Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is the NYC Transit Strike George Bush's Fault?

No, it is not. But I'm sure some nut job out there will try to blame it on him.

I'm holding out hope that one of the liberal judges in New York does his/her job, finds the union in contempt, holds that it and its members have violated the Taylor Law (New York's law that proscribes striking by public employees), throws the union leadership in jail and starts fining the local and the international.

This is not just a long walk to work. In fact, my commute was not affected by it at all (I live in New Jersey, take the train into Penn Station and walk the 6 blocks to work). But this affects New York in a great number of ways -- with more congested streets, it will take longer to get emergency workers to where they need to be in an emergency. It affects garbage pick up, sanitation, street cleaning, it puts more cops on the street directing traffic instead of doing what we need them to do. It costs the city a lot of money in overtime. It costs hard working New Yorkers (and people from New Jersey and Connecticut) more money to get to work. Its illegal.

In case you have not followed the bargaining, a few points you should know. The union was 8% raises each year over the next 3 years. The MTA is willing to give 3%. The MTA wants all new workers (those hired after the beginning of the next contract) to pay up to 1% of their salary for health benefits. The union wants health benefits to stay completely free. These are the main sticking points. Although I think the MTA may be playing unnecessary hardball with 3%, the fact that the union wants 8% raises each year for 3 years is ridiculous. Not many people get 8% raises in one year, not to mention for 3 years in a row. Additionally, the union must realize that EVERYONE in the private sector pays something for their health benefits. Its not a free fringe benefit anymore. It can't be -- it has gotten too expensive (which is a debate for another day). A 1% salary deduction for it seems reasonable to me.

The union is willing to back down on their 8% request if the MTA agrees to soften their disciplinary policies and not discipline workers as often (or as much). This is also a ridiculous request. If you are a NYC Transit employee, just do your job, show up on time and smile and you won't ever have to worry about being disciplined.

The union needs to give more than they are willing to. If not, and if the MTA gives in, look for another fare hike sometime soon.

If you want to read a little about the talks, the strike and walking to work in 20 degree weather, check out the following links.

New York City Transit Strike Is On

NYC Subway, Bus Operators Strike

Key Issues in the New York City Transit Strike

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has some blogger roundup on the strike and GOP and the City is strike blogging. The Florida Masochist awards the TWU (the union) the Knucklehead of the Day Award. Cake or Death shares his Ruminations On A Transit Strike and has a few pictures of New York City transit workers not-so-hard at work. The Malcontent, like most New Yorkers, didn't have a great commute today. Good luck riding back up Second Avenue!

And I forgot to mention above that another sticking point with the union is pension and retirement. Silly me, its a union!

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