New Yorkers Support the Transit Strike
by Scott Shields, Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 06:43:35 PM EST
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.