Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rogering New York

We're into Day 2 of the transit strike here in NYC and things didn't all go smoothly. Traffic jams at all the HOV checkpoints. Long lines to wait to get onto LIRR trains in Queens and the Bronx. Even longer lines at Penn Station, where the LIRR didn't have its act together, and there were big problems yesterday at Shea Stadium where commuters were supposed to be able to either carpool or take LIRR. Problem there was LIRR didn't start stopping at Shea until 9:00AM.

Yet, despite it all, most New Yorkers are going about their business on this pre-holiday week. Many grumble about the weather, the inconveniences, and the union. Mayor Bloomberg, on the other hand, went public with his feelings - and called the union actions thuggery. Roger Toussaint said that the mayor should apologize and that it was disrespectful. Sorry Roger, but that was respectful. He should have called you a criminal and had you arrested for violating state law.

Did you know that nearly all transit workers make at least $16 an hour. That includes the cleaning crews. That works out to around $35,000 per year with full benefits including the pension at 55 or 20 years of service.

GOP and the City says shut up and drive already. Thespis Journal has a bunch of photos, including Mayor Bloomberg walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as information for those wanting to see Broadway shows.

The NYT wants to pin the blame of the strike on the MTA, which wanted to raise the contributions of workers into the pension from 2% to 6%. The NYT says that this would have saved the MTA $20 million. Not quite sure how those numbers were figured, but that number increases every year because of compounding. In other words, after 5 years you're looking at more than $100 million. That's not chump change and that's precisely what the MTA was looking at- the long term crushing costs of pensions. The fiscal benefits from these changes wont happen overnight, but will be felt years down the road.

And if the pensions were the sole sticking point, more could have been done to negotiate a deal. The union walked away from the table and struck, against the wishes of the International Transit Workers Union, which may seek to remove Toussaint from his position. Roger Toussaint and the rest of Local 100's leaders must be held accountable for their illegal actions.

Also, kudos have to go to Fox5 and specifically reporter Penny Crone, who's been asking tough questions of the union workers on the picket lines as well as members of other unions who may or may not by sympathetic to the TWU demands. She's asked TWU members how they can strike when the international union calls the strike illegal. You get some interesting responses, but not one admits that they're engaging in a criminal act. It's denial on their part.

Now, the PBA has come out in support of the TWU Local 100, saying that they are striking for all workers, but I don't really buy it one bit. If this was about all workers, they would have stayed at the bargaining table and worked out a deal. Instead, we're seeing reduced business in Lower Manhattan and Midtown during the height of the shopping season. Businesses make most of their money during this season and they're being rogered by the union, which claims to be striking for all workers. If workers can't get to their jobs to make money, and customers can't get to the businesses to spend, who exactly is benefitting from this? Not a single person.

Fox5 specifically states that the transit strike is illegal on their scroll, while other networks simply use transit strike. That hammers home the fact that the job action is illegal, and there should be consequences for the union's actions. Today, the sides are heading to court to argue over whether the fines against individual workers should be implemented. They should.

And the fine against the union should be increased as well. It was too low to start, and it can be deferred, although reports indicate that the $1 million is roughly one-third of the union's strike fund. Meanwhile the city and state is hemmoraging money to cover the costs of the strike as well as the lost revenue.

The Gothamist has more, including running updates. They're running a poll as to when the strike will end. I'm figuring it will end on Friday, but don't bet the farm on that.

Meanwhile, the Post is reporting that most New Yorkers are against the union strike.
More than 72 percent of 5,894 respondents said the TWU is responsible for the walkout that has crippled the Big Apple; 27 percent blamed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A total of 4,121 had voted in the poll by last night.
That mirrors my quick take of the comments on the TWU blogsite before they took the comments down. I figured that about 80% of the comments slammed the union action.

GOP and the City has a zombie report on the strike, and a more serious posting as well. Check with The Man regularly for updates.

Suitably Flip has more comments and coverage.

Mrs. Lawhawk got into work okay, and even had a pleasant surprise as a driver stopped to ask if she needed a ride uptown from the Port Authority. She was only a couple of blocks from her office so she declined, but it tickled her pink that someone was thoughtful enough to offer. To that nameless good samaritan, thank you for being a mensch.

Stan at Logic and Sanity talks of the TWU's insanity.

About 1,000 transit workers had crossed picket lines and were assigned to administrative duties. Roger Toussaint is also meeting with a mediator to break the impasse. I'd say the best way to break the impasse is for the union to drop its demands and accept the MTA's terms. Of course, Roger Dodger sees things differently:
"We will go to binding arbitration only over the dead bodies of our leadership," Mr. Toussaint said at a rally Monday outside Gov. George E. Pataki's midtown Manhattan office. "Nobody decides the contract for transit workers except transit workers, regardless of what the law says."

After the 1980 strike, the transit union supported the state's binding-arbitration clause, but Mr. Toussaint, who was elected in 2000, has said he does not believe arbitration would give his members the best deal. The state's binding arbitration clause applies to only three categories of workers: police officers, firefighters and M.T.A. employees.
That callous disregard for the law should get Roger into a heap of legal trouble. Will someone take him up on the offer...

Maybe someone is taking notice that Roger is in a world of trouble. The possibility of jail is being considered. Not that Roger wouldn't mind. He'd be a martyr to his fellow nutcases at the TWU Local 100, and cement his status as being a legend in his own mind. For the rest of us, Roger going to jail would be small consolation for what he's wrought on the City.
State Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones, who is hearing several legal issues related to the strike, directed attorneys from the Transport Workers Union to bring president Roger Toussaint and other top officials before the court Thursday to answer to a criminal contempt charge. He said he may sentence the union leaders to jail for refusing to end the strike, calling such a scenario a "distinct possibility."

Union lawyer Arthur Schwartz said Toussaint and the other officials are in negotiations with mediators and that hauling them into court could halt the talks.

The Malcontent finds that the one-fingered salute appropriate to the TWU. Cake or Death found a transit worker busy at work. The Florida Masochist awards the knucklehead award of the day to the TWU and Roger Toussaint. He's got idiotarian of the year candidate written all over him.

Pamela at Atlas Shrugs says Gov. Pataki should fire 'em all if they don't get back to their jobs. Bad Hair Blog has similar feelings. The Anchoress wonders what would Ronald Reagan do? (answer: fire 'em). And Insignificant Thoughts echoes the thoughts of many - what were they thinking.

Earlier coverage: A Pox On Both Their Houses
The Pension Gap
The TWU to NYC: We're Gonna Strike
Taking Sides in the Transit Strike

Technorati: , , , , .

No comments: