunch of wimps, he'll probably have to celebrate the holiday season at Rikers, while the union workers will have to watch the hostility build among the public over the next several days before they come to their senses.

Apparently, the national un... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Apparently, the national union is none too happy with the local that is striking. They are considering taking over the local and negotiating with the MTA because they feel the MTA's offer is reasonable.

http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_354094519.html

On a side note: apparently ... (Below threshold)
Bill:

On a side note: apparently the leader of the TWU is a black lectroid from Planet 10.

I heard that the twu was a ... (Below threshold)
moseby:

I heard that the twu was a local arm of that there al-quider and that bin laden is creaming that the twu has brought NY to its knees.

The TWU has finally killed ... (Below threshold)

The TWU has finally killed the comments on the TWU100 blog. Go figure. I'd figure that the comments were running about 80% against the union. Not a good thing to have that going on. There were more than 800 comments before they took it down.

I just looked at the blog, ... (Below threshold)
eirik:

I just looked at the blog, but noticed that there were no comments. I wonder if they were removed because they weren't all glowing positive for the union.

Every so often, New Yorkers... (Below threshold)
Palmateer:

Every so often, New Yorkers need to be reminded that they have generally been sucking up to the unions too much.

All of us will be personall... (Below threshold)
ameeramac:

All of us will be personally affected in some way by this strike, that is an inevitability. But it is not about all of us, individually, it is about all of us collectively. The TWU members are made up of real people, with real families who are grappling with real issues. What the strike does for me it proves, once again, how connected we are to each other, how what we do can and will affect one another. With that view point, I am able to sympathize with the TWU workers, and KNOW without a shadow of a doub, if I were in their place, I would want to stand up and fight for my future and the future of my family. I commend Mr. Toussant, and I fully support the strikers, 100%. Those who are taking advantage of others never want to negotiate, they never want to talk about it, they never want to ultimately resolve situation because they are the ones who are benefitting from the situation!

Anyone who thinks the union... (Below threshold)
Bruce:

Anyone who thinks the union is the problem needs to get educated and stop listening to the biased mass "news" media and right wing talk radio which make it seem that evil unions are destroying the world.

Everyone who works for a living has the union movement to thank for their vacation pay, sick time off, weekend days (sometimes) with their families, ONLY 40 hrs per week (maybe), overtime pay or comp time, health benefits and pension. None of these things came because employers are wonderful people. They were all EXTRACTED from employers by organized workers who decided the work week shouldn't be 12 hrs/day and 6 or 7 days a week, for next to no pay, with little or no workplace safety.

It's not the union that brought the city to a halt, it's the intransigent financially bloated MTA that was going to undersell its most valuable property for millions less than it was worth. They're the whores, followed by Bloomberg and Pataki.

The Taylor law is a criminal law, written by elected criminals in the legislature who were looking for votes, and it blames the unions for stalemates, but actually provokes stalemates by putting all the power with the employer. It raises the position of bureaucrats to that of professional thugs. The only difference between them and a hit squad is the courts and the AK-47.

That whore Gov. Pataki is guiding the negotiations because he thinks he's going to run for President -- and, eh, hmmm, actually get elected. NOT!! And he wants to look like Ronald Reagan with PATCO. You idiots who want a repeat, go ahead, replace the workers like they did in 1918... but do us all a favor and don't be a chicken hawk like you are with Iraq -- you put your own body where your ignorant fat mouths are and get in the first car of the train so that when the untrained scab crashes into the pillar and the wall, YOU'll be the stuff they have to scrape off, and not someone else who pays for your ignorance.

This union's strike is heroic and should be supported, with letters, phone calls and emails and faxes to Gov. Pataki, to Bloomberg, and the MTA and state legislators, telling them the strike is going to make things better for ALL working people, and demanding that all legal sanctions be vacated, the Taylor Law repealed, and if they don't listen, then a general strike should be mobilized.




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