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Comments by YACCS
Friday, December 16, 2005

There is no reason for this

Please keep working

TWU calls for partial strike


December 16, 2005, 9:35 AM EST

The New York City transit union called for a strike Friday against two private bus lines after a night of intense bargaining failed to produce a deal -- a development that does not appear to immediately affect the subways that shuttle millions of people each day.

The union delayed a decision on a citywide strike until at least 12:01 a.m Tuesday, saying it was prepared to continue MTA negotiations.

The move escalates the pressure on the MTA by starting with two private bus lines that are in the process of being taken over by the transit agency. The strike could eventually extend to the subway system.

The bus lines affected by the strike -- the Triboro Coach lines and Jamaica buses -- serve areas mainly in Queens that have limited public transit options. About 50,000 riders are served by the lines daily. The action covers 217 employees at Jamaica Buses and 490 at Triboro Coaches.

Toussaint said these two bus lines were chosen first for a strike because their workers have been without a contract for three years. Another reason is that they may not be affected by the state Taylor law making a strike illegal, as they will be considered private lines until an MTA takeover is completed in late January to early February 2006.

Jarrod Bernstein, an Office of Emergency Management spokesman, said the city is implementing part of its contingency plan in the areas affected by the strike. That means licensed commuter vans and other vehicles will pick up people who are losing bus service.

Roger Toussaint, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, made the announcement after union leaders rejected the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's latest contract offer.

"The MTA has through its actions and inaction provoked our members too many times. We have been left with no choice," Toussaint said. "We tried to bargain with the MTA. We negotiated well past our contract deadline because we wanted to get a deal done and we still do."
The Union does not want a strike a week before Christmas, they have done everything reasonable to make a deal, but the MTA, which has zero credibility, doesn't seem to want to deal in good faith.

When Nicole Gelinas, the Mannahattan Institute's "transportation expert", who's probably never seen a dead rat, much less clean one up, talks about reasonable increases, she acts as if blue collar workers are in the middle class by accident and really don't dese4rve to be there. Someone should drag her pampered ass on an eight hour cleaners shift and see how much she likes it. Conservatives are great at telling other people they should be greatful for the miserable tasks they perform. Clean shit, go to Iraq, and shut up about it.

The MTA clearly wants to discredit the leadership of the union by forcing a series of changes which would pave the way for wholesale reduction of benefits for city workers, even though the TWU is a state union. Why? Because the TWU has spoken up for the riders on many occasions including planned rate hikes and the need for better security training and, oh yeah, their planned boondoggle land sales to the Jets and the Nets. Ever wonder why the Times doesn't come out against the Atlantic Avenue railyards project? Pinch Sulzberger and Steven Rattner play raquetball a couple of times a week.

A lot of the hostility one meets from TWU workers comes from the onerous work rules that the MTA imposes, like loss of days pay for reading a newspaper at 3 Am in a token booth.

When my uncle was a token clerk, one of his coworkers was late in collecting the tokens from the turnstyles and was robbed. Why was she late? To service a line of customers. The MTA made her pay back every dime. When people complain about the workers, they don't realize that many things you would expect as human courtesy, could get them written up by supervisors.

The reason the TWU is looking for a raise is simple: the MTA not only has money, but has been caught lying about money in the past. Shelly Silver saved $600m by refusing to approve the Jets deal. Their new Jersey stadium will cost over a billion dollars. As the people of DC are
finding out, stadium cost overruns can be very expensive.

At every turn since 2002, the MTA has been proven to be openly dishonest about it's financial health and funny accounting. It could well claim a loss next year or a $2b surplus. There is no accounting for their accounting. Even if you think the union is wrong, you cannot trust the MTA to act in good faith. They were going to give the Jets the West Side Railyards for 40 percent of it's estimated value. They plan a similar deal with Steve Rattner. They simply lack credibility. This is a public authority with a history of mendacity which is simply astounding.

The union, by calling a limited strike, is trying to force some concessions from the MTA, who's argument of future losses is simply not credible in the sense that none of their numbers are credible.

If the union gives in on medical care, every city union will be forced to do the same. What Gelinas doesn't want to understand is that when you do that, that becomes a salary decrease. You make less money against inflation, even with a raise. The same with the pensions. Just because of the trend in corporate management to foist the cost of pensions on workers, defined benefit plans work better for employees.

Once you get contributions, the next move is a 401K type plan which screws retirees compared to the old fashioned defined benefits plan.

The MTA's complains about health care costs are not from their ass. At some point, it will become a serious burden, but the problem is that if the TWU gives in, the city will demand it from their unions next.

Which is why the TWU is gaining support from the city's other unions. The PBA is already regretting lowering the pay for new recruits, which has driven down recruitment. So why should the TWU expect their new members to take less. Once you do that, at some point, all your workers are screwed. They've already had the retirement age raised on them. Now the MTA wants to raise it another seven years, despite the health risks and stress of the job, which means more people will die or be disabled on the job.

The MTA is the least trustworthy public agency in New York and that takes some skill

posted by Steve @ 9:58:00 AM

9:58:00 AM

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