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Comments by YACCS
Monday, December 12, 2005

Blame the workers

TWU members

This Daily News editorial is amazingly full of shit, but amused me

TWU's striking lack of smarts


Union President Roger Toussaint says he's prepared to lead the city's 33,000 transit workers out on strike Friday, and they've given him the go-ahead to shut New York down. This is self-destructiveness writ large.

Mistaking militancy for smarts, Toussaint seems bent on leading his members into a dead end. He fires them up by calling the Metropolitan Transportation Authority an "evil empire," accusing the agency of callousness in the death of a track worker, and demanding 8% annual raises. Such fire-breathing plays well in the union hall, but Toussaint's rank and file will be lucky if their checks keep pace with inflation under his leadership.

The MTA cannot afford raises at the level Toussaint is proposing - unless the TWU agrees to finance them through productivity savings. But steeped in negotiating by holding New York hostage, Toussaint tries to bully rather than to engage in discussions that would produce big dividends for both his members and the riding public.

The MTA put some forward-looking ideas on the table last week, only to have them denounced as an insulting declaration of war. While the package was not as progressive as we had hoped, it was a reasonable opening bid that should have brought Toussaint to the table rather than the battlements.

The agency proposed 5% wage hikes over two years, provided that TWU members cut their average sick days from about 13 a year to 12, hardly a burden. And, going broke under skyrocketing health and pension costs, the MTA asked for modest co-payments on medical bills and cost savings on the pensions of new employees. Fresh recruits would have to contribute 3% of their salary to their pensions and retire at 62 instead of 55.

Importantly, the agency gave the TWU an avenue to far bigger wage increases, offering to split productivity savings with the workforce. But Toussaint would have to engage in constructive dialogue rather than gun-to-the-head brinkmanship that goes nowhere.

But in this world, the MTA is blameless.

Why should the workers settle for a 5 percent raise, over two years, conditional on people working while sick. Remember, cops have unlimited sick leave and no one complains. But the largely black and latino workers are supposed to get sick less, and pick shit up as part of their jobs, for a minimal raise.

Why should the TWU agree to have a two-tired employee system because that's the rage on Wall Street.

The MTA had a massive rebate program going into these negotiations, and then offer the workers not only paltry wage increases.

The TWU wants their workers to retire at 50, the MTA at 62. The office workers at the Daily News have no idea what it's like to work in winter in a train yard. Because they're asking people to do physical labor in their 60's. Cops get to retire at 40.

Now, no one is saying that cops and transit workers share the same risks, but clearly, the largely white unions in this city get some consideration largely black unions don't. The numbers the MTA put on the table is a joke and the DN wants the workers to shut up and take their gruel, but don't say that they would take a financial bath if there was a transit strike. They need people to shop like everyone else.

The MTA will make a deal because they have no choice. The union can afford a strike a more than the always hated MTA.

posted by Steve @ 9:43:00 AM

9:43:00 AM

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