New Yorkers Support the Transit Strike

I've been pretty surprised and somewhat disappointed by the hostility among some here to the striking transit workers in New York City. To be fair, the strike is illegal. It is unfortunately timed. It is incredibly hard on other workers in the city. However, is it wrong? Obviously, I don't think so. The Taylor Law, which makes strikes by public employees illegal, is a poor piece of legislation. I'm not against certain limits on strikes by public employees, but striking is quite frankly the only power labor unions have.

In speaking to a few people who actually live in the city and are dealing with this strike, I've been equally surprised and somewhat relieved at the level of support -- obviously somewhat tempered by sore feet and cold appendages -- for the striking Transport Workers Union. One could easily chalk that up to me knowing a higher-than-average number of pro-labor New Yorkers. That was my first thought. But it seems that the support for the strike is much more widespread than I expected.

David Hinckley of the Daily News reported not on the strike itself, but on the fact that local radio became the hub for communication regarding the strike. He notes that anger at the striking workers was unavoidable, especially on right-wing WABC radio. But it wasn't actually the majority viewpoint.

As the transit strike tied knots around the city yesterday, local radio became both information central and an opinion forum that suggested annoyance with the inconvenience and yet considerable support for the transit workers.
. . .
In a WWRL poll, 71% of respondents blamed the MTA and only 14% blamed the transit workers, which Bishop said he found "a little surprising. I would have thought it would have been more even."

Almost every station that took calls found support for the transit workers. "I've used the transit system for years," said Margaret, a caller to WOR, "and I've talked with many workers about the horrible conditions. We need to support them."

"Perhaps surprisingly, there's a lot of support for the strike," said WOR news director Joe Bartlett. He suggested residents were coping with the strike "because this is a city that doesn't cave under pressure. New Yorkers thrive on adversity."

But that's all opinion, right? Talk radio callers are, by definition, motivated activists. I guess the WWRL poll is a verifiable number, but the 71% blame for the MTA doesn't necessarily translate into support for the workers. It's possible to blame the MTA and still not support the strike. The local ABC television affiliate commissioned Survey USA to ask the right question -- which side are you on?.

Our Ken Rosato reported at Noontime that Toussaint quoted from an Eyewitness News survey USA poll of 800 people in the area. It showed that 52 percent of the people say they were on the side of the Transport Workers Union. It said only 40 percent said they supported the MTA.

The specifics of the poll couldn't be more simple. "In the transit strike ... whose side are you on? Union? Or Management?" While 8% were unsure, 52% support the TWU and 40% support the MTA. Based on the overwhelmingly anti-strike local media coverage, I would have said that it would have been good news if the strike had garnered 35% support. So 52% is an amazing testimony to the support for labor rights among New Yorkers.

If you still do not support this strike on the merits, that's perfectly acceptable. However, in my mind, it's awfully hard to argue with New York City commuters, who are the ones dealing with this strike literally at the street level.

Tags: Labor (all tags)

Comments

61 Comments

Reminds me of a song
Which Side Are You On? - that's the dropkick murphys cover; it's actually pretty old.
by ItsDrewMiller 2005-12-21 06:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Reminds me of a song
New Pornographers, Propagandhi, Dropkick Murphys...

Drew, you seriously need to do more music blogging. Yours could quickly and easily become one of my favorite MP3 blogs.

by Scott Shields 2005-12-21 07:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Reminds me of a song
Thanks!  Good to see more people dig the punk with the indie.  =)
by ItsDrewMiller 2005-12-21 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Reminds me of a song
Billy Bragg did a song similarly called Which Side are you On?

I believe both Bragg and the Murphy's are singing versions of a much older song, though.

by Flynnieous 2005-12-22 03:25AM | 0 recs
The Taylor Law is a good law
Certain groups should not be allowed to strike because it puts the citizens in danger. This includes, police, firemen, air traffic controllers, and transit workers. Millions of New Yorkers had to walk home in the cold, some are old and could die from the cold. I don't blame Spitzer or Bloomberg for the actions they took, it was necessary
by SensibleDemocrat 2005-12-21 07:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
"Some are old and could die from the cold..."  

Isn't that kind of hyperbole a bit over the top?  Transit workers shouldn't be able to join together and demand better pay and conditions because, uh, someone might die.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

Here's why I support the transit workers:  because I want a raise too.  And decent health care.  And I'd like to retire some day with something more than the President's proposed social security deforms.

I'm with the workers because I am a worker.

by Steve Hill 2005-12-21 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
Let me add to this.  I'm with the workers because:

  • Productivity has skyrocketed over the last twenty years, while workers have been squeezed from every angle
  • I saw an article in which I learned that a very large percentage of workers forgo their earned vacation time because they don't want to give management a reason to fire them
  • The wealthiest amonst us are capital investors and their gaines have been huge - but as I said earlier - the workers making their investments pay off have been screwed over and over again
  • I've worked at the highest levels of corporate america - I've seen executives treated like royalty - from the limos that pick them up in the morning, to the food that is catered to their offices, to the 5 star accomodations they use when traveling, to the elite events they attend in their cororate sky-boxes...  and I've seen workers in the same building without health insurance

The only thing I really don't understand is why the other NYC unions aren't showing some solidarity.  NYC could be a catalyst if the rest of the organized workers joined the strike - even in symbolic ways.  The PD could refuse overtime.  Doormen could show up 1/2 an hour late.  Hotel workers could take a sick day.  

What this country needs (amongst so much else) is a real discussion about the decline of the worker.  All this shit about offshoring jobs pales in comparison to what we have done to the workers that get up in the morning every day, do a solid days work, and get chumped by management over and over again through the years.  Workers have become conditioned to being fucked - witness the vacation story referenced above (you do the search - it's out there)...

Anyway.  Count me as one more NYer that supports the strike.

by Mike Stark 2005-12-21 07:26PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
When TWU announced the strike, the heads of the teachers' union, the building maintenance union, and the police union were all there in solidarity. Pat Lynch of the police union said that the police officers "while on the other side of the barriers now are with you in their hearts." It would be nice if the media did a better job of reporting the fact that the teachers and cops support the transit workers.
by Scott Shields 2005-12-21 07:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
unlikely to happen- they have a narrative that they are going with and facts aren't crucial to it
by bruh21 2005-12-21 07:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
Count me as one more NYer that supports the strike.

And me.

I had to walk about a mile total and take the East River water taxi and the PATH train today.  But the TWU are doing what they have to do.

What angers me are people who say, "I don't even have a pension.  Why should the transit workers get one at age 55?"

That is the mentality of sheep -- of servants who have been conditioned to love being kicked around, and to pull down any one who tries to demand better.  It's a slave mentality, frankly.

No, most of us don't have pensions.  My company (a large specialty publishing and information firm) stopped giving its workers pensions a few years before I started there.  So because corporate (and government) America is shafting many of its workers, all the others should get the shaft too?

Being a transit worker can involve dangerous, filthy, deafening conditions, hostile customers, and long and grueling hours.  Retiring at 55 is not unreasonable.

Oh, and the MTA would have the cash to meet its pension obligations if Pataki and co. in Albany hadn't been raiding the budget for the last several years.

by Maximus 2005-12-21 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
What angers me are people who say, "I don't even have a pension.  Why should the transit workers get one at age 55?"

That is the mentality of sheep -- of servants who have been conditioned to love being kicked around, and to pull down any one who tries to demand better.  It's a slave mentality, frankly.

Wow, this really cuts to the point. Essentially, they're saying my job sucks, so everyone else's should suck, too. It's been stunning to hear such anti-union garbage from supposed progresives.

by Scott Shields 2005-12-21 08:28PM | 0 recs
Join a union!
What angers me are people who say, "I don't even have a pension.  Why should the transit workers get one at age 55?"

As Dave points out at Seeing the Forest, these people should join a union:

If that hasn't dawned on you yet then maybe you aren't smart enough to make a better living.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-23 01:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
I think the Unions in this country are responsible for building the middle class.

If you're so concerned about old people that could freeze, pressure the mta not the unions.  They live 10 yrs less than the typical person because their jobs are so difficult. All these people who claim to care about the poor, don't care at all that the working class and poor can't afford to live in New York City anymore.  Why do you think so many port authority workers were living in New Jersey on 9/11. This is a self serving complaint. "OH, my underpaid maid can't afford a cab to scrub my toilet!"

by Dameocrat 2005-12-22 03:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
Hey,
 other unions did show support. They were overwhelmingly in support of the strike and were at all the rallies leading up to it: PSC, SEIU,and others were very visibly out in support on the picket lines, which all of our unions attended. Unfortunately, because the strike was a surprise to most of us, most unions - including the TWU - were not ready with an on-the-ground 'educate the public" solidarity campaign.
 
by redbecca 2005-12-23 04:16AM | 0 recs
Hyperbole?
You gotta be kidding me. Are you saying the poor won't suffer? They got no options. I got no sympathy for the stockbrokers who take the subway from their pad in Manhattan. But, what about the old lady who can't walk in the cold and who needs her job for day to day sustenance?  For some homeless, a ride in the subway is their only source for heat. You think all the shelters will accommodate the sudden rush now? The MTA strikers are accountable to NYers and no one else. If the vast majority of poor and middle class NYers are indeed OK with this strike, then what I say really has no bearing on this strike.

I really see no reason why they couldn't do a flash one day strike to give the NYers a taste of what's to come and then as a goodwill gesture agree to work until the weather gets bearable or enought time for the general populace to think of alternatives and then go for an indefinite strike if negotiations don't get better.  I think Renee in Ohio's diary makes a good point on the fat in the MTA management. What I object to is the timing of this strike. They will  still have leverage because a strike at any time will inconvenience the city. Just don't go over the top by insisting on doing it now, right during the middle of the winter. MTA management may suck, but the drivers still serve the public on its own dime and the MTA employees do get slack in their work performance. It's not like they are held to private corporation standards. So they should be a little flexible with the timing.

I worked at UPS when they had that major strike around 1997. Even after the deadline  expired, the unions gave extensions to find a way to keep working while negotiating.

FWIW, I do fault the MTA management primarily for this crisis. I do find the NY law over the top. You gotta let the employees strike, otherwise you give them no leverage at all.  I don't see why MTA management is not running a barebones skeletal crew to transport the really desperate passengers who are willing to bear the long wait lines for a train. UPS management did that when the drivers went on strike.

by Pravin 2005-12-22 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Hyperbole?
"Are you saying the poor won't suffer? They got no options."

Yes, and they also need the lower prices that Wal-Mart offers.

by davej 2005-12-22 07:42AM | 0 recs
Cute but not quite
There is a big difference between taking the subway and walking for miles in the cold versus shopping at Walmart versus KMart or even Target.
by Pravin 2005-12-22 11:15AM | 0 recs
I agree with this
And it looks like this turned into a quickie flash strike, which is good.  The strike is over (for now).

http://today.reuters.com/investing/financeArticle.aspx?type=bondsNews&storyID=URI:urn:newsml:reu ters.com:20051222:MTFH43155_2005-12-22_16-38-52_N22322324:1

by Geotpf 2005-12-22 07:59AM | 0 recs
Beware of the Naked Man
Old lady lost in the city
In the middle of a cold, cold night
It was fourteen below and the wind start to blow
There wasn't a boy scout in sight

Pull down the shades 'cause he's comin'
Turn out the lights, 'cause he's here
Running hard down the street
Through the snow and the sleet
On the coldest night of the year.

Beware, beware, beware, of the Naked Man.

Old Lady lean against a lamppost
Starin' down at the ground on which she stands
She look up and scream
For in the lamplight's beam
There stood the Naked Man...

He faked to the left and faked to the right.
And he snatched the purse from her hand.
"Someone stop me," he cried,
As he faded from sight,
"Won't nobody help a naked man?  Won't nobody help a naked man?"

I dunno, it just seemed appropriate.  Thanks, Randy.

by edsdet 2005-12-22 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
I don't blame Spitzer. He's the AG and has to uphold the laws. It's a bad situation for him politically, but it's the reality. Bloomberg's rabid attacks on the union have been ridiculous, though. I don't even see how you can put the two in the same sentence.

The Taylor Law is not a good law. Like I said, restrictions on strikes by public employee unions make sense. But the Taylor Law outlaws them outright. It doesn't force the employers to hold to any timeline in negotiations, so they can stretch out negotiations as long as they want. It's unfairly skewed to the employer's side and should be reformed.

But if you really think the Taylor Law is a good law as it exists, what you're saying is that you don't believe that unionized workers should have any tools at their disposal to hold employers' feet to the fire in contract negotiations. And that would mean that you don't believe in organized labor. It's that simple.

by Scott Shields 2005-12-21 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
I believe in organized labor and unions to strike but not when these strikes could hurt the citizens.
by SensibleDemocrat 2005-12-21 07:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
What does that even mean? And how does that account for a badly structured law?
by bruh21 2005-12-21 07:44PM | 0 recs
The Taylor Law is a terrible law
That's a ridiculous comment.  All stikes hurt people.  That's the entire point. If a strike did not hurt someone, then the use of a strike as a bargining tactic would be nil.  What you're basically saying is that you support the right to strike as long as people don't strike.

Look, there is no way for the TWU to bring the MTA to the table.  The MTA doesn't have to give them a contract.  The MTA doesn't have to do dick.  They can sit back, play games with the union, and try to force them into accepting an offer that is going to break the union.  And if the union doesn't strike, that is exactly what is going to happen.  The union will break.

by crimsonc 2005-12-21 07:52PM | 0 recs
It's impressive
It's impressive to see a union able to bring this great city almost to a halt.  As much as it has inconvenienced me personally, I feel heartened to know that workers, organizing independently, still have this much power.

When I've seen interviews with transit workers, most of them are wholeheartedly behind the strike.  Others say, "I wish our leadership had stayed at the bargaining table a little longer."  But they also say, "We elected them to fight for us, and they're doing what they need to do -- and we support them."

This is what organized labor is all about: putting your trust in your fellow workers to fight for all of us.  Is it inconvenient for average New Yorkers?  Sure.  It's even more inconvenient for transit workers who are being docked 2 days' pay for each 1 day they're off the job.  

They are sacrificing... for the idea that things SHOULDN'T get gradually worse and worse for each new generation of workers.  Roger Toussaint said, "We will not give up our unborn."  That is a noble principle, and I applaud the TWU for standing up for it.

by Maximus 2005-12-21 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a terrible law
THere is such thing as timing.  A strike a couple of months later will still bring the city to a halt. You want to inconvenience people, not hold them hostage.
by Pravin 2005-12-22 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a terrible law
"THere is such thing as timing.  A strike a couple of months later will still bring the city to a halt. You want to inconvenience people, not hold them hostage."

I agree completely!  The management should all be immediately replaced for giving the workers no choice but to strike!

by davej 2005-12-22 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a terrible law
I know it was sarcasm, but I actually agree that MTA management needs to be pared down. despite my changing views on the appropriateness of the strike at this time, I have always maintained the MTA management should bear the brunt of the public ire.
by Pravin 2005-12-22 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
I believe in organized labor and unions to strike but not when these strikes could hurt the citizens.

What you really believe is that unions should not have the right to strike when their striikes could hurt the bottom line of their employers. The only citizens you are concerned about are shareholders and CEOs.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-22 02:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
Come on. A lot of us are trying to find a way to come up with our opinions here by learning from other mydd members. You are making assumptions of what SensibleDemocrat thinks based on a very broad statement he made which is a little sloppy in the way it he conveys what he feels(I can identify with him because sometimes I wish I had an edit option when I read a post I wrote a few hours later and feel I could express my view better). Still, I see no indication he is siding with MTA management on that. When he says hurt, I think he means it in an extreme sense versus a mere  inconvenience. He probably means a strike which leaves some citizens with no options at all versus fewer options ( a rich stockbroker can hire a taxi or afford to take days off while some arthritic middle class person may find the next few days unbearable) should be avoided as much as possible. Now if you disagree with that, that's fine. No need to get personal with him. There is a lot of disinformation in the mainstream media about this strike. Smugness here won't help counter that.  
by Pravin 2005-12-22 07:05AM | 0 recs
I'm calling Bullshit!
Sensible liberal is a bonehead troll and I can't believe you're too ignorant to see that. It's also a good idea not to butt in to other people's fights. If Sensible liberal has a bone to pick with me, then Sensible liberal is perfectly within his or her right to pick away.

You, on the other hand, can go fuck yourself. How's that for smugness?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-12-22 07:32AM | 0 recs
Rude and Self Righteous
I am really sick of self righteous people like Gary Boatright who don't live in NYC speaking out like experts on the city and the strike.  

As an NYC resident, I support the strike but people need to be realistic about who is being impacted by it - the working class.  Transit strikes are by their very nature designed to inflict pain on the middle class since they depend on it.  The rich are inconvenienced, the working class hurt severly and some will not be able to pay their bills b/c of it.  

Scott Shields gets it and acknowledges it.  Why don't you?

by John Mills 2005-12-22 08:32AM | 0 recs
One can say you were butting in
I see. you can be judgemental about everyone else, but you can't stand it when someone tells you that you are less than a God. I have a right to comment on your treatment of a fellow mydder because you have become a regular problem on these boards. Unlike you, I have been able to separate your good posts from your inane ones. I have even posted some good comments on your diaries despite your attacks on me and other mydders.  You seem to be a bitter man. You are almost as bad as the right wingers who are so sure of their place in the world and the righteousness of their opinions.

You are the idiot (I dont mind returning the namecalling even if I won't initiate it in most cases) who made a mischaracterized what SensibleDemocrat was saying. And you just strike back like a rightwinger when someone points that out.

by Pravin 2005-12-22 10:43AM | 0 recs
Who is the real TROLL?
Just because you happen to put up better posts than some on topics like Dean and the war doesn't mean you are not a sorry excuse for a human being. I don't care about my ratings that much as it's only a blog rating and not some GPA at a college. If I ever get a 1, I take it in the spirit of free expression and don't honestly get offended. But when I checked my comments history today, I noticed a string of 1s. It didn't make sense as my rated responses were not on the same issue. I knew right away it had to be you Gary and when I checked your rating, I noticed that you blindly went and just indiscrimnately troll rated me on the last few posts regardless of content and you did all this in one setting because I pissed you off. You did the same thing for another MyDDer and I was curious to see if he was some DLC apologist. But no, he was actually supporting Dean in a post and you troll rated that too.

By rating and responding to people based on personal spite on several occasions, you are being more of a troll than any right winger who comes by here. Instead of the discussion being given the paramount importance, you seem to put a big deal of effort into extending personal conflicts - the hallmark of a troll. I never interrupt your discussions with my personal rants because if I see something I like in your diaries, then I will contribute to the diary in a positive way or keep quiet. What a sorry excuse for a human being you are. I cringe when I think that an idiot like you is on our side.  It's time you got a life, or maybe even a job(considering you spend more time than a few of us combined on these blogs, I can't see how you can put an honest day's work in real life).

by Pravin 2005-12-23 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
The idea behind laws that bar workers in vital public services from striking is supposed to be that in exchange the employer (the state) doesn't play hardball at the bargaining table.  Public sector bargaining sessions are usually a lot tamer than in the private sector.  The custom isn't codified, but it's the general understanding of both parties.

When you're dealing with a public-private partnership like the MTA, though, things get more complicated.  The union doesn't have the same kind of direct political leverage over them as they would over a real public employer, and yet they're expected to abide by a law that completely undercuts members' leverage.  The MTA has chosen to bargain in bad faith like any other corporate employer.  The union has every right to play just as hard, in my opinion, whether the courts and statutes recognize it or not.

by Woodhouse 2005-12-22 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
I think you miss the point. Something can be a good idea that when poorly excuted become a bad one. The Taylor law is bad because it allows a corrupted organization  like MTA to not negotiate in bad faith. There should be some method other than binding arbitration to allow the situation to be resulved so that the union members can feel that their interests have been fairly adjudicated and protected.

And, you cut verbatim what you just wrote from the other diary. I get the feeling you are acting knee jerk, and not responding to the specific crtique.

Finally, I live Brooklyn, and work in Manhattan. I am corp America as a lawyer, and I have to trek 2.5 hours each way to get to and from work when I usually only had to travel 40 minutes. I support the strike for reason I state else where. And as for that silliness about the old dying for the cold- clearly you don't live in NYC. The old  and sick can use Public Access vans that go to all 5 boroughs that have not been affected by the strike. In fact, it's a better service than MTA because it's door to door. even with MTA in place they would have to trek to where ever the stations are or the bus stop is.

by bruh21 2005-12-21 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
sorry for the typos
by bruh21 2005-12-21 07:45PM | 0 recs
Public Access Vans
That's good to hear. I stayed a few summers on Long Island and had no clue that these vans were common in the city. I am getting a better picture of what's going on reading these posts.

So how do these vans work. Do they serve all the poor and middle class sections of the city?

by Pravin 2005-12-22 07:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
I disagree that the Taylor Law is a good law.  As a Philadelphia native who moved to NYC, I have seen transit strikes by SEPTA in Philadelphia.  I have seen strikes by the trash collectors.  Guess what the city survived.  

The FDNY has had firehouses closed all over NYC. But I guess they should just accept being downsized.  After all it is just Firemen right?

The NYPD was (is?) without a contract when the mayor brought the RNC to town which forced the NYPD to work overtime and had to refuse previously authorized vacation time because they needed the workers.  In an NY1 interview with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly he states that starting NYPD salaries have not been as low as they are now since 1986.  

The UFT (teachers) went two and half years without a contract, until Bloomberg found it beneficial to resolve that prior the the elections this fall.  link

The Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics Union has been without a contract for 40 months, and this NY Daily News article talks about the possibility of them striking.

I realize any of these groups striking has negative implications, and sucks for NYC residents like myself, but how many more public service unions does the city need to deny contracts to before we open our eyes.  How long should each of these groups go or have gone without contracts hoping the city or state wakes up one morning and decides to be nice?  

by jonahinnyc 2005-12-22 04:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
"Certain groups should not be allowed to strike because it puts the citizens in danger. This includes, police, firemen, air traffic controllers, and transit workers. Millions of New Yorkers had to walk home in the cold, some are old and could die from the cold. I don't blame Spitzer or Bloomberg for the actions they took, it was necessary"

People ought to give those people rides. And from what I hear they are. It's immoral for management to exploit the prohibition against striking--if the service is essential then the city ought to treat the workers fairly.

Keith

by keith johnson 2005-12-22 05:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
Buy a good pair of boots and good coat.

Problem solved.

Thats what people that WORK outside this time of the year do.

by Beelzebud 2005-12-22 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The Taylor Law is a good law
Police and firemen I dig. I can even see the argument for lumping air traffic controllers in there, though I don't agree with it. (The airlines don't have to fly.) But transit workers?!? Gimme a break!

What Tom Tomorrow has to say about people like you is all that really needs to be said.

by Mathwiz 2005-12-22 10:46AM | 0 recs
in the 10 minutes
I watched News 12 today they showed a 30 second clip of striking workers and every car that drove by was giving them support....all together about 10 to 15 cars.  And these were people that had to sit in long lines to get over the bridges and through the tunnels.
by goplies 2005-12-21 07:56PM | 0 recs
They are reporting on the news
that something is going on in terms of a possible deal
by bruh21 2005-12-21 07:57PM | 0 recs
As a New Yorker...
I know that the transit employees are ordinary, working-class people just trying to make ends meet.  I know the economy has been hard on everyone who works for a living, but these are people who are just trying to earn a fair wage for a hard day's work.  They are the backbone of this city, and the MTA has a duty to provide them with adequate compensation for the vital job they perform.

You have these transit workers, people earning $20,000 or $30,000 a year, and they're being denied a fair wage by city bureaucrats earning $70,000, $80,000, $100,000 a year...it's shameful.

And to see these wealthy Republicans like Bloomberg and Pataki come out and denounce these workers--these people who are exercising their basic right as Americans to strike, who are just trying to make ends meet and put food on their tables--it burns me up.  Once again, it's the wealthy Republicans at the top versus the working-class Americans trying to earn a fair wage.

Yeah, this is a big inconveiniance.  But I blame the city bureaucrats, not the transit workers. They haven't gone on strike in 25 years, and for each day they strike, the lose two days' pay; you know they wouldn't strike unless they had to.  

I back the transit workers 100%.  I'll walk in the cold if it means tens of thousands of working-class New Yorkers get a fair deal from the city.

by Neimad 2005-12-21 08:24PM | 0 recs
Media Coverage
Good to see poll numbers, the media coverage here is horribly biased against the TWU but I knew New Yorkers supported their unions and this demonstrates it!

It's on the news now that talks are started again, sure this polling is going to push the MTA a little!

by epv72 2005-12-22 04:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Media Coverage
I agree with you the media coverage has been awful. I find the debates here enlightening. I am beginning to be more sympathetic to the strikers over the last two days even if I am still struggling to be OK with the timing.

Let's educate each other without getting personal.

by Pravin 2005-12-22 06:41AM | 0 recs
Other Unions
CUNY's faculty and much of its staff have also been working for years without a contract, and they're having the same problems moving the administration and power brokers in NYC and Albany to finalize a deal.  

Having a homogenous press corps really makes it difficult for the average transit-using NY'er to appreciate why the union's doing this.  I put one union demand to a coworker this way: "In our office, we have access to a clean, heated, functioning bathroom any time we feel like it. Transit workers (20% of whom are women) often have to use cold, partially-functioning, seldom-cleaned bathrooms during their shifts, when they can manage the time.  Heck, some bus drivers go 4+ hours without managing a break!"

by justsomeNYCguy 2005-12-22 05:36AM | 0 recs
Labor vs capital
One thing to notice in all the strike discussion is that for many people this strike is the first one they have ever experienced. The last transit strike in NYC was 25 years ago, so many were not in the workforce then.

Other strikes that have occurred are usually at some specific factory in the midwest and the work stoppage doesn't affect, and isn't seen by, anyone out of the region. In point of fact people, when polled, usually state they would like to join a union if given the chance. The positive number is about 70%. The news media seldom gives much time to  airing the worker's viewpoint thus leaving the impression that labor support is smaller than in reality.

As for the disparity in wealth between the working class and the owning class in the US, I gathered these statistics (with charts):
Debt vs Wealth

The bottom line is that the workers have stagnated or had a drop in standard of living over the past several decades compared with the super rich.

The libertarian arguments about the workers earning too much, or not working hard enough, or union corruption just boggle the mind. Coming from a group that claims that each person should be free to maximize their wealth it is the height of hypocrisy.

Lastly, if a person is not free to withhold their labor they are commonly called a slave. It wasn't too long ago that all strikes in the US were "illegal". There is no reason for the Taylor Law and the workers didn't "agree" to it as part of a contractural relationship. They were coerced.

by rdf 2005-12-22 05:41AM | 0 recs
Acknowledging Hardship on Working NYers
Scott - thanks for acknowledging that this strike is taking a tremendous toll on working NYers.  I generally support what the TWU is doing but have been appalled by many of the posts here and on Daily Kos depicting this as a David v Golliath fight while ignoring the fact that the rich in NYC are largely unaffected by the strike.  

Transit strikes by their nature are different from strikes against corporations where you inflict pain on corp execs and stockholders. The idea of a transit strike is to inflict pain on the populace as a whole until they put enough pressure on elected officials to settle it.  The working class generally gets hammered.

To put this in perspective, think about a person living in the Bronx who has had their commuting costs rise from $2 to $20 one way to work which is what cabs and car services are charging during this strike.  To a wealthy Manhattanite, the strike is an annoyance and the extra cost means you go out to dinner less.  To a working class person that $10 per day adds up fast and may mean the difference b/w making a bill payment and missing it.

I am not opposed to the strike but I wish people in blogosphere would stop referring this as the great fight for justice.  It's not - real people are being hurt badly in the collateral damage.  This fight is more like David v David with Golliath laughing on the side.

by John Mills 2005-12-22 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Acknowledging Hardship on Working NYers
Dont worry mets. Some of us do acknowledge the two sides on the issue (the workers vs the population. I dont consider the management's feelings in this). The majority of us are not crazed ideologues.

I agree with you. It is not a simplistic topic to make grandiose statements about as some of the mydders have been doing so. Hell, I have been changing my mind a little bit after reading other diaries and comments here.

by Pravin 2005-12-22 10:48AM | 0 recs
Hardship. Exactamundo.
I don't live in NY.  Let's make that clear.  But the sad fact is that in this age the only leverage unions have is to shut down operations of a City like NY.  Since unions have been so fragmented in the private sector, smaller isolated industrial and service strikes have almost no impact and hence lend little pressure for managers to settle.
In other industrialized nations whole sectors walk out in sympathy for unions and things get sorted out quickly.  Where else but in a public service strike would a union seek to force a fair settlement?  If it had no impact on daily life in the city, and considering the lack of an appreciation of what unions stood for in the last century, do you think they'd have any power to collectively bargain?  People aren't laughing, are they?  It's only serious if you can't lead a normal existence with things you take for granted.
by edsdet 2005-12-22 03:57PM | 0 recs
Bad Math
$20-$2 is $18, not $10, so it is costing people $18 per day.  Sorry.
by John Mills 2005-12-22 05:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Bad Math, Try $53.
One of the janitors on the floor of my office, pays 20 bucks in the morning to come into manhattan, and 35 at night to get back to queens.(using the cabs) 35+20-2=53. The guy has two kids, the strike is killing people who can least afford it.  
by NJDEM1 2005-12-22 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Bad Math, Try $53.
There asre janitor unions forming in many cities.  Let your friend know.
by davej 2005-12-22 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Bad Math, Try $53.
Even with a union, $53 a day is a lot to commute to and from work.
by John Mills 2005-12-22 07:55AM | 0 recs
Only Two Choices
Of course no one is going to support the MTA, the MTA is crazy and corrupt.  They've always been unpopular.  If given only the two choices between the two, more people would be inclined to say the union. I'm sure there would be a different outcome if the question was, "Do you agree with the TWU going on strike?".
by NJDEM1 2005-12-22 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Only Two Choices
If people are having to choose between the MTA or the union, they tend to pick the union because the MTA is hated in NYC.  It doesn't mean people support the strike.  If, as the earlier poster said, a question was simply, do you support the strike, I'm guessing the No's would be over 50%.
by alhill 2005-12-22 06:24AM | 0 recs
Power to Strike isn't the only power
This is a bit of a tangent, but I think Scott needs to be aware that Unions have many strengths besides just the power to strike.  That's the "ultimate" power, but by no means the only one.  Ask the California Nurses Association about their power to defeat Ahnold at the polls this year, and you see what I mean.  Corporate Campaigns, Legislative Campaigns, GOTV - all of these tactics have inherent power in them.

And keep in mind that the power to strike is a double edged sword - this strike will have a dramatic financial impact on the city government, the workers, and the people of New York generally.  Study after study shows that strikes have nothing but a negative short-term and medium term impact on all the parties involved.  The real benefit comes much later when the threat of a strike during the next round of bargaining causes the parties to reach an agreement to avoid the disaster of the earlier strike.  That has always been the real benefit of strikes.  Anyone living through a strike knows that - financially speaking - it's a raw deal.  But the ultimate payoff down the road makes it more than worth it.

by GreenlaborMike 2005-12-22 06:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Working people DO NOT support coddled unions
First, it was in the post, and second, how do we know it wasn't "freeped?"
by telephasic 2005-12-22 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Working people DO NOT support coddled unions
In my anecdotal experience, backed by polls, working NYers did support the strike: Blacks and Latinos, over-rep'd in the working-class and poor of NY overwhelmingly supported the strike while whites did not. "two cities"
by redbecca 2005-12-23 04:20AM | 0 recs
Re: New Yorkers Support the Transit Strike

Why is wrong to desire to live a better life? Maybe they want to afford a canal boat holiday for their children or maybe for themselves... Now you tell me: what is wrong with that?

by tiberiu 2008-02-14 07:21AM | 0 recs

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