Live blogging the strike deadline
I can drive a bus
I'm watching New York 1 and they're only talking to white people, and thus are missing what is clear to me. In fact, it's driving me nuts.
Because they keep talking about respect issues as the union defines them as "backing down", and I see it as dangerous escalation. Why? Because when black people talk about respect, bad things can happen. I mean, dis was invented as a term regarding minor slights. And it was enough to get people killed.
So when Roger Toussaint stands in front or reporters and says "respect me", that's signalling that he's worked his last nerve. It's not some kind of concilatory move at all. Then, he mentioned his children. This is a sign that he and his members are really, really pissed
To me, this is signalling that the mayor and governor are about to be blindsided.
The condescending way that they have lectured the union is like pouring gas on a fire. Their finger wagging and yelling about the law, while accurate, is intimidation and ineffective intimidation at that.
If you watch the news reports, you see a lot of minority support for a potential strike, yet NY1 had eight whites, one woman, discussing this. They still act like New York hasn't changed and this isn't a majority minority city. They talk to their coworkers and friends, who are mostly white, and get the impression that people will turn on the TWU overnight and that isn't the case. Many people understand the issues here, and considering the number of minorities in city government, that understanding translates into support. They don't want to contribute to their health care either.
What the media doesn't seem to understand is that after so many union givebacks and settling for crap wages, Toussaint is going to get credit for fighting. Then, he gets extra credit for being a black man who doesn't bend when white men yell kneel. That is real political currency. And what they don't get is that the union, the minute it goes on strike, will get blanket support from minority politicians across the board. And that will put Bloomberg in an odd position. He just got elected on black votes. Now, he's going to face a great deal of anger.
The MTA has almost no credibility as a public agency. Even if the outlying years may lead to massive deficits, you can't trust their numbers.
Anyone who thinks working people want to strike over the holidays is insane.
Even though the TWU members can be a pain in the ass to deal with, the MTA is using the contract to play hardball and force a giveback that is unacceptable. While private sector workers can complain that they don't have those benefits, they also have the chance for bonuses and promotions based on merit and not tests. Public sector wages are lower, but in exchange, there is job security. What the MTA wants to do is remove that job security to cut costs instead of actually selling their valuable property at market value.
But I think Bloomberg and Pataki have acted abominally in this. They are quick to attack the workers, but not remind the MTA of their civic duty to prevent a strike as well. This is reckless in the extreme. Toussaint's duty is to his workers, and has demonstrated a concern for the riders. The MTA has done the opposite. They seem to think once a strike starts, the public will forget about their surplus and turn on the union.
The Daily News made that bet in 1990 and lost, badly. They thought that they could replace the workers with scabs and since reporters were relatively high wage workers, that people wouldn't care. They realized different when Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were standing in the middle of 42nd St with a mass worker rally. They had bet wrong and lost behind it.
The MTA and the media are making the same bet. But what they miss is that many people know if the TWU gives up, their unions will as well. No one wants to miss work, but the recklessness of pushing the city's most militant union to strike is insane. Make no mistake, there will be no contingency plan which works. You will not be going to work. There is no replacement for the tranist system. This should have been settled before the holiday season. The fact that the MTA couldn't push off the pension negotiations is to their shame.
It is wrong that the media is placing the onus of a strike on the union. The fact is that the city has dragged out negotiations for years, so has the MTA. Why should the TWU work for years for a contract? The MTA shows they will drag negotations out for years.
Oh yeah, to all the assclowns, mostly office workers who have no clue, Pataki can't fire the workers. Because the feds require licenses and training to drive a city bus. The MTA has a waiting list for those jobs, union jobs. So no contract, no work.
posted by Steve @ 9:39:00 PM