Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


segway stock soars on late news
December 20, 2005 12:51 AM   Subscribe

So it actually happened. Not going anywhere tomorrow? The last time the MTA went on strike in New York was 1980. This time, one would hope there are plans already in place to cope with what will no doubt be an awful morning for millions, though the information seems dated already. Perhaps ths might be a good opportunity to share any tips and information about the situation. [newsfilter, of course]
posted by wakko (314 comments total)

 
good luck tomorrow (well, today), everybody.
posted by wakko at 12:52 AM on December 20, 2005


"Do you hear that Mr Anderson?"
"Uh... no, what?"
"That isn't the sound of inevitability"
posted by -harlequin- at 1:12 AM on December 20, 2005


HA-HA!
posted by well_balanced at 1:23 AM on December 20, 2005


Public transportation strikes are hellish in any situation, let alone one as big as New York. I echo wakko's sentiments -- good luck New Yorkers.
posted by spiderskull at 1:36 AM on December 20, 2005


so far, aside from negotiations working out quickly, there are two other ways the strike could end early: the international transit union, which objected to the strike, could go to federal court in an attempt to take over the local union (the one which struck). or, the mta could go to state court in an attempt to impose fines on the union (which they apparently have just done.)

there's also talk of metro north joining in the strike. which would suck a bunch.
posted by wakko at 1:42 AM on December 20, 2005


It sounds like Tuesday is going to be nightmarish for most New Yorkers. I bet the cabbies will be raking in the dough.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 2:03 AM on December 20, 2005


I was up until 2 AM because of this thrying to figure out whther or not my final would be on or cancelled. Part of me is floored this all went through.

STFU, well_balanced.
posted by piratebowling at 2:15 AM on December 20, 2005


Mijo Bijo, the city has modified the taxi fare structure, so unless riders are particularly giving with their tips, I doubt the taxi drivers will be doing as well as usual. Link.
posted by jba at 2:18 AM on December 20, 2005


jba: $10 within a zone, $5 each additional, with the right to pick up multiple fares. I think they'll do okay.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:21 AM on December 20, 2005


Here's a tip: move
posted by cellphone at 2:22 AM on December 20, 2005


Why does the AP story quote two commuters not sympathetic to the union and none sympathetic?
posted by gramschmidt at 2:25 AM on December 20, 2005


I Love Tacos: yeah, I guess with the multi-fare thing they could do better. Not quite sure how that'd work however. Are they going to stop and pick up more people even if someone is riding already?

Cellphone: Not helpful.
posted by jba at 2:29 AM on December 20, 2005


gramschmidt: possibly because it's hard to find anyone in the city sympathetic to the union? They have a great deal from the MTA right now (highest paid transit workers in the nation), and were offered a compound raise of over ten percent over the next 3 years in a time when the MTA is planning to run masssive budget deficits. Existing benefits are not being cut or even altered, and yet they are willing to hurt the city's most vulnerable (the working poor and middle class) who rely on them to get to work every day because future workers might have to pay a portion of their benefits and retire later like pretty much everyone else in the private sector. It's hard to feel much sympathy for them at the moment.
posted by jba at 2:37 AM on December 20, 2005


jba: They also asked the workers to pay health costs, wanted to kill the pensions and wanted to retroactively jack up the retirement age, all at a time when the MTA is running a billion dollar surplus.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:40 AM on December 20, 2005


To be more accurate, I should've said kill pensions as a benefit to new hires.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:40 AM on December 20, 2005


the wnbc article seems to have changed... best quote that was in it, now taken out:

"We have to get the Coke to the people," Padilla said. "Just because there is a strike, people don't stop drinking coke."

Down with Strikes! drink Coke!
posted by twistedonion at 2:41 AM on December 20, 2005


Oh, and being the highest paid transit workers isn't that impressive. Average wage is 50-something. I wouldn't want to raise a family on that, especially in or around New York.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:41 AM on December 20, 2005


I wanted to start this thread myself just so I could complain about the union. They have the city and state by the short hairs, I hope they all get fired.
posted by mert at 2:44 AM on December 20, 2005


I support strikes. But not ones that are going to make my commute a living hell. Boo on the TWU! Er, I mean, good luck to the little guy. (By which I mean the employees, not the union. Two days pay for every day of striking is a tough fine.)
posted by Plutor at 2:45 AM on December 20, 2005


I must say though, I'll be happy when New York gets DC-style computer controlled subways.

Get rid of pesky health care costs nicely.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:45 AM on December 20, 2005


"Just because there is a strike, people don't stop drinking coke."

twistedonion, I read that and didn't know what to make of it. I've never been to NYC, but doesn't the coke arrive on trucks (of some size or other)? It put this image in my mind of hand trucks full of cases of coke on the subways and buses of NYC.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 2:45 AM on December 20, 2005


I hope they all get fired.

I hope they make your life a misery. People don't strike for a day off, especially when they will get fined 2 days for every day they strike.

America: where little men don't give a shit about other little men, they drink coke instead.
posted by twistedonion at 2:49 AM on December 20, 2005


I Love Tacos: That would only affect new workers, they were not touching the benefits of existing workers. Around the nation businesses are doing all of those things in order to sustain retirement and pension plans. People are living longer than ever, and the old pension plans with retirement ages at 50 or 55 no longer make sense. With that all said, the last proposal to the TWU had no change in the retirement age (per the NYT), and they still rejected it - as far as i can tell, strictly on salary grounds.

With regards to the "billion dollar surplus", it's all gone already. The MTA has been continually financing itself with heavily tail loaded long term debt, much of which begins to come around in the next few years. Next year the MTA deficit will be at least $2.5 billion.
posted by jba at 2:51 AM on December 20, 2005


It's supposed to make your life a living hell. At root, a strike is a reminder of how essential these employees are to the functioning of the city. It sucks for a LOT of people, most of whom are poor.

How it is supposed to work,in theory, is that the inconvenienced people are supposed to put pressure on tto acehe government to accede to the strikers' demands. In addition, other unions can increase the pressure by going on strike too, in support.

Basic services shut down because working people make the city work. Subway workers are essential, and they are on strike because a two-tier pensioning system is being put into place in the attempt to encourage two classes of workers within the union, and to weaken the union over time.

Union strike actions are meant to encourage collective action by others to hasten their resolution.

I am very sorry about all of the people (mostly poor) who are inconvenienced by this.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:51 AM on December 20, 2005


jba: Massive wealth redistribution is necessary in order to stave off the upcoming crisis of a bunch of sick, old Americans. Yay on the TWU for putting the pensions debate front and center.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:53 AM on December 20, 2005


twistedonion, I read that and didn't know what to make of it.

First part of the quote might put it into context:

"Jose Padilla, 34, said he and fellow Coca-Cola employees are meeting at 4 a.m. to come up with a plan to put more workers in trucks to ensure their product gets delivered in the case of a strike."

I think the workers were going in early to make sure those that couldn't get to work wouldn't affect the deliveries of the holy juice.
posted by twistedonion at 2:54 AM on December 20, 2005


supposed to put pressure on the government is of course how that should read.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:55 AM on December 20, 2005


jba: thanks for using bold tags to point out something that I'd already corrected, in a previous post. It did a great job of confirming that you're more interested in spewing your viewpoint than reading or considering any other.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:00 AM on December 20, 2005


For the record, here's a version with the Coke quote.
posted by gramschmidt at 3:04 AM on December 20, 2005


I Love Tacos: Sorry, i missed your update in among a few others that came up on preview. Also, sorry that you feel the need to attack me personally rather than discuss the issue at hand. Good luck to you.
posted by jba at 3:08 AM on December 20, 2005


man channel 4 (nbc) made a guy ride the subway all night till they shut down. now he's stuck in williamsburg. that's mean.
posted by wakko at 3:11 AM on December 20, 2005


I have reservations at a hot restaurant I've been looking forward to for, like, two months tonight. Guess I'll have to cancel.

I'm all for a union's right to strike, but here's to hoping they get a good deal worked out sooner rather than later.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:13 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


If this looks weird now:



...imagine how today's pictures are gonna look in 25 years.
posted by wakko at 3:18 AM on December 20, 2005


wakko: do you have any more about the ITU possibly taking over the TWU? I haven't seen anything (or been able to find anything) about that potential. thx.
posted by jba at 3:19 AM on December 20, 2005


it was on nbc4 earlier this morning. i'll try and dig something up.
posted by wakko at 3:21 AM on December 20, 2005


The only thing I can be thankful for is my new job- I'm now working for an understanding boss in a job I can telecommute, as opposed to my old boss, who I hear is still expecting people to show up to work, even though a lot of them have no way to do so, not to mention that all of our shipments are shut down, plus I think this shut downs UPS/FedEx service in Manhattan, right?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:21 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


A common tactic by anti-union groups and individuals in these cases is to claim that the strikers in question are "among the highest paid transit workers in the country". I can't guarantee that we'll encounter that exact wording tomorrow, but we will hear something approximating that.

What I find interesting is the contempt (almost classist in nature) implicit in such a phrase: "You transit workers do a job that I consider despicable, replaceable, meaningless, throwaway and utterly beneath me, but you're paid more than nothing for doing this job! How can you possibly be dissatisfied! On some scale I haven't identified and by some metric that may or may not be valid to the issues over which you're striking, you're among the highest paid transit workers in the nation! Unionism is terrorism! Up is down!"
posted by gramschmidt at 3:24 AM on December 20, 2005


the daily news has some coverage of the international TWU's opinion (they voted against the strike.) no mention of a possible takeover (nbc only mentioned it as a possibility).
posted by wakko at 3:27 AM on December 20, 2005


jba: get off the cross, we need the wood for the fire.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:27 AM on December 20, 2005


From the NYT: "Earlier yesterday, Mr. Toussaint hinted at some movement in the talks at the Grand Hyatt hotel, saying that 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."

This is the kind of thing that confuses me about the public sector and/or unions (take your pick). Ignoring the fact that 8% non-merit raises seem unjustified when inflation is less than half that, how can the number of disciplinary actions be negotiated in advance? Surely the number of disciplinary actions should correspond to the number of problems that occur in the future? How can it be known how many will occur? In what universe does this kind of demand make sense?
posted by blue mustard at 3:28 AM on December 20, 2005


Also from NYT:
The union's executive board voted 28 to 10, with 5 members abstaining, to start the strike, but Michael T. O'Brien, the president of the Transport Workers Union of America, Local 100's parent union, warned the board that he could not support a strike because he believed the authority's most recent offer represented real progress.
posted by fet at 3:34 AM on December 20, 2005


blue mustard: a crazy universe! This is the crap that makes me not at all sympathetic to unions. I work as a software developer. As such, I have never been offered a pension. I went several years without ANY raises, never mind cost-of-living raises. Yet these guys are complaining about getting a raise that is DOUBLE that of inflation, and trying to negotiate a set-limit on disciplinary actions? What happens when the limit of disciplinary actions is reached? The employees can effectively do jack-shit on the job with no repercussions at all. How the hell does THAT work?
posted by antifuse at 3:36 AM on December 20, 2005


Cool, thanks wakko.
posted by jba at 3:36 AM on December 20, 2005


Biased source, so take it with a grain of salt (particularly the conclusions), but this is an excellent rundown of the fiscal situation of the MTA. Worth a read: How to Save the Subways—Before It’s Too Late
posted by jba at 3:40 AM on December 20, 2005


Any reasonable person could see that there should be an available middle ground here. I've seen no publicly available evidence that either side has made serious concessions towards reaching that middle.

And to the strike haters, like it or not, this is a right of the free market. I support their right to strike and the MTAs right to fire them, and put together funding for computer-controlled trains.

The fact that you make less money than them, or that you don't have a pension is irrelevant.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:41 AM on December 20, 2005


I work as a software developer. As such, I have never been offered a pension. I went several years without ANY raises, never mind cost-of-living raises.

Software Developer - that's a bit different from being a blue collar worker imho. You are probably paid enough to cover your own pension.

I'm also not a member of any union, but more power to them, seriously. You worked several years without raises - that's probably because you don't have a Union. Why bitch about people getting together and trying to make their working conditions as best as possible?
posted by twistedonion at 3:42 AM on December 20, 2005


to be fair, the MTA also wanted to raise the retirement age (first for everyone, then later for new hires only) from 55 to 62. granted, retiring at 62 is still pretty sweet for most people these days, but it could still be seen as a dick move on their part. also it seems as though each side has capitulated somewhat and been willing to compromise already.
posted by wakko at 3:44 AM on December 20, 2005


Yea, but their final offer kept the retirement age at 55, as long as new workers contributed 6% for 10 years to the plan. What more was the TWU looking for that the MTA didn't provide?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:47 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


also it seems as though each side has capitulated somewhat and been willing to compromise already.

I'm not sure I agree. The original positions of the union and the MTA were miles apart, largely because these negotiations always start with the worst possible offer, not the legitimately desired result.

It seems that all they've done so far is to throw away the fake demands, and get deadlocked at the real ones.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:50 AM on December 20, 2005


I'm curious, does anybody have information on previous compensation information for MTA employees?

I've seen reference that some of the bus routes were without contract for 33 months, which strongly implies that at least some employees have gone 3 years without any raises at all.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:53 AM on December 20, 2005



Why bitch about people getting together and trying to make their working conditions as best as possible?

You nailed it earlier, TO:

America: where little men don't give a shit about other little men, they drink coke instead.

Resentment toward the other is something that is cultivated and encouraged in this country. It keeps the Man(tm) in power. I think there are valid points on both sides, and haven't decided for myself yet where my sympathies lie, but it is discouraging that so many would come with over simplified arguments just so they can justify their axe-grinding versus organized labor.

get off the cross, we need the wood for the fire.

We're burning crosses now? Man, this debate is out of hand already.
posted by psmealey at 4:09 AM on December 20, 2005


only some of those that work forces do that.
posted by wakko at 4:16 AM on December 20, 2005


Cellphone: Not helpful.
posted by jba at 4:29 AM CST on December 20 [!]


So what? You guys are acting like this is some fucking disaster, when really you've made the choice to live in a place where public transportation has the city by the balls.
posted by cellphone at 4:19 AM on December 20, 2005


granted, retiring at 62 is still pretty sweet for most people these days

It's a great deal for guys working in office buildings. It's not so great for guys who have to work outdoors in trainyards in the middle of winter and underground in the middle of summer. People would be outraged if they said cops or firemen had to have their retirement age raised by seven years.

I wanted to start this thread myself just so I could complain about the union. They have the city and state by the short hairs, I hope they all get fired.

Part of me hopes they do too just so New York will be crippled for years waiting to train 30,000 new workers to meet federal regulations because it was necessary to give you a moment of smug satisfaction, you fucking idiot.

I must say though, I'll be happy when New York gets DC-style computer controlled subways. Get rid of pesky health care costs nicely.

I actually live in DC, and every train I've ridden on has a human operator. Not to mention humans at the booth. And humans running security. And unless you expect either robots or genetically-modified monkeys to be repairing the trains anytime soon, I'm gonna take a wild guess and say humans repair the trains in DC too. If you seriously think A. something like that will come anytime soon, or B. no train operators means no human Metro workforce, you have a very vague understanding of infrastructure.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:20 AM on December 20, 2005


Yea, but their final offer kept the retirement age at 55, as long as new workers contributed 6% for 10 years to the plan. What more was the TWU looking for that the MTA didn't provide?

A guaranteed pay raise of 3% for three years combined with a guaranteed pay cut of 6% for ten? And you'd take that?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:23 AM on December 20, 2005


You guys are acting like this is some fucking disaster, when really you've made the choice to live in a place where public transportation has the city by the balls.

Wow what a myopic point of view.
posted by wakko at 4:24 AM on December 20, 2005


This is pretty interesting. It features profiteers, creeps, and a whole slew of nice people.

The generousity of some people is only due to the fact you need 4 people in a vehicle to get over a bridge into Manhattan.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 4:24 AM on December 20, 2005


I have never been offered a pension. I went several years without ANY raises, never mind cost-of-living raises.

Sounds like you should consider joining a union. You can light a candle, or sit in the dark and criticize those who are doing something to improve their own situation.
posted by grouse at 4:36 AM on December 20, 2005


You know what's fun about New York? The abject chaos. Day-to-day, the city hangs by the thinnest of threads, and every night I go to sleep thinking, "Holy shit, New York made it through another day." Then shit like this happens and you get to set up a lawn chair and watch the fireworks. Fun.
posted by ChasFile at 4:45 AM on December 20, 2005


Well, this means I get to work from home today when I normally wouldn't, so that's nice. But yeah, it's going to be madness in the city until this is over. And somehow we have to get the family and the Christmas presents to Newark on Thursday... I'm trying not to think about that too hard right now.

I cannot believe that it is illegal for transit workers to strike in NYC, by the way. Jesus Christ, what century is this? I support them for that reason alone, never mind the admittedly two-sided ins-and-outs of their actual reasons for striking. Any capitalist motherfucker tells me it's not legal for me to strike and I'm OUT, brothers, OUT.
posted by Decani at 4:46 AM on December 20, 2005


I have never been offered a pension. I went several years without ANY raises, never mind cost-of-living raises.

It always saddens me how often I hear this pathetic sort of mantra in the US - usually following criticism of people who actually have the balls to fight for such things. Oh wait, that's commie talk, right? And we don't do that in America. We just take lousy holiday allowances along with the exploitative shit from management, and then brag about how many hours of unpaid overtime we worked last week.

Sad.
posted by Decani at 4:49 AM on December 20, 2005


Nobody strikes for the hell of it. A favorite tactic of mgt is to force a bullshit issue and refuse to negotiate. Most workers won't strike if they are on the thin end of things to start with. So the upshot is mgt can screw the workers or break the union by forcing them into a strike. A sure sign of this tactic is mgt accusing the workers of planning a strike early in negotiations.
posted by warbaby at 4:55 AM on December 20, 2005


Cellphone, when the armageddon comes to this country and we finally run out of oil, I'm gonna leisurely strolling through my ped-friendly neighborhood in the city and I'll be LAUGHING MY FREAKING ASS OFF, thinking of you, starving and vehicleless in your forgotten Minnesotan hovel. No one likes you, dyhot Junior.

In the meantime, if any of you other nice people could be harness the power of the internet to find out whether the Roosevelt Island Tram is permitting bicycles on it, I'd be EVER SO GRATEFUL. Local media has been fairly abject at actual practical useful info like this, and I have to hit the streets. Thanks!
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:56 AM on December 20, 2005


DenOfSizer - give the Tram Hotline a call? (212) 832-4555. Given that they're running a "rush hour schedule", they might allow it but you'll probably get cursed out by your fellow trammers - and my impression is that a lot of people crashed on RI last night to grab the tram.
posted by Remy at 5:01 AM on December 20, 2005


Thanks, Remy. Hotline's most unspecific on this point but yours is the kind of info I'm looking for!
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:05 AM on December 20, 2005



So what? You guys are acting like this is some fucking disaster, when really you've made the choice to live in a place where public transportation has the city by the balls.


You know what? Fuck you. At least New Yorkers aren't all individually clogging the 405 freeway with dipshit SUVs and choking on their own exhaust. What world do you live in? One where everyone bikes to work through streets covered with sleet and ice?
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 5:05 AM on December 20, 2005


It's hard to take the MTA's financial self-assessment seriously. The last time they managed to lobby for a raise in fare prices, it was later found out that they had hidden hundreds of millions of dollars in cash assets from their balance sheet in order to be able to plead poverty.

The MTA is reaping what it sowed. cf. "The boy who cried wolf."
posted by clevershark at 5:12 AM on December 20, 2005


So what? You guys are acting like this is some fucking disaster, when really you've made the choice to live in a place where public transportation has the city by the balls.

I'm sure people will remember to point and laugh at cellphone when gas starts hitting the 4 to 5 dollar a gallon range.
posted by clevershark at 5:13 AM on December 20, 2005


That would only affect new workers, they were not touching the benefits of existing workers.

Back in '92 my entering cohort was hired on a shittier contract than the existing employees, and they went on strike for what I thought at the time was "for us".

Later, with more experience to how the world actually works, I realized they were striking more for them, since the existence of cheaper employees in the company means the people getting a better deal will soon experience a pressure gradient from management to leave the company... shittier schedules, etc.

Around the nation businesses are doing all of those things in order to sustain retirement and pension plans. People are living longer than ever

not ~that~ significantly. According to SS, the life expectancy at age 65 has risen from 12.7 more years to 15.3 more years, 1940 to 1990:

1940 12.7
1950 13.1
1960 13.2
1970 13.8
1980 14.6
1990 15.3
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:15 AM on December 20, 2005


yay. i get to work from home today.
posted by Stynxno at 5:18 AM on December 20, 2005


Heywood, both are good points. I suppose the latter is more the baby boomer effect (a large portion of the work force retiring at once) than the longer life expectancy.
posted by jba at 5:22 AM on December 20, 2005


Hopefully, they'll wrap it up in a couple of days. Since I live in Queens and work in lower Manhattan (and have no car or coworkers with a car in the area), I'm stranded today. I look at it as an unplanned day off, and like I said, hopefully it won't last long. The Mrs. got a ride to the Bronx from a co-worker.

I'm sympathetic to most of the Transit Workers demands, since I'v done some labor organizing myself, but I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a major pain in the butt. Negotiate something will you?
posted by jonmc at 5:26 AM on December 20, 2005


Why bitch about people getting together and trying to make their working conditions as best as possible?

In general there is very little bitching about people improving their working conditions, until the time that said people decide to walk out and use their customers as leverage against their bosses. At that point, I think it's normal for the customers (as well as bystanders and nattering nabobs) to jump on a pedestal and bitch a bit.

I can understand why those without health insurance or pensions who are stranded without work today might wonder in a bitchy kind of way why they are being forced to sacrifice so that transit workers can ignore increases in health care and pension costs. As for everyone else, who may not be stranded, maybe they're bitching to stick up for those little guys who are stranded because of an extortionate, illegal strike. Or maybe they're bitchy taxpayers who are afraid of being forced to pick up the tab if the transit system goes bust in ten years (just like we're now picking up the tab for the benefits won by unions in the steel, airline, and automotive industries...). Or maybe they just like to bitch.
posted by blue mustard at 5:27 AM on December 20, 2005


Heywood Mogroot : "Later, with more experience to how the world actually works, I realized they were striking more for them, since the existence of cheaper employees in the company means the people getting a better deal will soon experience a pressure gradient from management to leave the company"

Should it be that they were striking for both you and them? Obviously they weren't doing it for you personally, as they probably didn't even know you (as you were a new employee). But it looks like they were clearly fighting for the overall quality of the job itself, not necessarily for any particular person.
posted by nkyad at 5:29 AM on December 20, 2005


I actually live in DC, and every train ...

My understanding was that the operators on DC Metro trains don't actually operate the train, but rather just open/close doors, and call out stops.

I'm not suggesting that an entire subway system will magically run itself, but if we can arrange a future system with fewer (not zero) humans involved, we can also afford to pay those people a decent wage.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:30 AM on December 20, 2005


Well, I just walked the 30 blocks to school carrying my luggage.

Not a free cab in sight.

I actually was offered a ride by some friendly strangers, however they were going the other way.

I hope the traffic clears up by lunch, I got to get to LaGuardia somehow...
posted by toftflin at 5:41 AM on December 20, 2005


I Love Tacos, didn't they already try to get rid of all the people working in ticket booths/stations and everyone freaked out and demanded they be brought back?
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:43 AM on December 20, 2005


I feel your pain, toftflin. My final was cancelled, but I still have to make it to JFK (from Astoria) today.
posted by piratebowling at 5:43 AM on December 20, 2005


Good for them! The MTA had ridiculous demands, were caught with 2 sets of books in 02, had enough for Holiday Discounts, and are running a giant surplus. Now that it's actually happened, they'll be forced to get real and negotiate in earnest.

And considering that the MTA envisions totally humanless trains, a totally humanless purchasing situation (no token clerks and only machines), I'm glad the union took a stand--it's way past time.

And complaining about your own work situation does not in any way make it wrong for the union workers to take action. When it comes to work and bosses and wages and benefits, strength comes from collective power, so you can get a better deal. People should be taking a lesson from the subway workers.
posted by amberglow at 5:48 AM on December 20, 2005


And complaining about your own work situation does not in any way make it wrong for the union workers to take action

Agreed. But we still gotta air our frustrations.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 AM on December 20, 2005


(oh, per the title, i actually saw someone using a segway up 10th ave yesterday morning--the first time in ages i've seen one here)
posted by amberglow at 5:50 AM on December 20, 2005


Yeah that MTA suplus should definitely be poured into the coffers of the striking workers instead of building the god damn 2nd Ave line and the 7 extension.

Ugh.
posted by fet at 5:53 AM on December 20, 2005


This is the crap that makes me not at all sympathetic to unions. I work as a software developer. As such, I have never been offered a pension. I went several years without ANY raises...

Then why don't you organize? Really. If unionized workers have it so good, why not organize a white-collar union where you work?

I love public transport and I support the workers, but I do wish there were better competiton built into the system to help drive system improvements. If it's possible with telephones, it's possible with buses and trains and subways and taxis.

Bus companies could collectively (with the city) work out a single route system and then bid to get the rights to service slots in that route system. There could be two or three or more bus companies running over the same streets offering different levels of service (maybe nicer buses on one system, cheaper fares on another, armed guards on another) but all using the same fare card and making the same stops. And labor (dis)agreements could be worked out per company.
posted by pracowity at 5:56 AM on December 20, 2005


I Love Tacos: people *hate* public transport without guards or ticket office staff or whatever. They see them as giving them a sense of security, and as a source of advice.

Two British examples, but I'm sure the same applies in the US: (1) a report on the unpopularity of unstaffed railway stations; and (2) the furore in south-east England about plans to reduce opening hours (not close) ticket offices at some smaller stations.
posted by athenian at 6:01 AM on December 20, 2005


Here's a tip: move
posted by cellphone


No.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:02 AM on December 20, 2005


I was listening to the radio this morning, thinking I can take my time because today I work from the other side of the room, a walking commute for me, and an interview with Ed Koch comes on. He's blathering on and displaying a repulsive amount of venom as he says "you have CRUSH them" he repeats the word "crush" and goes on about making them (the transit workers) feel pain. And I sit here just wondering WTF? Are we moving more and more to a country where we work more, have cost of living jump, have work benefits trimmed, government benefits cut back, and we are still supposed to sympathize with the people at the top so much that we want to crush people? Fuck you, Koch.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 6:02 AM on December 20, 2005


Does anyone know how easy/hard it is to get a cab this morning? I'm wondering if I should just bundle up and ride my bike.
posted by splatta at 6:03 AM on December 20, 2005


pracowity: our streets are crowded enough--adding multiple buses competing on the same routes as existing ones would create permanent gridlock.

Koch was a giant ass during the last strike (it was during his time in office).

(sidenote: the trend of women wearing sneakers with suits to work started during our last strike in 80)
posted by amberglow at 6:05 AM on December 20, 2005


splatta, check out craigslist.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 6:06 AM on December 20, 2005


Cellphone, here's a tip:

Go fuck yourself. Hard.
posted by fungible at 6:06 AM on December 20, 2005


kingfisher, Koch was mayor during the last transit strike, so I imagine he still has some leftover issues, since he probably had the transit workers coming at him from one direction and the commuters from the other. I imagine that would make a men somewhat testy. Not that he right or anything, but besides he's not mayor anymore.

Also, wouldn't it have been a smarter move to do this before the election? Bloomie and co. would've been scrambling to meet their demands just to avoid the bad publicity.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 AM on December 20, 2005


BTW, I would love to see some smart answers to my related askmetafilter thread: does the strike really cost the city $400 million a day. Is this a violation of some rule? Oh well. I don't know economics, think this is fishy, and would love some solid thought on this.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 6:08 AM on December 20, 2005


I was listening to the radio this morning, thinking I can take my time because today I work from the other side of the room, a walking commute for me, and an interview with Ed Koch comes on. He's blathering on and displaying a repulsive amount of venom as he says "you have CRUSH them" he repeats the word "crush" and goes on about making them (the transit workers) feel pain. And I sit here just wondering WTF? Are we moving more and more to a country where we work more, have cost of living jump, have work benefits trimmed, government benefits cut back, and we are still supposed to sympathize with the people at the top so much that we want to crush people? Fuck you, Koch.

Actually this has been a curiosity for me: can any local New Yorkers tell me if they actually know the exact moment Ed Koch completely lost his mind? He seemed okay in 1999 or so when I first started going to NYU; by the time I left, his marbles were inarguably absent.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:09 AM on December 20, 2005


He may be getting a mite zedraddled, I think. He's gotta be pushing 80. But, indeed, back when I was young, even when I disagreed with him, he still seemed to be of this earth.
posted by jonmc at 6:11 AM on December 20, 2005


does the strike really cost the city $400 million a day

I find it interesting that the anti-union rants enjoy going back and forth over who they're pretending to defend. In one breath this is a strike that's killing business, ruining productivity, costing millions, etc. And then five minutes later the same guys are mentioning how white-collar folks are just able to work from home, and it's the poor minorities who are getting screwed.

The demagoguery from the right-wing media in New York is abhorrent. It's the most glaring sign that the MTA and Bloomberg started prepping to launch a PR war long before they decided to offer a fair contract.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:12 AM on December 20, 2005


I think it was after he played Grampa on the Munsters.
posted by splatta at 6:12 AM on December 20, 2005


*applause*
posted by jonmc at 6:12 AM on December 20, 2005


It's a bit of a giggle seeing that so many seem to think that the strike is aimed at everything and all but the strikers' conditions:

-How am I going to get to MY job today?
-How will I transport MY things from A to B?
-How could YOU do this to ME?


And the biggest giggle is how those questions answer themselves so well.
posted by psychomedia at 6:14 AM on December 20, 2005


I think it was after he played Grampa on the Munsters.

Wrong politician.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 6:14 AM on December 20, 2005


And then five minutes later the same guys are mentioning how white-collar folks are just able to work from home, and it's the poor minorities who are getting screwed.

Well, as a database clerk, I'm technically "white-collar," (although I make shit, by NYC standards), but I work with actual physical products for my data, so I can't work from home, and my office is roughly 50% non-white.

Just to monkeywrench that theory.
posted by jonmc at 6:15 AM on December 20, 2005


Also, wouldn't it have been a smarter move to do this before the election? Bloomie and co. would've been scrambling to meet their demands just to avoid the bad publicity.

The contract just expired last Thursday night.
posted by Remy at 6:15 AM on December 20, 2005


Fuck pensions. Aren't they the reason why every major american company from airlines to auto manufacturers are having to fire thousands of workers now?

I don't get a pension. I have to get an IRA like everyone else. If I don't save enough money for when I'm an old geezer, that's my own dumb fault.

Healthcare, on the other hand is a different matter. That, IMHO, should be paid for by the government. Healthcare costs are another reason why the big companies are having to fire people in the thousands.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:16 AM on December 20, 2005


psychomedia: no offense, but gimme a fucking break. We have to live here, we're entitled to care about how the strike affects our lives.

And the biggest giggle is how those questions answer themselves so well.

Well, if you consider a long-assed walk from Northern Astoria all the way to the Holland Tunnel in the freezing cold, an easy answer, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by jonmc at 6:17 AM on December 20, 2005


They have the city and state by the short hairs, I hope they all get fired. - mert

Because then your transit system would be entirely without qualified and experienced people. So having hundreds of brand new people running the joint would certainly make the system more effecient and pleasant for you! Ugh. What an incredibly selfish and short sighted statement.

if we can arrange a future system with fewer (not zero) humans involved, we can also afford to pay those people a decent wage. - I Love Tacos

But then thier jobs will be less skilled, and people will be up in arms that those no-brainer jobs are too well paid.
posted by raedyn at 6:18 AM on December 20, 2005


Just to monkeywrench that theory.

I'm addressing the rhetoric, not the practicality. Everyone knows regardless of what's being said the strike is crippling New York's work force, white- and blue-collar. That's the point of the strike. My point is the Daily News and others are desperate to play each side against the other and get both to blame the TWU.

I'm amazed how many New Yorkers are turning to the paper that locked out its own workers in a strike as the source of unbiased information.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:18 AM on December 20, 2005


The contract just expired last Thursday night.

Still, wouldn't it have been smart, strategically speaking, to have made a lot of noise during the election, that the candidates would've had to address to avoid looking bad and losing votes?
posted by jonmc at 6:19 AM on December 20, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: According to SS, the life expectancy at age 65 has risen from 12.7 more years to 15.3 more years, 1940 to 1990.

You're overlooking a rather important point: It's true that life expectancy at 65 has "only" gone up by 25% (which is actually pretty significant from an economic standpoint) but a lot fewer people lived to 65 in the first place until relatively recently. You have to look at life expectancy at 18 or so, not life expectancy at 65.
posted by Justinian at 6:19 AM on December 20, 2005


"The idea that a motorman has to scramble to find a place to urinate on a busy day is not something most of us face on the job."
posted by amberglow at 6:20 AM on December 20, 2005


My point is the Daily News and others are desperate to play each side against the other and get both to blame the TWU.

True enough. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit irked at both the TWU and the MTA. But I'll stipulate that's mainly because of the aggravation they're causing me.
posted by jonmc at 6:21 AM on December 20, 2005


XQUZYPHYR: You have to admit Toussaint's rhetoric was pretty inflammatory, though... it never sounded like TWU was going to make a deal.
posted by fet at 6:21 AM on December 20, 2005


"The idea that a motorman has to scramble to find a place to urinate on a busy day is not something most of us face on the job."

He's never worked in a factory or at a machine, where you're pretty much stuck standing on one leg until a relief worker comes for your break. Eventually your body trains itself, oddly. I speak from experience. Not that it negates the workers complaints, just illustrating that it happens elsewhere, too.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 AM on December 20, 2005


adding multiple buses competing on the same routes as existing ones would create permanent gridlock.

Adding multiple buses competing on the same routes AND taking 10 or 20 cars out of the system (by pricing them out of it) for every bus added would prevent that from happening and speed everything up.
posted by pracowity at 6:24 AM on December 20, 2005


Go PATH train! Yay!
posted by adampsyche at 6:24 AM on December 20, 2005


You can include me among the ranks of lefties who bemoan the loss of power and influence of unions in this country, but that doesn't change the fact that this strike is bullshit. The transit workers, who are essentially unskilled, make more money and have better pensions than many of the nurses where I work, many of whom were mandated this morning after working all night. A starting train conductor makes double the salary of a starting police officer--$52,000 before overtime. I have very little sympathy for this strike. I think it's time to consider automating the trains to the extent that it's technologically possible to prevent this sort of civic disaster in the future.
posted by mert at 6:27 AM on December 20, 2005


Actually, I Love Tacos is right, XQUZYPHYR. One of the three train lines here in Lyon (France) is computer controlled, although humans still watch it. MTA security should be paid for by taxes, i.e. cops. Repair & maintenance should be most of the operating expenses, with operations being important, smart, & highly paid, but lightly staffed.

Humans should be replaced by machines at every opportunity. You inevitably face a choice between exploiting workers & exploiting consumers.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:30 AM on December 20, 2005


Fuck pensions. Aren't they the reason why every major american company from airlines to auto manufacturers are having to fire thousands of workers now?

No. Mismanagement and a form of legalized embezzlement of the pensions by auto manufacturers and airlines are why those companies are having to fire thousands of workers now.

Look, the career span of a manual laborer is relatively short compared to a white-collar job. Now, a manual laborer can be worked until he's no longer useful and thrown away once he hits 50 or so, or the employer can set up a system where said laborer is assured of a modest pension after working there for almost 35 years.

And in a year where the public is getting excited about how they can all get a piece of the MTA's $1 billion surplus, and the mayor happily encouraged this idea as an election-year giveaway, I don't seem to have a problem with the unions trying to get a better deal from the MTA, as well.
posted by deanc at 6:31 AM on December 20, 2005


jeffburdges:Humans should be replaced by machines at every opportunity.

*replaces jeffburdges with an obtuse-commenting-machine*
posted by jonmc at 6:32 AM on December 20, 2005


mert, you have a point, but I wonder if it's more accurate to say that the payrate of cops and nurses is bullshit. Relatively transit employees are doing well, and maybe it is because they have a strong union and are willing to strike.
I am divided on this -- the strike will harm people, and I am not comfortable with that, but I am less comfortable with a country that thinks judges economic well-being by the stock market than it does by wages earned, hours worked, health care, and retirement benefits. Our priorities got screwed up some time back.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 6:34 AM on December 20, 2005


johnmc:

Of course it's a bitch. I'm not saying a strike affecting public transportation, as in this case, is something you happily cheer on when it hits you. Plain and simple - it's a bitch.

However, with a just the slightest of consideration of your fellow man, you'll probably see the misfortune forcing his action in the first place, which ought to leave room for a bit of understanding. Let's not forget, you might be walking his shoes one day. And well, if you don't see it, if all you do see is your own needs and requirements in life, well then why, at all, should anyone give a flying circus how you are affected - make your own way.

That was my point.

Besides that, I do feel for you having to make that walk. And let's hope they've settled the issue soon enough.
posted by psychomedia at 6:35 AM on December 20, 2005


I wish the strikers well, but just being selfish for a second: do any NYers know how easy/impossible it is to get a cab? I am in Philly and MUST return to NYC tonight or tomorrow (at the latest). I'll be returning via Amtrak and arriving in Penn Station. From there, I must somehow get to Brooklyn -- which is why I'm asking about cabs.

I would consider walking across the bridge, but I have really heavy bags with me. And it's cold.
posted by grumblebee at 6:37 AM on December 20, 2005


However, with a just the slightest of consideration of your fellow man, you'll probably see the misfortune forcing his action in the first place, which ought to leave room for a bit of understanding.

I'm considerate for my fellow man. I'm considerate for my bus driver last night, who sounded terrified at the prospect of having to go on strike, because he just bought a house. But he didn't get to decide for himself, did he- the board of directors of his union in a room far from him made that decision for him. Channel 2 (CBS) was just talking about what was going on in the room when the TWU Local turned down the latest deal with the MTA- apparently the national union couldn't believe they did it, and it was a huge fight with lots of politics and what not. That's what this stupid thing is- it's all politics. And we're all, transit workers and commuters alike, getting screwed.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:39 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Humans should be replaced by machines at every opportunity. You inevitably face a choice between exploiting workers & exploiting consumers.

And, um, by the way. . . been wondering when we start reaping the benefits of technology and start working less. Not more.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 6:39 AM on December 20, 2005


Besides that, I do feel for you having to make that walk.

Whatta you kidding me? I took the day off. I'll lose a days pay, but better that than being sick and exhausted. And as I said earlier, I sympathize with the workers. But it affects my life badly, so I still reserve the right to bitch about it. And maybe if we all bitch enough both sides will get their asses back to the negotiating table.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 AM on December 20, 2005


Fuck pensions. Aren't they the reason why every major american company from airlines to auto manufacturers are having to fire thousands of workers now?

Afroblanco. When properly applied, pensions take care of themselves. The two industries you mentioned are well known for mismanagement and their ability to completely ignore global trends, lots of other places still have pensions and do just fine.
posted by furtive at 6:42 AM on December 20, 2005


I think it's time to consider automating the trains to the extent that it's technologically possible to prevent this sort of civic disaster in the future.

Sure. We'll have that for you by Wednesday. Wednesday good?

Okay, once again: there are 33,000 TWU workers. They don't all drive trains. There are engineers who have to repair them, inspectors who check them, technicians who maintain them (all of whom are, by the way, trained and certified, but please continue to not know what you're talking about with the "unskilled labor" stuff), and support staff who clean them and the tracks. There's also that slightly insignficant matter of the several hundred busses that won't be human-free any time soon.

Enjoy your "eat it unions!" fantasy of all-robot subways, but even when that happens there will still be a thousands-large workforce who require, and deserve, a fair contract. Calling the employees of the TWU "useless" when your complaining in this thread proves just how necessary they are right now only dulls your rhetoric.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:42 AM on December 20, 2005


The transit workers, who are essentially unskilled, make more money and have better pensions than many of the nurses where I work

I'm with King Fisher. What you're basically saying is that because nurses and policemen are making shit, so should the MTA workers and in fact maybe I'm making too much then. Maybe instead we should take better care of our nurses and cops.

But I do know that the MTA does have a lot of fat they can cut out. But I can say that for a lot of gov't run companies.
posted by pez_LPhiE at 6:44 AM on December 20, 2005


Afroblanco writes "Healthcare, on the other hand is a different matter. That, IMHO, should be paid for by the government. Healthcare costs are another reason why the big companies are having to fire people in the thousands."

Yes, if we had single-payer healthcare then we wouldn't have that come up all the time in contract negotiations, and it would even help poor software developers who are too lazy to organize for themselves and so instead criticize those with the guts to risk losing their job to fight for equity. But, Afroblanco, just because you don't get a pension doesn't mean you shouldn't, and, as you pointed out, pensions and healthcare are linked and if the USA provided the one (as it should), companies could provide the other.
posted by OmieWise at 6:44 AM on December 20, 2005


Nobody strikes for the hell of it.

Well- pride and emotion are strong factors for stupid actions in any negotiation, so the hell of it probably is a factor, and possibly a large one. That's one reason why democracies support wars. And the union has turned down offers of binding arbitration, no? (Is there a good reason for that? Don't know, genuinely wondering. I have no dog in this fight.)

According to SS, the life expectancy at age 65 has risen from 12.7 more years to 15.3 more years, 1940 to 1990.

Ditto Justinian. Moreover, with respect, but as a general rule, I don't entirely trust government statistics,
posted by IndigoJones at 6:44 AM on December 20, 2005


in addition to my comment on pensions, I will add this:

I think that we should keep social security. Gutting social security in the way that the Bush Administration wants to do will only create more pressure on Americans' failing pensions, a good portion of which are due to be crammed-down anyway.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:44 AM on December 20, 2005


You're overlooking a rather important point: It's true that life expectancy at 65 has "only" gone up by 25% (which is actually pretty significant from an economic standpoint)

Since 1960, retirement spans are apparently increasing .06 years per year. Since the payouts are at the back-end of 30-40 years of compounding interest, I don't think this is that significant.

eg. the 25yo hiree now will apparently have a 30x0.06 = 2 year longer retirement in 2035 than people retiring this year.

but a lot fewer people lived to 65 in the first place until relatively recently. You have to look at life expectancy at 18 or so, not life expectancy at 65.

disagree. We need to look at life expectancy from the pension age. 65 is a lot closer than 18.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2005


A starting train conductor makes double the salary of a starting police officer--$52,000 before overtime.

Do you mean a starting police officer nationwide, or in NYC? If that's the starting salary for the NYPD, then this strike is absolutely disgusting.
posted by gsteff at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2005


I think the union would have more support if they waged their strike in the spring. In the winter, during the holidays, yikes -- why union why?

I hate to state it, but you sort of got to wish that unions had something other to bargain with other than strikes.
posted by narebuc at 6:48 AM on December 20, 2005


And OmieWise:

It's not that I think people don't deserve a pension. It's just that the system doesn't work. Any system that requires companies to lay off people in the thousands to pay impractical benifits to past workers is doomed to fail. When you start firing employees and have to shrink your business, how are you going to continue to pay for those pensions? Seems like a vicious cycle to me.

Besides, if you read my slate link, you'll see that the American pension system is more-or-less insolvent anyway.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:48 AM on December 20, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "disagree. We need to look at life expectancy from the pension age. 65 is a lot closer than 18."

You're both right, but for different reasons. Life expectancy has not risen, survival to age 5 has risen. In other words, people who made it to 65 are as likely to live to 80 as they ever were, but now more people are living to 65 and therefore the overall numbers (the averages) make it look like life expectancy has risen. This means that the relevant number is really survival to age 5, not life expectancy past 65.

On the other hand, the baby boomers are entering this age bracket, and so the population of people in retirement is growing hugely. So, what matters is the number of people retiring, and how long they will be retired.
posted by OmieWise at 6:50 AM on December 20, 2005


narebuc, are you kidding? If then went on string in Spring or Summer, NO ONE would give a shit. They do it in winter (specifically right before the holidays) for a REASON. It reminds me ofa woman on the TV last night bitching that they should have waited until after New Years to strike. There is a strategy behind all this and it is strike when people are most dependant on your service, so that you can gain the most attention, and hopefully, get those people to put pressure on the MTA.
posted by piratebowling at 6:52 AM on December 20, 2005


grumblebee: it looks like you should be able to grab a cab at penn station tonight. The wait might be long (right now they are saying 1 hour), but hopefully that will get better towards the evening.
posted by jba at 6:54 AM on December 20, 2005


grumblebee: I'll be returning via Amtrak and arriving in Penn Station. From there, I must somehow get to Brooklyn

The LIRR is still running. You can take it from Penn Station to Jamaica (Queens) and from there to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn (corner of Atlantic Ave.—basically, the northwest corner of Park Slope). Both run pretty often, and each leg is about 20 minutes. Not sure if that's anywhere near where you need to be in Brooklyn, though.
posted by staggernation at 6:55 AM on December 20, 2005


Dude. I walked today instead of getting the F (25 blocks or so) and MAN IT'S DAMN COLD.
posted by ny_scotsman at 6:55 AM on December 20, 2005


Dude. I walked today instead of getting the F (25 blocks or so) and MAN IT'S DAMN COLD.

Unless you're over 62, no bitching. So says the MTA.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:58 AM on December 20, 2005


I'm riding my bike. I just went outside, got in a cab on 116th, and got laughed at by the cabbie. I got out, and I'm getting the bike out.
posted by splatta at 6:59 AM on December 20, 2005


been wondering when we start reaping the benefits of technology and start working less

look to where your income goes. Housing, right? We are all competing for quality living space, the one thing robots can't create (yet), and the one thing our present system (at least in the US & UK) is doing a pretty piss-poor job of maximizing.

It's a fact of economics that housing costs will suck any surplus out of any free market system, since ~90% of the market would like to move to a higher-quality home (newer/nicer fixtures, larger, better schools, shorter commute, etc) and supply at any given time is fixed, and the quality of one's abode is quite simply the determining factor of one's entire quality of life (modulo personal health issues I guess).

Seeing this dynamic work its wonders in the SF bay area 1975-now has opened my eyes. We are all so super productive in the bay area, but most of this bounty is just going into crazy land valuations and landlord's pockets.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:02 AM on December 20, 2005


Outer-Borough Commuters: I'd bet there are livery vans running many of the bus routes in Brooklyn and Queens today. They already go many routes in non-strike circumstances. Big one in Brooklyn is down Flatbush to King's Plaza - the B41. They're all over Jamaica. May not help get you to Manhattan, but can help get you to the LIRR

Pracowity: Privatization is well in effect for many bus routes.
posted by Marnie at 7:05 AM on December 20, 2005


Thanks for the suggestions. I'll have to make a decision between the LIRR route, which will drop me about an hour's walk from home (with my heavy bags) and the waiting-for-a-cab route. The cab sounds better, assuming I can convince a driver to take me to Brooklyn. My guess is that they'd rather make short runs in Manhattan, because they'll be able to make more money that way.
posted by grumblebee at 7:05 AM on December 20, 2005


FYI, a few links concerning Roger Toussaint. Also some (slightly backdated) words from the Revolutionary Transit Worker, a bulletin for TWU Local 100 supported by the League for the Revolutionary Party, replete with Marxist jargon. Sounds almost quaint.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:08 AM on December 20, 2005


Fuck pensions. Aren't they the reason why every major american company from airlines to auto manufacturers are having to fire thousands of workers now?

Lame excuse. they are simply managed badly. Don't blame the workers for managements errors (greed).
posted by twistedonion at 7:11 AM on December 20, 2005


Afroblanco: with regards pensions you do realise that the workers pay into the pension plan over the course of their employment and that the payout is supposed to be what they invested in the plan plus whatever gains were made by the folks managing the pension plan (by investing that large pool of money).

The problems start when companies start dipping into that oh so tempting big pile of money and are then unable to pay it back.
posted by zeoslap at 7:14 AM on December 20, 2005


they only have the realistic option of striking when their contracts are up for renegotiation, which is now, not in the spring.

The transit workers, who are essentially unskilled,
Are you crazy? They're almost entirely skilled workers, doing very specialized work. Repairing tracks, and trains and buses, signals and systems, etc, for a gigantic, very spread-out, and often ancient infrastructure. Many of them work outside too--even in this weather. Most workers, and the work they do, are not visible to the public at all.
posted by amberglow at 7:15 AM on December 20, 2005


So, what matters is the number of people retiring, and how long they will be retired.

Not when talking about pension costs. Hopefully/ideally these would be self-funded and not a ponzi scheme. My point is that given the +0.6 years/decade pattern, entering employees should expect << 1% increase/yr in pension contributions, since ~1% compounded at 5% over 20-30 years will be sufficient to cover the expected longer retirement period.

Doing some hackery in excel I see that raising annual contributions .5% yields an extra .1 year of retirement pension ($6000/yr contribution over 30 years, 5% compounding interest, $40k/yr pension).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:19 AM on December 20, 2005


...To our riders, we ask for your understanding forbearance. We stood with you to keep token booths open, to keep conductors on the train and oppose fare hikes. We now ask that you stand with us. We did not want a strike. Evidently the MTA, governor and the Mayor did.

We call on all good will New Yorkers, the Labor Community, and all working people to recognize that our fight is their fight, and to rally in our support with solidarity activities and events. And to show the MTA that TWU does not stand alone. ...
--TWU
posted by amberglow at 7:19 AM on December 20, 2005


where's fixedgear???
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:19 AM on December 20, 2005


Heywood, the MTA is reducing the workforce tho--how does a smaller pool of people paying into pension funds affect the figures?
posted by amberglow at 7:20 AM on December 20, 2005


Here in Philly we had to deal with a transit strike a few months ago, but luckily for us the public transit company here has been dive-bombing itself into irrelevancy for decades now. The public reaction to the strike was largely a giant collective shrug as people climbed into their cars, drove to work, and maybe discovered that they liked this better than dank train stations and late buses. I would say that SEPTA shot itself in the foot again, but most people only have two feet to shoot.

So be thankful that you live in a place where public transit is so vitally important that to have it shut down is unthinkable. Here it's something of an afterthought.
posted by deafmute at 7:21 AM on December 20, 2005


Walked this morning from Astoria down to around 14th and 9th Av. Yeah, it was pretty cold, but the walk was actually quite nice. The light on Manhattan while walking over the Queensboro bridge was quite lovely, and Soterios Johnson kept me company obsessing over the traffic at 96th St.

And - hey - it wasn't raining like it would have been on Friday.
posted by icosahedral at 7:28 AM on December 20, 2005


How long did it take you, icosahedral?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:36 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


twistedonion and zeoslap: true and true. (Although, twistedonion, who ever said that I was blaming the employees?)

I still don't get why pensions are a good idea. Doesn't it make more sense to have an IRA or 401K and have the employees manage their own assets? Then you remove the opportunity for corperate greed to rear its ugly head.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:43 AM on December 20, 2005


This debate is one of the positive side benefits of the strike, by the way.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:45 AM on December 20, 2005


The city's ferry information is wrong -- NY Water Taxi (apparently the only ferry between Queens and Manhattan) is not going to Pier 11 (Wall Street) from Hunter's Point. It only goes to 34th Street from there. So my plans are screwed.
posted by gubo at 7:47 AM on December 20, 2005


DenOfSizer: “when the armageddon comes to this country and we finally run out of oil, I'm gonna leisurely strolling through my ped-friendly neighborhood in the city and I'll be LAUGHING MY FREAKING ASS OFF, thinking of you, starving and vehicleless in your forgotten Minnesotan hovel.”

Not that I don’t agree with you about the usefulness of Cellphone’s comment, but in this ped-friendly utopia you envision where does the food come from? I suppose with over 8 million people – cannibalism is always an option.
posted by Tenuki at 7:48 AM on December 20, 2005


It took somewhere around 2 hours or so. Forgot to look at the clock before I walked out. The only place where there was some serious pedestrian congestion / elbowing was around Port Authority.

(Hi neighbor!)
posted by icosahedral at 7:53 AM on December 20, 2005


Good to know, icosahedral... I work in the Union Square area, and I was wondering how long such a trek would take.

Yay Astoria!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:55 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Way, way too many Astoria people here.

My wife got a car service at 7AM to take her to Jamaica for the LIRR; had to wait about 2 hours for that, then the train wasn't going anywhere; got to Penn Station and had to wait for a cab to get her down to Wall Street. She should just be getting in...now.
posted by Remy at 7:56 AM on December 20, 2005


Heywood: You do need to look at the life expectancy at below pension age because quite a lot of people used to drop dead in their 50s or whatever. Those people had a full productive life as employees but, and this is key, died before they drew from the pension.

You're trying to just look at people who survived to collect the pension and how long they drew it for. But it's at least as important to look at what percentage of employees died before they drew a pension. From a purely economic standpoint, the best result for the employer is when the employee dies immediately after retirement. You got the full productive live of the employee before having to hire and train a replacement and never had to pay a pension! WIN!

Omiewise: I'm familiar with the misleading nature of very old "life expectancy" figures, but it's not quite true that once people survived infancy they were "just as likely" to live to 80 as they are now. People weren't dropping like flies in their 30s like life expectancy figures in high-infant mortality times would lead you to believe, but nowhere near as many were living well into their 80s, either. Some were, but not as many as today. Lots and lots of people would die in their late 50s and early 60s from heart attacks and diseases and such.
posted by Justinian at 7:58 AM on December 20, 2005


TWU Local 100 Blog. Let's see how long the comments remain enabled!
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:00 AM on December 20, 2005


Afroblanco, sorry - you didn't. I'm a bit of a socialist, so I think the onus is on the Government to look after us when we are unemployed, sick or unemployable (retired). Of course, we pay for that in taxes through our working lives. But that's an ideal world, certainly not the US (or UK lately).

Personal responsibility is great... but hard to save for the future, when you are trying to put food on the plate today (I'm talking about low paid working class here). Company pensions were always a good benefit for the working class imo - the worker would contribute a portion and the company contributes while you work for them.
posted by twistedonion at 8:08 AM on December 20, 2005


Just got in, the ride was pretty easy once I got below 96. Above it, however, was a nightmare. What baffled me, was that many of the cars I rode between had one or two people in them. Did these people think there was some kind of exception to the four people to a car rule made especially for them?

I missed my bike, this makes me wonder why I stopped riding it just because it got cold...


Oh, and is this going to affect the NYC meetup this Thursday?
posted by splatta at 8:12 AM on December 20, 2005


If the strike is still going on, I can't make the meetup. But I imagine there are enough people who would be able to.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:17 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Company pensions were always a good benefit for the working class imo - the worker would contribute a portion and the company contributes while you work for them.

How is this better then a 401K, where you contribute to the 401K, and the company matches some of your contribution?

Oh, and is this going to affect the NYC meetup this Thursday?

Well, I'm going to be there.

(You see, I knew ahead of time that this strike would happen, which is why I strategically chose a venue that's across the street from me. I've got psychic skills, yo.)
posted by Afroblanco at 8:19 AM on December 20, 2005


If anyon wants to meet PP, I'm in the Tea Lounge on Union in Park Slope right now, working, and enjoying the transit strike. May it go on for a few days! And then, I say, fire them all! ;- )
posted by ParisParamus at 8:20 AM on December 20, 2005


Just kidding, about the firing. But they don't deserve more $
posted by ParisParamus at 8:26 AM on December 20, 2005


MeTa thread about meetup/strike issues.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2005


But they don't deserve more $ - ParisParamus

One of the challenging things about unions (it's both good and bad) is that everyone is treated the same. So there are employees that deserve raises and employees that don't, but it's all or nothing.
posted by raedyn at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2005


A starting train conductor makes double the salary of a starting police officer--$52,000 before overtime.

If the strike is successful it could mean better compensation and pension plans for all city employees, including police and teachers, who badly need a raise. Or at least more bargaining power. From what I've heard, they're very supportive of the strike.

I reserve my ire for tollbooth collectors, who get crazy overtime and pensions for work much less skilled than the MTA workers.
posted by Marnie at 8:45 AM on December 20, 2005


For those complaining about the strike, they're done partially to remind you how important the workers are to the city. You may argue that their work is unskilled, and that they shouldn't get paid as much as a software engineer, but obviously their work is incredibly important to the city.

I should mention that I'm somewhat biased as my dad was a UPS driver for more than 25 years. On one hand, he still has incredible health insurance, a pension, and had good benefits when he worked. On the other hand, he has trouble walking or lifting heavy things now.
posted by drezdn at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2005


Via the transit-worker blog that CoolTim linked: hard-working MTA workers, all tuckered out.
posted by nicwolff at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2005


For anyone who's pissed now - remember the blackout when the buses were the only way to get around? Have you ever been on a subway car when someone was mugged and seen the transit cops leap into action?

MTA workers are incredibly courageous and loyal to the city. They work a very dangerous job, and have pulled through for us in times of crisis. I don't see why everyone is blaming the strike on them, rather than the city and state for screwing them over.
posted by Marnie at 9:00 AM on December 20, 2005


FYI: a starting NYPD officer makes between 35-40 thousand which is not nearly half of 50 thousand.
posted by drezdn at 9:03 AM on December 20, 2005


It all depends on whether or not you believe they actually *are* being screwed over. Some of us think the last offer they got sounds pretty nice.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:03 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Bets on how long it will last? Christmas and New Years are big moments (Chanukah, less so...)
posted by ParisParamus at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2005


I walked to work today; about four miles, from Prospect Park, across Brooklyn bridge (past that notalentassclown Marty Markowitz barking on a bullhorn), down Broadway to Lower Manhattan. It was invigorating. I'm seriously considering making this a habit.

And considering that the MTA envisions totally humanless trains, a totally humanless purchasing situation

Empty stations are the reason why someone can get robbed at the Eastern Parkway 2-3 at 10am in the morning.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:17 AM on December 20, 2005


I can attest that New York is a fucking madhouse right now - the cops have shut down main roads for emergency (Madison Ave, 5th Ave) in Midtown - and below 96th Street, there is a 4-person per-car minimum to avoid congestion. People are walking over the bridge from Brooklyn and Queens to get to work in Manhattan. Cab drivers are going against the city’s plan to offer emergency single-fare cab rates and are exploiting ignorant riders to make a buck.

I got lucky (kind of) - I found a cab near my place (172nd) and took it, along with a few others, to 125th Street in Harlem at the Metro North station, and got on a Connecticut train that went to Grand Central (about 2 blocks away from where I work). Of course, my jaunt was a battle in itself - the first cab I tried to take told me he wouldn't take me into Midtown (it's actually illegal for them to refuse rides) and the second cab, after we picked up 3 more passengers (cabs are picking up multiple riders for this situation) tried to haggle with me on the city-set price (again, illegal). Alas, after a lot of arguing and freezing my ass off, I got to work and the boss is reimbursing me for my cab/train fare. And I’m one of the lucky ones.

This transit strike is absolute horseshit - it's actually illegal too - which means the union will hopefully get bent over and fucked hard by the state and the city when this whole thing blows over. I’m typically very pro-union, and I understand the anger over the MTA’s billion-dollar surplus not translating into raised wages (I also understand their desires for increased terrorism/safety training), but this whole thing is so unfair for the rest of the workers of the city...and MTA employees have it fucking made here. Transit employees start at $47 K a year (they typically make about $56 K though), they pay $0 for health-insurance, and they get to retire at age 55. The transit authority wants new employees (re: not current employees) to start paying 1% of their wages toward health insurance ( Most employees in this country pay portions for their insurance, and almost every other transit authority in the country makes their employees pay for this - in Atlanta it's 3%). If I went to my boss tomorrow and told him I want 1) an 8% raise, effective immediately 2) $0 taken out of my checks for health-insurance, and 3) the ability to retire at 55 … I’d be fired in a second.

This strike bullshit is NOT a measure of solidarity. It's selfish fucking horseshit that has completely fucked millions of families and the holiday. If they don’t like the job, fuck ‘em. There are plenty of people (myself included) who would be happy to have a job like that.

Sorry for the rant.
posted by tiger yang at 9:23 AM on December 20, 2005


where's fixedgear???

I'm right here in Philly. Like deafmute pointed out above, we can't even muster a decent transit strike in this town. All Philadelphians have NY envy/inferiority complex and this is just another sad example.

If I were gonna offer any advice to my strike bound NY MeFites I would say bust out the bike. Beats walking and once you get moving it won't be that cold.

Put me in the white collar worker with totally ineffective (AFGE) union category.
posted by fixedgear at 9:28 AM on December 20, 2005


I took some pictures this morning at the 96th Street blockades.
posted by Caviar at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2005


I took the PATH train to get to a meeting this morning. Pretty weird to travel from midtown to downtown with a stop in Jersey. For the return trip, we got a cab pretty quickly. It was a lightning quick trip back to midtown because a lot of streets were virtually empty. Expensive cab ride, though; 2 zones, 2 people = $30.
posted by brain_drain at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2005


grumblebee: I walked down to the Atlantic Ave. LIRR station around 11am and there was a long line of people waiting for trains--a lot of people are trying the LIRR option. OTOH traffic within Brooklyn isn't too bad, so a cab home from there probably wouldn't take long.

Traffic going towards Manhattan was absolutely atrocious. The streets feeding into Fulton St. were backed up for many blocks even at 11:30am. I imagine we'll see the same mess in reverse this evening. Someone way up above was wondering about Coke deliveries? I doubt Coke is delivered via subway, the real issue is that many many people who ordinarily use the subway are driving in today, clogging up the streets everywhere.

I definitely appreciate being a white-collar telecommuter.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2005


I second fixedgear's sugestion, the bike ride this morning was real nice, and not even that cold (I'm wearing long johns, it feels like I'm at work in my pjs).

The streets are pretty empty, so riding them won't be a big hassle like it usualy is.
posted by splatta at 9:38 AM on December 20, 2005


This strike bullshit is NOT a measure of solidarity. It's selfish fucking horseshit that has completely fucked millions of families and the holiday. If they don’t like the job, fuck ‘em. There are plenty of people (myself included) who would be happy to have a job like that.

So.... you'll be providing us updates over the next year with your quest to become an MTA employee, right? I'm sure we'll get updates since you're sincere about that tired overused line.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:39 AM on December 20, 2005


All Philadelphians have NY envy/inferiority complex and this is just another sad example.

But you do have the cheesesteak, so it all balances out.
posted by jonmc at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2005


TWU Local 100 Blog. Let's see how long the comments remain enabled!

It only took six comments before someone called them terrorists.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 9:51 AM on December 20, 2005


It only took six comments before someone called them terrorists.

Such a sad list of comments, so much anger and ignorance. The irony is that it's stupid mobs of people selfishly thinking like this that made unions a necessity in this country to begin with.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2005


to 125th Street in Harlem at the Metro North station, and got on a Connecticut train that went to Grand Central

Clever! How did Metro North manage to get a different union then the bus/subways anyway? They share a web page.
posted by smackfu at 9:58 AM on December 20, 2005


I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't want to live in a world where unions are toothless sops. The strike sucks ass, but the MTA is as much or more to blame than anyone else, and as others have said, it's not about how much the transit workers make as opposed to other people, it's about their right to organize and stand up for themselves. That is a hard job.

As noted above the anti-union rhetoric being spewed everywhere, the laying of blame solely at the feet of the TWU and not with the MTA, which is fucking old school corrupt, is sickening.

The population of New York is made up of many working people who struggle to live here, but they also make the city great. They would be very well served by unions like the TWU, warts and all. What the fuck America?

Now, with that out of the way, the strike does suck and the longer it goes on, the more it is going to suck. My walk from Park Slope to near the Holland Tunnel was amazing, the view from the Manhattan bridge was spectacular. It is going to get less amazing as time goes on.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2005


So.... you'll be providing us updates over the next year with your quest to become an MTA employee, right? I'm sure we'll get updates since you're sincere about that tired overused line.

Absolutely. MTA employees have it made and everyone who knows the facts is well aware of it - including transit workers in other cities, and the citizens in New York who make a third of their pay and have a third of their benefits who got royally fucked today as a result of this bullshit.

If you want tired, overused lines, I'd suggest reading the myriad of 'e-workers' and other faux-laborers who are all too happy to express their solidarity of events they don’t understand from behind computer screens, while today I got to see the people who really got screwed in this mess ... working class and poor families in Harlem stranded, missing work and losing money, carrying their crying children for 5+ miles home or to work, while Union president Roger Toussaint gets to ride home tonight in a limo. Is that trite enough for you?
posted by tiger yang at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2005


It's selfish fucking horseshit that has completely fucked millions of families and the holiday.

How does it affect the holiday at all? Is there a traditional Christmas or hannakuh subway trip that all New Yorkers take?
posted by dial-tone at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2005


I make less than a third of what transit workers make (which would be 16666 rounding) and I support their right to strike. Obviously their jobs are important (one of the factors in determining how much someone gets paid) otherwise so many people wouldn't be pissed off.
posted by dial-tone at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2005


And sorry for not capitalizing Hannakuh.
posted by dial-tone at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2005


If you want tired, overused lines, I'd suggest reading the myriad of 'e-workers' and other faux-laborers who are all too happy to express their solidarity of events they don’t understand from behind computer screens, while today I got to see the people who really got screwed in this mess ...

I work behind a computer screen (for shit pay, and I've made my living through manual labor and shopclerk work, too) and I lost a days pay cause of this strike (although I am enjoying my first beer of the day right now, so it has it's pluses), and I (for now) support the strike. I do advise that both sides get their asses in gear and start compromising right quick, though.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2005


kingfisher, ...: been wondering when we start reaping the benefits of technology and start working less. Not more.

Heywood Mogroot: It's a fact of economics that housing costs will suck any surplus out of any free market system, since ~90% of the market would like to move to a higher-quality home.

Not that I disagree exactly, but... It is at least as much culture as economics. Why are people willing to work themselves to death for that nicer home instead of valuing their free time? In a sense it is a drag on quality of life - the bigger the home you have to support the more your life sucks!
posted by Chuckles at 10:04 AM on December 20, 2005


tiger yang has saved christmas with his scrooge-like insistence on the felling of unions

"what, they want a raise in line with cost of living being higher? well, fuck them! i mean, i would want that too, but since they inconvenience me, then i don't want them to want that, i mean, um, i mean, um..."
posted by yonation at 10:05 AM on December 20, 2005


If I went to my boss tomorrow and told him I want 1) an 8% raise, effective immediately 2) $0 taken out of my checks for health-insurance, and 3) the ability to retire at 55 … I’d be fired in a second.

This might be the worst comparison in this thread. And I'm including the idiotic comparison to terrorists.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:06 AM on December 20, 2005


what, they want a raise in line with cost of living being higher?

Well, they're asking for 18% annual raises last I heard. That's a bit above the cost-of-living especially for workers who are already well paid. The last time I got a raise like that was never. Their complaints about working conditions are valid though. Maybe they should dial down the raise demands a notch and concentrate on that.
posted by jonmc at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2005


while Union president Roger Toussaint gets to ride home tonight in a limo.

Upon taking office, Roger Toussaint cut his own salary by 25%. What a selfish bastard.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2005


If I went to my boss tomorrow and told him I want 1) an 8% raise, effective immediately 2) $0 taken out of my checks for health-insurance, and 3) the ability to retire at 55 … I’d be fired in a second

Because you aren't in a union.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2005


while Union president Roger Toussaint gets to ride home tonight in a limo

...in stark contrast to Peter Kalikow, who intends to spend the evening ferrying disabled Ukranian seniors across the Brooklyn bridge on his back.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:10 AM on December 20, 2005


Has anybody been able to provide a history of the average wage increase for these MTA employees, anyway?

Lots of people are getting upset about them asking for 8% raises, but I've yet to see any discussion about what they were paid previously.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2005


How does it affect the holiday at all?

Familes who can't afford to take a cab from one Borrough to another to vistit their families during the holidays, people who can't afford to take a cab around town to buy gifts for their families, people who are losing money becasue they can't come into work and aren't getting paid, and the transit workers who are losing two-days pay for every day the strike is in effect. That's just a few..care for some more?

I make less than a third of what transit workers make (which would be 16666 rounding) and I support their right to strike. Obviously their jobs are important (one of the factors in determining how much someone gets paid) otherwise so many people wouldn't be pissed off.

You're right, their jobs are important. Yes, they should have the right to organize, and the right to a strong, competent union. However, Just tell a transit worker in any other major US city the perks and benefits of being an MTA employee and 95% of the time you'd find someone who would be happy to take that job.

And if you've ever met a teacher in your entire life, you'd know that an 'important' job does not determine how much a person gets paid in this country.
posted by tiger yang at 10:12 AM on December 20, 2005


I don't see how people keep trotting out the "last time I got that was never" argument. so, in line with your theories, if the unions had been fighting for the 8-hour workday or the weekend in general 100 years ago, then you would be lecturing them from your corner soapbox about how *you* don't get 8 hours or a weekend and therefore nobody should?

the question here is not about competition, which is *exactly* what the MTA and Pataki and Bloomberg love that you're engaging. The union here is pushing for everybody's rights, just as they have in the past with civil rights, and weekends, and workdays, and labor safety, and so forth. When the concept of solidarity is strong, everybody wins.

and the MTA itself is a piece of shit. they insist on having no money and then sell the net's arena area for 1/4 of what it was valued at because of cronyism and corruption.
posted by yonation at 10:13 AM on December 20, 2005


If you want tired, overused lines, I'd suggest reading the myriad of 'e-workers' and other faux-laborers who are all too happy to express their solidarity of events they don’t understand from behind computer screens. . .

Everybody's entitled to their viewpoint on this. I don't see what your job or socio-economic class has to do with it. But attitudes like that are what keep this board from having any dissenting opinions. Or probably any truly working class voices. I'm not an e-worker or a cake-eater. I'm also not union, but I still support them.
posted by Marnie at 10:14 AM on December 20, 2005


In regards to anti-union rhetoric, I will say this-

A strike should make us want to put pressure on bodies like the MTA to listen to the demands of unions like the TWU.

However, it is foolhardy to say that this should only work one way.

Negotiations are just that - negotiations. Some give and take on the part of both parties.

While it makes sense to sympathise with the TWU, I think that it makes just as much sense to sympathize with the MTA. After all, the MTA ostensibly represents us, the straphangers. All that money for pensions, pay, benifits, etc, has to come from somewhere, right? And nobody likes rate hikes, right?

Ultimately, it is up to us who we think is right in this situation, and how much each side should give and take.

(not that we have that much power to influence the situation or anything)
posted by Afroblanco at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2005


And if you've ever met a teacher in your entire life, you'd know that an 'important' job does not determine how much a person gets paid in this country.

You're right. Obviously the answer is for MTA workers to be paid less.

And the MTA should clearly never strike at all, they should take whatever they're given, because failure to do that is inconvenient.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2005


yonation, easy. I'm not arguing that the MTA isn't playing divide-and-conquer here, but that dosen't mean I can't hold the opinion that some of the TWU's demands are pushing it (and be pissed about missing work and losing pay) and say so, without being considered a traitor to my fellow workers, OK?
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on December 20, 2005


tiger yang has saved christmas with his scrooge-like insistence on the felling of unions

What the fuck? I support the unions. I just happen to think in this case they're asking for unreasonable demands, and as a result, are hurting a lot of other working people. I don't understand why just becasue one person finds one union's acticity to be unscupulous, the herd mentality on Metafilter finds it fit to jump on that person and claim he's 'anti-union'. That's fucking uncalled for.
posted by tiger yang at 10:18 AM on December 20, 2005


the herd mentality on Metafilter finds it fit to jump on that person and claim he's 'anti-union'.

that's because you're either with them or against them (where hav I heard that before?) Sophisticated analysis or (gasp) criticism of the party line is frowned upon.

we obviously differ on points of this debate, but I hate seeing people stifled an piled on for differing
posted by jonmc at 10:21 AM on December 20, 2005


You're right, their jobs are important. Yes, they should have the right to organize, and the right to a strong, competent union. However, Just tell a transit worker in any other major US city the perks and benefits of being an MTA employee and 95% of the time you'd find someone who would be happy to take that job.

Where I live, a studio apartment costs $350/month. In New York, it's my understanding that a studio costs more than $1000. Any transit worker outside of New York would be foolish if they tried comparing their salary directly to those of their NYC counterparts as the cost of living difference is so incredible.



And if you've ever met a teacher in your entire life, you'd know that an 'important' job does not determine how much a person gets paid in this country.


Many of my friends are teachers, where I live however, at certain grade levels there are a glut of people that have teaching degrees for certain grade levels. Unions for transit workers, construction and others do set up barriers for employment thus there's no way to tell what the supply for transit workers would really be like. But the people who have the jobs are doing things that need to be done.
posted by dial-tone at 10:22 AM on December 20, 2005


You're right. Obviously the answer is for MTA workers to be paid less.

That's straw-man, and you know it. Teachers should be paid more. Transit workers should also be given raises. I just said that demanding an 8% raise is unreasonable. Why does everything on here have to be a black and white issue? Why is it that any time someone suggests a problem with a categorically traditional "left" fundamental ( in this case it's one particular NY union) the rest of the metafitler brine jump on him and suggest he's anti-union, anti-teacher, or any other absurd slogateering that is intended to suggest that simply becasuse I happen to dissagree with something, it presupposes the notion that "well, he must be a conservative." Whatever.
posted by tiger yang at 10:23 AM on December 20, 2005


[Koch is] blathering on and displaying a repulsive amount of venom as he says "you have CRUSH them" he repeats the word "crush" and goes on about making them (the transit workers) feel pain.

Evidently his very visible presence at the RNC convention was more than just appearances. He's been taking lessons from Cheney!
posted by clevershark at 10:24 AM on December 20, 2005


jonmc, your point is well-taken. however i don't believe the TWU's demands are over the top on this one, and in fact they have offered to reduce their demands. The MTA still called their bluff and the strike went on. You're right, but I wasn't responding to you with my tirade so much as Mr Burn- I mean, tiger yang, who in his mind has been able to reconcile "What the fuck? I support the unions." with "If they don’t like the job, fuck ‘em. There are plenty of people (myself included) who would be happy to have a job like that." i don't understand how the two can coexist, and would loooooove an answer
posted by yonation at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2005


Tiger Yang, The high point of what the Transit workers are asking for might be absurd, but isn't that pretty much how negotiations are supposed to work?

Employer: I'll pay you $3 an hour, and you get one bathroom break a week, only during your free time though.

Union Rep R Kelly: We want $200 an hour and the right to go to the bathroom on passengers if we want.

Then the two hash it out and everyone else gets pissed on.
posted by dial-tone at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2005


The Labor Movement: The People Who Brought You The Weekend.

Obviously people are entitled to any opinion in regards to the strike, complex opinions (which support the strike and are pissed about it) included. I do think that it's interesting that people who are pissed are blaming the union rather than the MTA, just because the union had to go on strike. One of the reasons we have unions is because the MTA (and other employers) have the luxury of the staus quo. I also think that it's one thing to be pissed about the strike and another to have a NIMBY attitude to it. If you think that the demands are unjust (not comparatively, that's an inane argument, why compare the avg MTA salary to other transit workers, why not compare it to CEO pay on Wall Street, both are completely specious and arbitrary choices), then that's fine. I wonder how many folks are just sucking on sour grapes, though, because they are being inconvenienced.
posted by OmieWise at 10:28 AM on December 20, 2005


I wonder how many folks are just sucking on sour grapes, though, because they are being inconvenienced.

No, don't you get it? WE HATE THE ELDERLY. And children.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:32 AM on December 20, 2005


tiger yang:

To be fair to you (and it's not really the herd, I think each person feels strongly on their own about this subject), the TWU is making mistakes, not least of which is that they are grandstanding and playing personality politics, but you have to understand that you have to support all unions (once again, warts and all, and always to certain personally defined limit, big business killed many a union, but so did internal corruption) if you support one.

This does suck, it screws over many many people who do not deserve to be screwed over, people who do deserve to have protections and health plans and pensions and the other things that create lasting prosperity and make lives better than just barely scraping by or some addlepated notion of the American dream where you "Work hard and get what you deserve". It's a complicated situation, with a lot of room for frustration and strong feelings, you come on strong and you take your chances here. I support unions, I support the twu and when I am busting my ass on the way to work tomorrow and for however long this goes on, I am going to also curse them for doing this, but I still support them.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:32 AM on December 20, 2005


"What the fuck? I support the unions." with "If they don’t like the job, fuck ‘em. There are plenty of people (myself included) who would be happy to have a job like that." i don't understand how the two can coexist, and would loooooove an answer

Meaning he supports the right of workers to organize and demand better pay and conditions, but he thinks that the TWU is over-the-top in this case. I may differ somewhat, but this is as subject on which reasonable people can disagree. I think he's just a bit irked that any criticism of any union leads to him getting labelled "anti-union,' by some of our more knee-jerk commentators.

I do think that it's interesting that people who are pissed are blaming the union rather than the MTA


Omie, my man, this is me your talking to. I specifically said that I'm irked at noth the TWU and the MTA for not getting their asses in gear on this one.

I wonder how many folks are just sucking on sour grapes, though, because they are being inconvenienced.

This is beyond inconvenience. I'm missing work and losing pay. Kids are missing school. Businesses small and large are losing revenue which hurts their workers. People all over the city are taking loong walks in bitterly cold weather to go work for eight hours and then do it again in reverse. Not that this negates their right to strike but I'm letting you know this isn't piddly-shit we're talking about.
posted by jonmc at 10:35 AM on December 20, 2005


XQUZPHYR: cut the adolescent defensiveness and you might actually learn something. As an activist, you should learn to listen, rather than just polish up smartass retorts.
posted by jonmc at 10:37 AM on December 20, 2005


I love giant inflatable rats, so that's been a plus. I also have to say that I am going to try the walk home drunk as a shop steward at the PBR factory christmas party.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:41 AM on December 20, 2005


Just got back from my lunch break (my office is at 5th Ave and 43rd street). Fifth avenue in midtown is practically deserted, in terms of cars on the street, it's eerie. I can't recall a scene like that since 911.
posted by psmealey at 10:41 AM on December 20, 2005


Metafilter: WE HATE THE ELDERLY. And children.

I just said that demanding an 8% raise is unreasonable.

They stopped demanding that:
Mr. Toussaint also said the union would agree to reduce its demand for raises from 8 percent to 6 percent annually over three years, in exchange for fewer disciplinary actions. He also said transit employees needed better training and security.
posted by Remy at 10:42 AM on December 20, 2005


psmealey - How 'bout the morning after the blackout? I agree though - eerie to jaywalk on 5th avenue this morning.
posted by Sk4n at 10:43 AM on December 20, 2005


Union Rep R Kelly: We want $200 an hour and the right to go to the bathroom on passengers if we want.

Hahahaha, dial-tone, that's funnnnnnnny.

Yes, I think the cold pills are finally kicking in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:44 AM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Divine_Wino, true story, at Milwaukee Breweries, people used to be able to get free beer out of the cafeteria vending machines.
posted by drezdn at 10:44 AM on December 20, 2005


Mr. Toussaint also said the union would agree to reduce its demand for raises from 8 percent to 6 percent annually over three years, in exchange for fewer disciplinary actions. He also said transit employees needed better training and security.

Smart move. Those demands are reasonable, especially since the patience of the general public is going to wane the longer this strike goes on.
posted by jonmc at 10:45 AM on December 20, 2005


drezdn
I'd heard that. When I was squinting at a pbr can the other day it said Union Made, which made me happy, I don't want no scab beer. Well it sorta tastes like scabs, but it isn't MADE by scabs.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:48 AM on December 20, 2005


jon-I was not talking to you, I was talking to everyone who hasn't also held the MTA responsible, who has insisted (despite the power of management and the techniques of negotiation) that the TWU demands are unreasonable, and that the strike is completely unwarranted. Reasonable people should differ about what's at stake here, but people who consider themselves pro-union, whose kneejerk reaction is to be upset that the strike has occurred and who hold the TWU solely responsible (again, not you) should take a look at whether or not they really are pro-labor. If they aren't, that's fine too, but it's a think rhetorical ploy (and cowardly) to suggest that they are.

I have no illusions, despite not being in NYC, about the impact of this. I think it's a big deal, that it should be debated, that people should think about the inconvenience, the issues and their reactions. I also think it's hugely exciting, to see labor able to indicate that workers matter, that a city works when people work, and doesn't when they don't.
posted by OmieWise at 11:00 AM on December 20, 2005


Mr Burn- I mean, tiger yang, who in his mind has been able to reconcile "What the fuck? I support the unions." with "If they don’t like the job, fuck ‘em. There are plenty of people (myself included) who would be happy to have a job like that." i don't understand how the two can coexist, and would loooooove an answer

Because being pro-union is not predicated on a predisposition to vie on the side of unions in ever single instance. People make mistakes. Rich people make them. Poor people make them. In this case, the union made a huge fucking mistake. It happens. Being pro-union doesn’t mean that they are intrinsically infallible. WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THIS CONCEPT TO UNDERSTAND?

In this case, Toussaint and the union WAS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT in its initial assertion that workers should 1) get raises after MTA posts a billion dollar surplus 2) receive safety/security training 3) not receive an unreasonable changes in retirement age or healthcare costs.

However, the union fucked itself in being overzealous in the execution of its plan and subsequent strike. MTA agreed to raise employees’ wages by 4%. The MTA also agreed that NOT A SINGLE CURRENT EMPLOYEE would have to pay healthcare costs – only future employees would have to pay 1% in healthcare. Also, MTA said it would supply safety and terrorist training, and that the retirement age would now be 62 (a standard retirement age)

In response, the union created an ad campaign that completely lied to the public, stating on commercials that “they want to take our benefits away”. This is simply misinformation and it is simply untrue and everyone from Toussaint to the workers to the MTA knows it. They demanded a raise of over 8%, and demanded that no new workers pay $0 for health-care (In Washington, Chicago, and Atlanta, by contrast, it’s 2%, 2%, 3%, respectively). In the days before the strike, the union continued to play hardball with the city, but soon found the city pushing back. Toussaint defiantly shredded up a city lawsuit (he’s a good showman) and in the process claimed that he’d go on with a strike weather it was legal or not. In doing so, he’s completely turned its back on the myriad of MTA workers who didn’t want to go on strike either because 1) the city has threatened to sue each employee for $25,000 a day, which is bullshit and unfair to the workers 2) each employee losses two days of work, without pay, for each day of the strike, thereby completely ruining their holiday and the amount of time and money they can spend with their families.

Meaning he supports the right of workers to organize and demand better pay and conditions, but he thinks that the TWU is over-the-top in this case.

Thank you jonmc. Someone gets it. It really isn't that difficult.

tiger yang:To be fair to you (and it's not really the herd, I think each person feels strongly on their own about this subject), the TWU is making mistakes, not least of which is that they are grandstanding and playing personality politics, but you have to understand that you have to support all unions (once again, warts and all, and always to certain personally defined limit, big business killed many a union, but so did internal corruption) if you support one.

Yep...and if you love something then it's not hard to image that you'll speak up when you see it being corrputed. The Unions were a turning-point for labor and industry in the US and have stopped so much corruption and abuse from happening that it’s impossible to deny their benefits. But in this case they fucked up. They fucked up bad – Toussaint’s selfish grandstanding and showboating will come at the cost of thousands of workers (both MTA and non) and everyone is going to suffer for it. I hope he's happy.

And the Mr. Burns remark is funny - especially if you could see my shithole of an apartment.
posted by tiger yang at 11:07 AM on December 20, 2005


yangster, you need to drink with me and the Wino. Your grumpy enough to fit in nicely.
posted by jonmc at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2005


XQUZPHYR: cut the adolescent defensiveness and you might actually learn something. As an activist, you should learn to listen, rather than just polish up smartass retorts.

The long road of self-pity and depression following yet another failure in meeting your personal approval notwithstanding, my sarcasm remains valid. The people pulling out that card are rarely genuine, and like the "just fire them all" line which is equally nonsense I refuse to take it seriously when it's used only to support the personal "I couldn't get to work" part. I don't appreciate the real hardship of those people being used as a prop for someone angrily demanding people take a pay cut because they couldn't catch a cab this morning.

The strike is making life hard for most New Yorkers. Well, no shit. That's the point of the strike; to force the city to accept just how valuable a resource they are. Far too many people are acknowledging how important these workers are to the city while insisting they don't deserve a good salary at the same time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2005


There are plenty of people (myself included) who would be happy to have a job like that. - tiger yang

That's always the arguement against any union organizing. Essentially, "Shut up and like it". So workers should never advocate for rights because they should just be greatful for whatever scraps the employer throws at them.

I'm not meaning to attack you specifically, tiger yang. But this is a pretty common sentiment anytime a union takes stirke action.
posted by raedyn at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2005


I support strikes. But not ones that are going to make my commute a living hell.

WHOOSH!
posted by mrgrimm at 11:12 AM on December 20, 2005


*disclaimer: I was on strike for a month this year. It's a bit of a touchy subject.
posted by raedyn at 11:14 AM on December 20, 2005


The strike is making life hard for most New Yorkers. Well, no shit.

And that's easy to blithely dismiss when it's not affecting you. I miss work, I don't get paid. I've already lost pay this year due to hospitalization. A cab? I don't know about you, but a cab is are treat for me after a night out. Forgive me if I'm a mite irked that I'm gonna lose more. I don't make enough money or have family wealth that I can afford to be cavalier about it.

And your blithe dismissal of people's concerns shows me that you are more concerned with ideology than with what people actually think and say. Bad trait in an activist.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 AM on December 20, 2005


The thing that a lot of people are missing (though some may be educating themselves by reading the op-ed in today’s New York Times) is that the MTA is not a city agency, it’s a state agency, and so whoever is governor effectively decides the policy of the agency. Pataki wants the MTA to continue servicing his constituents, upstate and suburban voters, while keeping the cost to the state low. As always, city residents subsidize the interests of upstate voters, just as the people of New York state and city subsidize the interests of the red states in the national budget. I find it infuriating that the agency is set up in such a way as to dilute the influence of so many of its customers. It means that there are these kind of artificial budget restraints that make the MTA's starting offer artificially low.
posted by lackutrol at 11:19 AM on December 20, 2005


yangster, you need to drink with me and the Wino. Your grumpy enough to fit in nicely.

hey man, I get off work at 5 p.m. and after today I need a drink so bad it's not even funny. I work on the corner of Madison and 40th. I'm the grumpy-looking guy with the glasses, lookin' grumpy. Can't miss me. Hit me up.
posted by tiger yang at 11:26 AM on December 20, 2005


I'm stranded in Queens. One of these days you can meet us downtown.
posted by jonmc at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2005


and the MTA itself is a piece of shit. they insist on having no money and then sell the net's arena area for 1/4 of what it was valued at because of cronyism and corruption.

Cronyism? Corruption? Atlantic Yards went to the lowest bidder, fair and square.
posted by eddydamascene at 11:33 AM on December 20, 2005


I think Transit Workers are quite arrogant. Again, any bets on how long this will last?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2005


And your blithe dismissal of people's concerns shows me that you are more concerned with ideology than with what people actually think and say. Bad trait in an activist.

You've said that "activism" thing twice now; I'm assuming it's an attempt at an insult and I have no idea why you think it's working. Unless there's some hidden campaign site you think I've founded I'm offering my personal opinions on an internet message board. Now you can claim my comments are evidence of me being a bad poster, but hey, so's pretending to be MetaDaddy and constantly scolding everyone else on how you don't like the tone of their comments, so let's just agree we're each our own unique delicate snowflake.

I don't see a place where I mocked the hardship you and others have to deal with because of this. In fact, I think I've been pretty clear that it sucks, and I certainly don't have happy feelings for you or anyone else missing work and losing pay. So to have that amplified by being told that I don't care about elderly and poor workers is laughable, and so that's what I chose to laugh at.

There's a difference between expressing how difficult it is for you and others to get to work and how you're losing money from this, which is legitimate and something to which I sympathize, and claiming it's a legitimate reason to call for dissolving the transit union and firing everyone because they're greedy untrained corrupt bastards. I sincerely hope you and everyone else does not suffer greatly for this strike. But "everyone" includes the TWU, who were forced into doing it. Now that it's happened, complaining is fine but it has to move beyond personal grievances or else the only resolution will be one that cripples labor rights.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2005


Again, any bets on how long this will last?

The 1980 strike lasted 11 days. But regardless of which side you're on there will be either a deal or a lawsuit before Christmas. Christ, Bloomberg himself is probably losing 100 out of the $400 million a day figure.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:37 AM on December 20, 2005


In fact, I think I've been pretty clear that it sucks, and I certainly don't have happy feelings for you or anyone else missing work and losing pay.

Well, you're calling us "not genuine," and accusing us of being angry since we "couldn't get a cab," says different. It tells me you could honestly give a shit about working people unless there's political mileage to be gained from it. I could be wrong, but that's the impression you're leaving

As for activist? I've read your blog and your comic strip. You work for a an organization called CampusProgress. I assume that you're trying to affect social change. Well, your smartass, holier-than-thou know it all attitude is alienating people who would be your prime constituency. I assume you'd consider that a bad thing.
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2005


So, both e-workers and activists are not allowed to have certain positions on this?

If you're championing critical analysis, why thrive on personal attacks to invalidate opinions different from your own? This thread is appalling.
posted by Marnie at 11:49 AM on December 20, 2005


So, both e-workers and activists are not allowed to have certain positions on this?

Please. Criticism, even harsh criticism doesn't equal silencing. Grow up.
posted by jonmc at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2005


Amberglow said: sidenote: the trend of women wearing sneakers with suits to work started during our last strike in 80
This is reason enough to hate the TWU/MTA.
posted by fixedgear at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2005


Afroblanco: I think that it makes just as much sense to sympathize with the MTA. After all, the MTA ostensibly represents us, the straphangers. All that money for pensions, pay, benifits, etc, has to come from somewhere, right? And nobody likes rate hikes, right?

If you think the MTA is on your side, you haven't been paying attention, dude. You know who fought to stop the rate hike? The TWU. You know who lied about their finances to get it? The MTA. You know who fights to keep riders safe? Yeah. And who wants fo fuck you? Right again.
posted by dame at 12:09 PM on December 20, 2005


Also, tiger yang, standing up for future workers is important to the longterm power of a union and one of the big reasons my inconvenienced ass (and it's my fucking birthday that's getting all tattered today) supports the TWU. When unions sell out future workers, they undermine themselves and hurt us all. So I think that not giving in on a two-tiered system is big.

Eddymascene: It should have gone to highest bidder, dude, They're SELLING.
posted by dame at 12:17 PM on December 20, 2005


I remember the strike from 1980. Getting to school was a major hassle. It was 11 days of misery and the first time I remember feeling like a part of the city. NYC. One of it's citizens, with a commonality and a shared experience.

Being unionized helped my family immensely. Decent pay, good health benefits, it even helped pay for my college a bit. Most importantly my parents had a modicum of dignity and security for busting their backsides to make a living with good pensions. Which is what this is all about and what happens here will effect the rest of the country both in the public and private sectors for years. There's something terribly wrong with the state of the nation when CEO's make more then 300 times what average workers make. It is obscene. That's not a free market, it's an oligarchy.

Bloomberg: He should tone down the patronizing talk.

Pataki: Bland, uninspired, lame sycophant. Contender for the White House? pfft.. I guess now that the bar has been set so low...


GO UNION!!
posted by Skygazer at 12:19 PM on December 20, 2005


There's something inherently problematic with a Union/workforce as insular as the TWU. One need only go into their headquarters on Jay St. The arrogance and sloth is palpable...
posted by ParisParamus at 12:20 PM on December 20, 2005


Which is not to say the MTA is not also a mediocre, unimaginative organization. But two wrongs don't make a right.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:21 PM on December 20, 2005


RE: the MTA. Any organization that misplaces a billion dollars has no credibility. None whatsoever.
posted by Skygazer at 12:21 PM on December 20, 2005


heh.

"Cellphone, when the armageddon comes to this country and we finally run out of oil, I'm gonna leisurely strolling through my ped-friendly neighborhood in the city and I'll be LAUGHING MY FREAKING ASS OFF, thinking of you, starving and vehicleless in your forgotten Minnesotan hovel."

Who knows, he might be the one happily cultivating a garden and hiking out into the forest to hunt for his own food while *you* are the one that's starving w/o a vehicle after some thug steals your bike, or you get a flat and a new tire is $200 and will take 3 weeks to arrive.

I dunno. I'm hoping that it never comes to that, but the thought of the country folk giving the finger to the snot nosed city folk is rather amusing.
posted by drstein at 12:25 PM on December 20, 2005


Dame, please reconsider my wording:

After all, the MTA ostensibly represents us, the straphangers.

Back to my original point, though. If benefits are increased for workers, someone has to pay for it, right? I would imagine that at least some of that money would come from increased fares.

Don't get me wrong, if the cost of a 30-day Metrocard went up by $10, it wouldn't affect me, personally, all that much.

However, the increased fares would probably affect lower and lower-middle income families quite a bit more.

All I'm saying is that it's a tradeoff.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:27 PM on December 20, 2005


How is sloth palpable, paris?
posted by yonation at 12:28 PM on December 20, 2005


Its palpable in staff people who operate at a leisurely pace; who are rules freaks, and just a general vibe (I'm often there for depositions and hearings against the TA).

But, I suppose the token booth demeanor is the most telling thing...
posted by ParisParamus at 12:33 PM on December 20, 2005


How is sloth palpable, paris?

It feels just like a Juicy Couture velveteen tracksuit.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:34 PM on December 20, 2005


There are a lot of other ways for the MTA to raise money. Like, I dunno, actually charging people who take commuter trains a reasonable percentage of the fare instead of taking it out of New Yorkers' hides.

But that's even beyond the point. What the MTA does ostensibly has nothing to do with what it actually does. It tries to screw you over and the TWU stands up for you. So no, it doesn't make much sense to side with them unless you've got Pataki's hand up your ass.
posted by dame at 12:34 PM on December 20, 2005


leisurely pace!? What are we to do? they obviously aren't getting the job done.

i think bloomberg, the mta, pataki, and paris should outsource the entire transit system to guam, where there would be no taxes, no pensions and no unions, where the trains could run back and forth through eternity without any strikes... or people.
posted by yonation at 12:41 PM on December 20, 2005


Well, I suppose that I misspoke, then. In my mind, it isn't really a matter of siding with or against the MTA. It's a question of where the money will come from, and how that will effect the people of NYC.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:46 PM on December 20, 2005


Its palpable in staff people who operate at a leisurely pace; who are rules freaks, and just a general vibe - ParisParamus

A point to consider about public servants you accuse of being rules freaks:

Generally, legislation dictates every move public servants make. I know that's certainly the case in the government office that I work in. I have a legal obligation to be a rules freak. It's even more of a PITA for me than it is for my customers and I often wish we could be more helpful without making the customer jump thourgh so many hoops.

But it isn't up to me. Or my boss. Or her boss. It's not even up to the Mayor. I make an effort to make things as easy as possible for the people I serve, but if the law says I need a signature to do this, then I need a signature (or whatever). I don't demand it to make your life difficult or because I get off on it. I make suggestions for streamlining processes whenever I can, and I try to move those suggestions up the chain of command. By gum, a few of my ideas have even been implemented. Wow.

I'm not trying to claim there are no public servants that are lazy or unhelpful or whatever. Every workplace has some of those. But please remember that the majority of those workers are people - taxpayers like you - who just want to do a good job, get paid fairly for it, and then go home.
posted by raedyn at 12:51 PM on December 20, 2005


Well, Afro, people have offered many ways the MTA could pay for things without taking it out of New Yorkers: charge communters fairly, not sell things for less than they're worth, not lie about the money they actually have, etc. Again, if you don't know that already, it's because you aren't looking.
posted by dame at 12:56 PM on December 20, 2005


The Transit Workers Union should have taken the MetropolitanTransit Authority's raise plan. The Authority rightly dropped the blatant two-tiered system for a more subtle one. The Union and MTA should have agreed to negotiate on that 6% contribution. The raises aren't unreasonable and the general idea of such a contribution isn't either. There was no need for a "final offer" from either side, nor this strike.
posted by Captaintripps at 1:13 PM on December 20, 2005


Latest news is a judge has hit the union with a $1mil/day fine. That doesn't really seem super-devestating. I mean it sucks, but with 33,000 workers that's just around $30 a day per worker.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:17 PM on December 20, 2005


I’m reading so many egregious oversimplifications of this strike right now, so much mindless sloganeering from people who don’t live here and/or have any knowledge of the issues that it’s absolutely staggering.

It’s fucking offensive and ridiculous for someone to assume that the strike has simply left the city’s workers mildly “inconvenienced” because they have to rely on taking a cab to work. This isn’t a matter of inconvenience. Moreover, this isn’t simply a matter of “rich vs. poor.” Working class people and the poor in Bronx, Harlem, Queens, Washington Heights, etc are losing money - and possibly losing their jobs - because of this. A cab from Bronx to Midtown is $30 with the new, emergency-enforced cab fares by the city. Many cabs drivers are illegally disobeying these rules, exploiting the situation and charging working people $35-$40 from a ride much farther south of the Bronx (Harlem, Inwood, Washington Heights) into Midtown, not to mention the prices of getting into downtown. You don’t pay the prices – you don’t get to work. In many cases employers are not reimbursing workers for these fares, and most of the people getting bilked are the poor who aren’t privy to the emergency rates – but hey, it’s just an inconvenience, right? It’s “rich vs. poor,” right? Wrong. Try telling that to a working mother in Harlem who couldn’t afford to take a cab to work this morning.

[snide metafilter remark] “But I don’t get it … how does this effect the holidays for poor and working class people in New York (giggle, giggle)? [/snide metafilter remark]

Unbelievable.

Reading scribes from people one here writing about how the working poor should simply suck it up and deal with the “inconvenience” of losing work/money for a call of solidarity to people making more money than them is fucking mind blowing and offensive, especially when it comes from privileged-white-kid-cum working-class-ideologues who have never worked a day in their lives but somehow are living under the delusions that they have a solution to the class problems in this country after taking a few sociology classes and listening to a few of the early Springsteen albums. Just because your cardigan wearing douche professor told you that saying “Go Union” is chic in social circles it doesn’t mean that all unions are infallible or that they don’t make mistakes. Get over yourselves, please.

When the state threatens to sue each MTA employee $25,000 a day even if they personally didn’t vote for a strike, when each MTA employee is cited for two days without pay for each day they miss because of the strike simply to bolster the showboating of one union president - it’s not a mild inconvenience. These are people’s lives that Toussaint is fucking with. Is the MTA a bunch of assholes for “forgetting” to tell its employees about its $1 billion surplus? Yes. Are the MTA a bunch of lying pricks who probably don’t give a shit about its workers? Yes. Is Toussaint’s lying to MTA employees and the public about the MTA’s health care plan simply to gain support a shitty thing to do? Yes. Is Toussaint’s showboating at the expense of working people. Fuck yes. One bad union doesn’t make all unions bad. We’re all losing here – the workers, the union, the MTA, everyone. The only people who aren’t losing are the rich…The rich can afford the cabs. The rich have cars.
posted by tiger yang at 1:31 PM on December 20, 2005


Why don't you get over your own fucking self, tiger? You're no more the champion of those you cite in your comments than anyone else in the thread is. It's ok for you to use working class folks rhetorically, but wrong when others do? Even if you're among the working poor that you so eloquently characterize (I'm serious here, you've got good points), that doesn't grant you access to an entire class as a rhetorical point.
posted by OmieWise at 1:37 PM on December 20, 2005


It's getting shrill in here.
posted by eddydamascene at 1:41 PM on December 20, 2005


This was forwarded to me. It's really long, but really good, and has the perfect answers to tiger yang's comments - yonation

STRIKING FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS
by Andy Stettner

Today, 34,000 members of Transit Workers Union Local 100 that work for New York
City Transit running the city's trains and buses went on strike. Most of the
media coverage has focused on the minutia of the final contract deal and the
inconveniences of stranded straphangers. As I sit in my office after biking
over the Brooklyn Bridge on a clear December morning, I know they have missed
the true meaning of this contract debate: the future of the middle class in New
York City, and more broadly in the United States.

Our mayor, Michael Bloomberg, perfectly framed this meaning in today's New York
Times (December 20th)

Mr. Bloomberg said that a walkout would hurt many workers in the hotel,
restaurant and garment industries who earn less than the transit workers. The
transit workers average $55,000 a year with overtime.

"You've got people making $50,000 and $60,000 a year - are keeping the people
who are making $20,000 and $30,000 a year from being able to earn a living,"
Mr. Bloomberg said. "That's just not acceptable."

Here you have the 'unacceptable' vision of our Mayor for working class New
Yorkers ? jobs that pay less than $35,000. New York City's economy is
growing strongly ? but it is growing like a donut, with high paying jobs and
lower paying jobs increasing at the same time. From 2000 to 2004, New York
City's middle class (families earning between $35,000 and $150,000 per year)
declined at a rate that was four times the national average according to New
York's Fiscal Policy Institute.

The problem is that a family cannot really live on $35,000 in New York City.
Among other things, housing costs for both rentals and especially for home
buyers have increased astronomically. Take a look at the meticulously
prepared self-sufficiency standard for New York City prepared by the Women's
Center for Education and Career Advancement. In none of the five boroughs of
New York City, could a family with one adult and one child meet the basic
minimum daily expenses (housing, child care, food, transportation) on such a
salary. Between $55,000 and $60,000 per year should meet the minimum needs of
a family of four, but after living here for 10 years I don't know exactly how.

Middle Class Life at Stake in New York City

That's what makes jobs like those at New York City Transit so vital to the
city's health. According to most media reports, the average New York City
Transit worker earns between $47,000 and $55,000, while many start at as little
as $33,000. While the earnings are modest, the job comes with strong health
care benefits and a traditional defined benefit pension.

What do middle class jobs provide our city? At these wages, working families
don't have to depend on publicly funded work supports like Medicaid or Child
Health plus that are being stretched by a shrinking tax base. Middle class
families bring stability to communities and schools, and have an opportunity to
send their kids to college and even out the wealth distribution over the
long-term. Most deeply, the existence of good middle class jobs ensures that
the promise of opportunity that New York once provided to immigrants and
domestic migrants is not lost in the 21st century. New York City Transit
Authority jobs have provided such opportunity, first for Irish-Americans and
other Europeans, and now increasingly for Caribbean-American and Latino
communities. Contrary to the Mayor's assertions, low-wage workers generally
support the existence of middle-class better paying jobs because it does
provide a ladder up?rather than begrudging their better position.

What Wages Do Transit Workers "Deserve"?

Bloomberg and Governor Pataki (who actually controls the MTA) have decided to
make an all out assault on these jobs. They have basically stated that New
York City Transit workers don't deserve the salaries that they are making. Do
transit workers deserve these wages? Transit workers do thankless and dangerous
work. Bus drivers face hostile customers and murderous traffic all day.
Subway workers toil in dark, vermin-infested, century-old subway tunnels. A
mistake by a New York City transit worker can be a life-or-death mistake for
riders or for themselves. Since World War II, 132 track workers have been
electrocuted or killed by trains in the New York subways, 21 in the last two
decades.[i][i] Basic necessities, like the ability to go to the bathroom, are
a luxury for transit workers. So, too, are days off. The New York Daily News'
Errol Louis reports that NYCT workers engage in annual ritual of sleeping on
cots to request Thanksgiving Day off in person 30 days in advance as required
by their contract.

On this basis, it seems clear that these NYCT workers deserve some kind of wage
premium for this kind of "dirty job." But wages are set in the market and in a
power dynamic between labor and capital?and the question is whether TWU
members have a realistic shot at maintaining their middle class lifestyle.
Obviously, middle class life for working people is under attack in the U.S.
because of the pressures of globalization?with the most visible symbol of
this assault being the 30,000 plus workers of Delphi auto parts who are facing
massive wage cuts or layoffs (initially posed as a cut from $27/hour plus to
$12/hour or less). But, New York City Transit workers should be exactly the
kind of workers who should be able to hold on to a middle class way of life in
the 21st century. Knowledge-driven, high-wage, service-sector economies like
that of New York City depend on a web of effective mass transit. Indeed, the
recovery of the subway from its graffiti-ridden and violent past has part of
New York City's rise from the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Because of a surge
in population and public transit usage, the MTA now has a nearly $1 billion
surplus this year. (This is even before they have finalized deals to sell
extremely valuable land development rights above train yards in downtown
Brooklyn and the West Side of Manhattan). The MTA can afford to sustain a
fair living wage for the workers they need to operate the system, and
competitive pressures should be tilting in the favor of the workers.

The Contract on the Table and Its Repercussions

The union reports that the MTA's final offer is 3 percent, 4 percent and 3.5
percent. Because this represents an improvement over an initial deal of 2
percent, the media has been reporting this as a better deal than what was
initially presented. This "raise" proposal is really no raise at all. Inflation
is running at 3.5 percent in Northeastern cities, so this salary increase would
leave workers treading water. In exchange for a zero percent real raise, TWU
has been asked to accept cuts in retirement security (an increase in the
retirement age from 55 to 62) for future workers, a year after the State
Assembly passed a bill to lower the transit worker retirement age to 50.
(Indeed the union has argued that pension issues should be off the table
because they are generally the jurisdiction of the Legislature, which is an
argument backed by the Republican head of the New York State Senate). Increased
health care contributions were on the table early in the negotiation, and it is
unclear what the final deal included on this side. This contract offer comes
after the MTA accepted a three year contract that featured no raise in year one
(only a one-time $1,000 bonus) and a two percent (less than cost of living) in
2003 and 2004. That contract represented a sacrifice that many municipal
workers made during the 9-11 recession. So, the MTA has asked the TWU to stand
still on wages and accept cuts elsewhere. It is really no offer at all for an
agency with a billion dollar surplus.

If TWU accepted this contract, it would set the scale downward for all upcoming
New York municipal contracts. Other municipal workers have less leverage with
the city because their salaries are tied directly to tax revenue as opposed to
user fees. TWU should be lauded for defending conditions not just for
themselves but for future generations of transit workers, and the rest of
unionized labor in New York.

The biggest target for the MTA and their allies in city and state government are
pensions. These defined benefit pensions do represent a large liability - - but
also are a crucial bulwark against the slide towards retirement insecurity for
lower wage workers. The 401(k) model of defined benefit pensions can work for
higher wage workers who can manage to save towards a million dollars by the
time of retirement and then live off of annuities and interest. This model is
not working well for working class people and African-Americans and Hispanics.
Only 40 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics age 47-64 can expect to have
retirement income equal to fifty percent of their prior salary.[ii][ii] So, the
kind of pension security achieved by TWU is worth defending.

So, where do we draw the line in defense of middle class living and retirement
security? If the MTA gets their way, we can expect a slide in living standards
for a whole range of municipal workers. And, we can expect the race to the
bottom to continue in service sector jobs like health care and building
services that have a chance to pay decent wages to working people in a
globalized age. For this analyst and activist, at least, in New York City,
the Transit Workers Union is a place where this line is being drawn. It
remains to be seen whether the TWU will be able to organize enough external and
internal solidarity and favorable public opinion to win this battle. This is
especially true since they face stiff fines under the state's Taylor Law for
engaging in an illegal strike. But, all of us who profess a concern for living
standards and values of economic opportunity and fairness seem to owe them our
solidarity. Please do all you can ? visit www.twulocal100.org to find out
about opportunities to express solidarity. Most importantly, when your friends
and colleagues whine about the commute try to tell them what is at stake.
posted by yonation at 1:44 PM on December 20, 2005


yonation - thank you for answering my question about pensions vs. 401K. I was still wondering about that.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:50 PM on December 20, 2005


Clever! How did Metro North manage to get a different union then the bus/subways anyway? They share a web page.

I'm hearing talk of a Metro North sympathy strike and/or slowdowns and other actions. They share the same bosses--the MTA--but are under different contracts, people said.
posted by amberglow at 2:22 PM on December 20, 2005


Screw the union.

Everyone knew what the laws were when they took the damn job. Breaking the law now wins ZERO sympathy from me for those spoiled uneducated dimwit lazaholics.
posted by HTuttle at 3:02 PM on December 20, 2005


Not to denigrate all the really great dialogue here about the nature of unions in a classist society, but no one here has whinged yet about how difficult it is to drive any vehicle defensively, including bikes, with a million pedestrians yammering into their cellphones. "OH MY GOD! I CAN"T BELIEVE I"M WALKING THIS FAR!"

I'd just hate for my little pet peeve to get short shrift in all this.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:05 PM on December 20, 2005


tiger yang writes "Why does everything on here have to be a black and white issue?"

You kind of went way over the top on your first post which is why people responded over the top.

drezdn writes "at Milwaukee Breweries, people used to be able to get free beer out of the cafeteria vending machines"

It's better than them sampling off the line.
posted by Mitheral at 3:06 PM on December 20, 2005


TigerYang, Back the fuck up. You think being pro union is chic? What country are you living in? Your presumptions are way off base. You don't know jack about anyone's background here. I certainly didn't need a "cardigan wearing professor" to tell me unions are important. I have first hand knowledge. The working and middle class have kids and those kids are either going to grow up to be educated productive tax paying citizens or they're going to propogate poverty, become drug addicts and find you and steal your shit and maybe do worse. You're falling right into the ploy that the rich and the GOP has been pulling on this country for years which is divide and conquer. People must deserve it if they're not so well off right? Screw that. There's a war on the working/middle class in this country, from people who're obscenely wealthy who want to consolidate power and create a permanent underclass. A lot of the rights you have were established by the labor movement of the last century. Are unions perfect? absolutely not and I personally think they've become a bit stale to present realities and are in danger of becoming obsolete if they don't adapt and clean out the corruption, but seeing who's on the other side and what's happening in this country, I say hell yeah: Go union.
posted by Skygazer at 3:30 PM on December 20, 2005


Screw the union.

Everyone knew what the laws were when they took the damn job. Breaking the law now wins ZERO sympathy from me for those spoiled uneducated dimwit lazaholics.


Don't be too harsh with yourself.

Consider this: if you can't stop working then you're a slave. Hating others freedom will give you troubles...hating your own freedom means only you're seriously insane.
posted by elpapacito at 3:40 PM on December 20, 2005


Unions are least chic thing around--they're just vitally important, especially when dealing with proven-to-be-corrupt management like the MTA.

Some of us come from union families--we know the benefits of unionization, and that they lifted our families from the working poor into the middle class.
posted by amberglow at 3:46 PM on December 20, 2005


As an SUV-driving resident of Greenwich Village, I'd just like to say also Go Union! I never imagined shopping in Soho and Nolita just five days before Christmas could be so pleasant. No lines at the Apple Store! Kate's Paperie was not a madhouse! And I got a seat at Cafe Habana with no waiting right at lunchtime! (Johnny Knoxville was there, looking very dapper in a blue sweater vest over a shirt and loose tie.) Really, best transit strike ever! I'll be singing a different song when my girlfriend has to get into town from La Guardia later tonight - but for now, ♫ ahem hm mi mi mi ♫ Which side are you on, boys, which side are you on?... ♫
posted by nicwolff at 3:49 PM on December 20, 2005


I live in Los Angeles. I recently took a job that allows me to get to work by car, by bus, by bicycle or (in a pinch) by walking, although it's not my first choice, being only slightly less than four miles away. So I'm covered if gas runs out, if transit strikes, if my car breaks down, and if I break my hip.

Don't blame anybody for taking away your transit options; keep you feelings about your inability to get where you need to go separate from your feelings about the well-being of the employees and the profitability of the transit companies. Take responsibility for your own life, and if you find yourself vulnerable to something like this, well, you can of course be annoyed and pissed off -- but you should also take it as a wake-up call that perhaps you're living a lifestyle that puts a significant amount of power to disrupt your life in the hands of others.

To be clear: NOT saying "you deserve what you get", just try to realize nobody was trying to inconvenience you on purpose, and now you perhaps realize you need to change your lifestyle so that it cannot be disrupted so readily.
posted by davejay at 4:56 PM on December 20, 2005


::snort::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:08 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


you should also take it as a wake-up call that perhaps you're living a lifestyle that puts a significant amount of power to disrupt your life in the hands of others.

Uh, I seem to be unclear on the concept. Seeing as how I don't grow my own food, generate my own electricity, or try to doctor myself, this seems to mean that I'm living a lifestyle where I'm living at the pleasure of farmers, the energy company, and physicians. Are you perhaps suggesting that we all move to Montana, buy a farm and lots of guns, and devote our time to survivalist training?
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2005


How do you suggest I "change my lifestyle so that it cannot be disrupted so readily"? I eagerly await your advice on this matter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


davejay: I admire your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by fet at 5:24 PM on December 20, 2005


just try to realize nobody was trying to inconvenience you on purpose

In what county in LA do strikes happen by accident?
posted by onalark at 6:21 PM on December 20, 2005


Tiger Yang: Calm down and enjoy a delicious fish taco.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2005


How do you suggest I "change my lifestyle so that it cannot be disrupted so readily"?

Go to FreshDirect, and stock up on taco fixins and Negro Modelo.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:02 PM on December 20, 2005


Yes! That is what I will do! Thanks I Love Tacos! :-D
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:15 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, my boss wants me to come to the office tomorrow... and I have no idea how I'm going to get there. Guess I'll just leave my house and see if I can get a ride in a van or a car headed into Manhattan.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:26 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


our lifestyles in the city are far less disruptive in many ways than those of the suburbs or rural areas (or LA and other car-dependent places)--we don't drive, and use public transportation (or cabs if we can afford it).

and once every 25 years is not really "so readily".

There's a ferry, TPS, from LIC to 34th st.
posted by amberglow at 7:28 PM on December 20, 2005


Hmm, do you know where I'd catch it, amberglow?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:35 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


Anyone know if you can walk across the 59th street Bridge into midtown? Thx.
posted by Skygazer at 7:37 PM on December 20, 2005


I'm pretty sure you can, skygazer.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:39 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


[snide metafilter remark] “But I don’t get it … how does this effect the holidays for poor and working class people in New York (giggle, giggle)? [/snide metafilter remark]

I wasn't trying to be snide when I said that, and if anything your comment now made me lose almost. any sympathy.

So far as I knew, I couldn't imagine anyone trying to get to midtown Manhattan on Christmas Day (also the first day of Hannakuh) via the subway system. You had made mostly decent point that people would have to get to their families in other burroughs.

As previously pointed out in the thread though, this was pretty much the only time they could strike. As for me, I'm not an academic. Two years ago I took the two two hour bus rides to get to and from a job that only paid $7.00 an hour.
posted by dial-tone at 7:43 PM on December 20, 2005


The "it's against the law" argument doesn't work for me. for years, the government has been castrating the unions by pulling the line that's it's in the vital interest that various union workers continue working (for example, there are UPS strikes that were ended by the act of the Federal Government who saw shipping as a vital interest).

The strike is one of the few tools workers have in disagreements with management, to take it away from them is to essentially make them meaningless.
posted by drezdn at 7:57 PM on December 20, 2005


I wish they would push out the strike - something like strike one day this week, and if they don't have a deal by next monday strike two days next week, etc. It still preserves the strike as a weapon while appearing much more fair to the riders and tax payers of the city than the current standoff. (just a thought)
posted by jba at 8:08 PM on December 20, 2005


No way- if they're gonna strike I want them to do it all at once and be done with it. The stress of all this madness is going to give me an ulcer.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:19 PM on December 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


I agree they shouldn't on-off the strike.
Personally, I think they should keep the strike going throughout the week (if the MTA doesn't reground itself in reality...)

and all this quibbling over $20MM is really petty on their part, in my opinion, considering the police overtime costs are going to make that sum seem silly.

But for the MTA to take the posture that because of the deficit, workers should take a pay/benefit cut, then because of a surplus, half-price rides should be given out to tourists, well, it's lame. As in it doesn't walk/fly.
posted by Busithoth at 8:26 PM on December 20, 2005


How does the transit workers union obtain compensation, oh, 50% above free market levels and still feel confident in its ability to conduct an illegal strike against the public interest to get more?

Well, the union has a monopoly, a real life monopoly, on employment in a transit system that millions of people -- the great majority of whom are poorer than the transit workers -- rely upon to get to work and for a host of other vital needs. That's monopoly power.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:00 PM on December 20, 2005


Busithoth: It seems like a lot more than $20MM they're talking about (maybe you're talking about something other than salary?). If the average salary is $55k right now, their yearly salary payout is 1.87 billion (assuming 34k workers). The proposed raise to 62k average would increase the yearly payout $238 MM / year - which starts to get significant considering that's not even including the raise in health care costs over the next few years, etc.. ;-)
posted by jba at 9:03 PM on December 20, 2005


You knew someone would do it, and they have: I survived 9/11 and the Blackout and all i got was this lousy Transit Strike tshirts.
posted by amberglow at 10:30 PM on December 20, 2005


and gawker on craigslistings: Transit strike: Give me head.. I’ll drive you where you need to go - m - 29 (Kew Garden Hills)*
posted by amberglow at 10:40 PM on December 20, 2005


Well, the union has a monopoly, a real life monopoly, on employment...
And the MTA has a monopoly, a real life monopoly, on transit work in the city, what's your point? What you see as a flaw is the inherent strength in a union.
posted by Edible Energy at 1:17 AM on December 21, 2005


That's monopoly power. posted by Kwantsar at 6:00 AM CET on December 21 [!]

Actually it's NOT a monopoly, you can go on your legs or bike or car so it's not. Is it inconvenient ? Oohh too bad you don't have a right to convenience.

And that is of course what many people will be said ...a talking point, a rightwing nutso talking point most probably. Why ? Because GOD forbid somebody should notice private companies are many times practical monopolies according to your self-serving definition of monopoly.

But no you're just supposed to smile obediently ..actually you don't even have to smile so as long as you believe, a true believer, a blind believer !
posted by elpapacito at 3:28 AM on December 21, 2005


Kwanstar ain't a biker.
posted by bardic at 8:02 AM on December 21, 2005


Technically the MTA has not a monopoly on transit employment but a monopsony - they're the only buyer, not seller. </didactic prick>
posted by nicwolff at 9:19 AM on December 21, 2005


How do you suggest I "change my lifestyle so that it cannot be disrupted so readily"? I eagerly await your advice on this matter.

Move closer to your job. Get your kids into a local school (which might be impossible, so you might have to move again.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:33 AM on December 21, 2005


I'm not from NYC, but I know the pain of a transit strike (in Toronto, none of my family drive and we're all about 16 km from work, school, etc). Transit strikes, like all public sector strikes (teachers, police, hospital workers) hit not at one business but essential services.

That said, all workers must have the right to actually have some power in their negotiations with their employer, and often this means a strike.

So my radical idea is this: a fare strike. It should be written into the contract that when the union is in a legal position to strike, instead of not driving the buses/subway/etc, they will continue to work, but no fares will be collected. This way, the other people aren't hurt, and the employees actually have a threat to use against the employer.

I've been trying to think of how this would work for university teachers, but I think it would be more complicated to return tuition to students.
posted by jb at 1:51 PM on December 21, 2005


So my radical idea is this: a fare strike. It should be written into the contract that when the union is in a legal position to strike, instead of not driving the buses/subway/etc, they will continue to work, but no fares will be collected. - jb

In my City, they did this as job action for the few days before what turned out to be a month long strike. The City said they couldn't do that and threatened disciplinary action, suing, etc. The Union insisted it was legitimate job action, but ended up paying the City the lost fees out of Union coffers in a "gesture of good faith".

This way, the other people aren't hurt,

That's debatable. It still costs money to keep the srevice running, and fees & fares help pay for that. If there's no fees/fares collected, who foots the bill? The taxpayer, right? That hurts all of us.

It was mighty popular with transit riders here when the drivers weren't collecting fares, sure. And it didn't screw up their lives like the month long strike did. But that's short sighted.
posted by raedyn at 2:49 PM on December 21, 2005


jb, something like that's been going on with MetroNorth. The conductors and engineers and stuff aren't striking, so the trains are still running, but out of solidarity with the city MTA workers, the ticket-takers aren't ticket-taking.
posted by booksandlibretti at 4:11 PM on December 21, 2005


State Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones ordered Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint and his deputies to appear in court Thursday at 11 a.m., suggesting that jail time was a "distinct possibility.

There you go, refuse to work ? Go to jail. You must work, slaves ! It's a democracy under rule of law ONLY if I say so.
posted by elpapacito at 8:02 AM on December 22, 2005


And more
Bloomberg, who isn't directly involved in the strike talks, said he didn't think putting union leaders in jail was appropriate.

"The fines are what is going to hurt," he said. "Fines don't make you a martyr and fines you don't get back."


At least he nailed the core issue : not only not working will land you in jail, but the fines will also starve you.

Two more reasons to support the strike
posted by elpapacito at 8:14 AM on December 22, 2005


jb, something like that's been going on with MetroNorth. The conductors and engineers and stuff aren't striking, so the trains are still running, but out of solidarity with the city MTA workers, the ticket-takers aren't ticket-taking.
posted by booksandlibretti at 4:11 PM PST on December 21 [!]


Too bad I just moved from CT a few months ago - I could have taken some nice free trips to NYC. Not that I could have gotten around when there :)
posted by jb at 9:09 AM on January 5, 2006


« Older Everyone is aware, I'm sure, that year-end or best...   |   The Alvin Lustig Archive... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments