est. 1981

Don’t Fuck da Police; Fuck da T.W.U.

In Gripes, Life on December 21, 2005 at 1:09 am
As many of you already know, New York City is currently stuck in the middle of the first transit strike in a quarter century. The executive board of Local 100 of the Transit Workers Union, which represents 33,000 transit workers in New York, voted 28 to 10 in favor of a strike, and have since shut down the city’s entire public transportation system, thus leaving the seven million people who ride the subway and buses every day literally out in the cold.

There are a number of measures being implemented by the city to allow the strike to not completely disable the city, including closing certain streets to passenger vehicles and not allowing vehicles with less than four occupants into lower Manhattan during rush hour, but there is still a gaping hole in the plans: those of us without cars or money for cabs are S. O. L. Guess we better start walking.

The dispute is over a range of issues, main points of contention being that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) wants to increase the age of retirement for new employees that enter the system in the future, and give the current employees a 6 % annual raise, as opposed to the 8 % the TWU is demanding. There are many other small details that are being argued over, but the basic issue is the same one that the united states government is facing: the pension system cannot sustain itself at the current rate of input and timeline of participation. Not enough people are putting in too little money, and too many people are collecting money too soon.

Roger Toussaint, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, had this to say: “New Yorkers, this is a fight over whether hard work will be rewarded with a decent retirement. This is a fight over the erosion, or the eventual elimination, of health-benefits coverage for working people in New York. This is a fight over dignity and respect on the job, a concept that is very alien to the M.T.A… To our riders, we ask for your understanding and forbearance. We stood with you to keep token booths open, to keep conductors on the trains, to oppose fare hikes. We now ask that you stand with us. We did not want a strike, but evidently the M.T.A., the governor and the mayor did.”

First of all, I have little sympathy for people that are complaining about having to wait until they are 62 instead of 55 to retire, when they are keeping me from getting to my two jobs, neither of which offer me retirement benefits. Not to mention that they are complaining about having to increase the percentage points that they contribute from their salaries that start in the neighborhood of $38K, plus overtime, for sweeping subway platforms.

Second of all, I’d actually love to see some of that so-called dignity and respect. How about the next time I need to buy a single ride ticket and the vending machines aren’t taking cash OR credit cards? Maybe they could show me some respect by selling me a ticket.

Thirdly, I am offended by the implication that I have ever been on their side, especially when it comes to keeping ticket booths and conductors in place. I will happily lose ever conductor on every train in this city. With the frequency that I can’t even come close to understanding what they are saying over the speakers, or that they lock the doors between cars, or sleep in ticket booths, or shut elevator/train doors on your body, I won’t be missing them. Especially in the middle of the night when you could easily remove the second half of cars, thus fully eliminating the need for a conductor. And if we keep using those nifty trains that make the stop announcements themselves, we won’t need human interaction at all! A good thing, especially since they’re so bad at it.

And finally, fuck you and your accusations of the governor/mayor/MTA. It seemed pretty clear that none of them wanted a strike when it was declared illegal. What they didn’t want was to bend over and give you everything you demanded. As a matter of fact, you know what it’s usually called when you do something illegal/threatening to cause someone to give you something you want? Extortion. Or sometimes blackmail. You know, incase you missed that section of economics.

So here’s what I think: Fuck the TWU. I’m all for the ability of members of a union to strike to demonstrate to need that they satisfy as skilled laborers, but it’s a lot less cute when it’s not a bunch of singing, dancing paperboys. The point of a strike is to punish those who your demands are aimed at, not those that you serve. Yes, the MTA is losing money right now, but so is the city. The TWU hasn’t just inconvenienced everyone, they’ve incapacitated the city.

I actually hope that this goes on for a while. Because the longer it goes, the more likely it is that scabs will be hired. And while I am sure that the TWU will put up quite a fight about that, they won’t be able to stop the trains from running. Even if they stationed a portion of their 33000 members at every subway station in this city, 24 hours a day, they wouldn’t be able to stop the seven million people that need to get to work. I don’t care who’s driving my train, or refusing to sell me a metrocard, or mumbling incoherent stops: you could pay the scabs half what the TWU folks get, and they’d still me making more than I do an hour.

So fuck ‘em. I just want to get to work.

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