Thursday, December 22, 2005

Three Strikes and You're Out?

Today marks the third day of the NYC transit strike, and Roger Toussaint has a date with a judge later this morning that could result in his being sent to jail for being in contempt of court for violating court injunctions against striking (and that's on top of the state Taylor law that prohibits strikes by public employees).

Since the TWU Local 100 has been hit with a fine of $1 million per day for each day that the union is on strike, the culmulative tally so far for the union is $3 million in fines. We'll see if they pay up.

Meanwhile, the City and local economy has been hammered. Hard.

The City Comptroller, Bill Thompson, has said that the strike has cost the City $400 million for the first day, and $300 million for each successive weekday. That's $1 billion so far. And counting.

What does this mean for New Yorkers? Plenty. Local businesses may go under since this is the prime shopping season and if they can't make their money, they might go under, layoff workers, and otherwise find other ways to stay afloat. The lost revenue also means lost tax collections - and less money for the City and State means that their budget situations will not be as good going forward. That means that the budget for the MTA will be hit - along with all the other social programs that many of the least well-off New Yorkers rely upon to get by.

For the rest of the country, it means that stocks of retail companies that do business in the area may not reach their revenue targets - hitting the stock market.

But remember, the Union says that this is all about the worker.

With the fallout from the strike hitting nothing but workers unaffiliated with the union, it's hard to see that this is about the worker at all. It's all about the myopic and greedy bastards running the local union (whose international leadership is considering taking over the local because the strike was not authorized by the international leadership).

The New York Post makes it eminently clear what they think should happen:
Jail Toussaint for illegal strike

Mayor Bloomberg continues his war of words with Toussaint and the union leaders, calling them frauds and thugs. Al Sharpton blasts Bloomberg (so that's where he's been hiding out lately. The union has the city over a barrel and doesn't seem to care about what economic damage is being wrought. They're selfish to boot. It would appear that the union doesn't realize or care that this strike is going to make it even more difficult to meet their demands. They're simply focused on their own demands, and nothing else. Union reps continue claiming on television (Fox 5) that the strike is to defend pensions for all workers, but that rings hollow since most private businesses have switched from defined benefit plans (pensions) to defined contribution plans - 401ks and other benefit plans. The crushing costs of pensions on businesses and government will continue to take a toll as this generation of worker heads towards retirement and saddles the next generation with a debt that will need to be repaid out of a diminished budget.

There have been some workers who were crossing the picket lines, but they've been threatened. Some people realize that this strike is illegal, but the union wants to put the screws to the city - and the dissention within the union has been evident from early on.

And despite the fact that the MTA and Gov. Pataki have said that it wouldn't negotiate with the union, there are reports that some kind of meetings are taking place (though it appears that this isn't face to face, but through a mediator).

GOP and the City seeks to add a bit of levity to the situation.

Several smaller unions that struck with TWU Local 100 have also been fined.
A state judge has ordered fines against a smaller union that's taking part in the New York City transit strike. State Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones ordered that one chapter of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union be fined $50,000 a day. And another chapter of the union be fined $75,000 a day. The union represents aboout 3,000 workers in the MTA.

Suitably Flip has his morning roundup. And he also notes that the pension issue is the key sticking point, and one that regardless of how it is resolved, is going to provide transit workers a deal that nearly every private sector employee would kill for.

Megan McArdle notes that most New Yorkers aren't sympathetic towards the strikers. The union workers make significantly more than the typical worker, and their benefits aren't nearly as good as those of the union workers.

At a press conference that's ongoing, the MTA and TWU have agreed to continue negotiations while the TWU has to begin returning to work. No timetable is being set. The MTA hasn't withdrawn its proposals, but is willing to look at other costs. The TWU is being requested to direct its membership to immediately return to work. The TWU has agreed. We'll see just how quickly that happens. A self-imposed media blackout will be imposed to facilitate a negotiated settlement. So, until the final deal is reached, no leaks on proposals, counter proposals, and talking points.

If the union assents to the framework set forth by the mediators and returns to work, the buses could be running by this evening, but the subways wouldn't be up and running fully until tomorrow' rush hour. A lot of this depends on the timing and whether the union agrees.

MyDD claims to have found a poll that shows that 71% of WWRL poll respondents thought that the MTA was to blame for the strike. WWRL is a left wing radio station in NYC. No wonder they support the union so heavily. All the other polling indicies show that the union is getting creamed in the court of public opinion. MyDD goes on to talk about the SurveyUSA poll but doens't show the full story. Here's the raw results of that SurveyUSA poll. The same poll says that 64% think that the union shouldn't have gone on strike and 46% think management was right (44% thought the union was right). The 12/20/2005 poll by the same polling organization found that 52% sided with the union, 40% with the MTA, and 8% undecided.

Posted to Basil's Blog, Jo's Cafe, Batesline, Outside the Beltway, and others to be updated as changes dictate.

Earlier coverage: 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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