Thursday, December 22, 2005

Strike Over?

News of the strike ending is a tad premature when you realize that the trains and buses wont be fully operational until sometime tomorrow. Announcing the end of the strike is only the first step. The TWU voted 38-5-2 to end the strike. The MTA and union workers have to get the buses and trains into operating positions. And that takes time. Meanwhile, the TWU has agreed to continue negotiations, which is precisely the same position they were in when they called the strike three days ago.

Actually, they're not really in the same position they were in three days ago. They in a far worse position, economically, politically, and in the court of public opinion. The union is more than $3 million in the hole counting the penalties and lost wages for all their employees. NYC, New York State, and thousands of businesses and employees are $1 billion in the hole for lost business, wages, and tax receipts.

Way to go.

That sound you hear is a Bronx Cheer to all those involved in calling this strike in the first place. That means Roger Toussaint and the TWU Local 100 bosses who thought that striking was a good thing to do on the eve of Christmas during the busiest season for retailers and employees look to make extra money doing overtime during the holiday season. The TWU screwed over everyone, and now they should be forced to pay the fines. If it means that the local goes belly up, so be it. They should have known the outcome of their outlandish actions would have repercussions.

However, I fully expect that the fines will be waived by the state and city because they've got political considerations to look after. They know that they rely on the various unions for getting out the vote and organizing voting campaigns, so they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them. Attorney General Spitzer should do what is best for the state, not what is best for him politically by enforcing the injunction and collecting on the penalties. And his failure to do so should be held against him going forward as it should be made abundantly clear that he puts his own interests ahead of the state's interests.

I've been watching Channel 11 News and they're busy trying to say that the strike was over $20 million that the MTA would save this year. That's stretching the issue so far as to deny reality. The pension savings in the first year would be compounded over time - and save hundreds of millions of dollars within 5 years. The reason that the union refused to budge is that if they agreed to these changes, it would only be a matter of time that the union would have to make further concessions on the pensions (and other public unions would follow suit).

So, who are the losers in the strike? The Union - first and foremost, not only did they run through their strike fund, but lost the respect of millions. The MTA lost because no one trusts them. The mayor and governor lose because they didn't act swiftly enough to impose the harshest penalties on the union members and leadership. At the crucial moment, they caved and it will cost taxpayers in the future. Most of all, taxpayers and commuters lost - not only on the direct impact of the strike, but in future costs to defray the losses from the strike, increased benefit payments, and higher fares and taxes.

So, who are the winners in the strike? There were none - unless you count the mediator who got the sides to agree to continue negotiating. He's the sole winner in this whole mess.

Cross posted to Outside the Beltway, The Conservative Moderator, Barking Moonobat Early Warning System, and the Gothamist notes that Roger Toussaint has told union workers to trust him. Yeah, I get the feeling that most union workers wont do that after they realize that the only thing that came from this strike is the increased animus from the public, and a lighter wallet.

Earlier coverage: Seeing The Humor in Striking
Three Strikes and You're Out?
Rogering New York
A Pox On Both Their Houses
The Pension Gap
The TWU to NYC: We're Gonna Strike
Taking Sides in the Transit Strike

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