When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

16 December 2005

NYC Transit strike: It's on, sort of

After negotiating through the night with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and not making much progress, the head of the Transport Workers Union, Roger Toussaint, announced that the TWU would start a partial strike (involving drivers of private bus lines) Friday evening, but would hold off on shutting down buses and subways citywide until 12:01 AM next Tuesday. (See this morning's New York Times for details.)

I really don't know where to begin with this one, y'all.

Leaving aside that the City of New York will be in a complete state of emergency for the duration of a public transportation strike (over seven million people, a mix of New Yorkers and suburban commuters, ride the subways and buses in New York City every day) what we've got here is this:

A bloated, inefficient, secretive, and incredibly poorly managed state government transportation authority pitted against a venal, thuggish labor union with a hypertrophied sense of entitlement.

Whose side am I on? Easy: the people of the City of New York, who are utterly dependent on this pack of dysfunctional jokers to get them from point A to point B in the five boroughs.

Sadly, "a plague on both their houses" won't solve the problem; New York City has got to move.

But in my fantasy world, both sides (the MTA and the TWU) would take such a credibility hit from this fiasco that we (as in "we the people") could break the back of the union AND shake up and restructure the MTA from top to bottom. And start over.

The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, which claims to represent the interests of the average Joe riding the subways, attempts a conciliatory tone in a letter jointly addressed to the heads of the MTA and TWU:
We understand the challenges faced by the MTA, including future deficits fueled by a growing burden of past massive borrowing to pay for much needed repairs in the absence of the State and City to shoulder their fair share. At the same time, we applaud progress this year, including passage of a five-year $15 billion-plus core capital program, voter approval of a $2.9 billion transportation bond and a first-ever program of holiday fare discounts. These actions are due to the efforts of a broad coalition of groups - including business, community groups and labor - and the MTA.

We are also pleased that transit officials have agreed to keep booth personnel as customer service representatives. So we are all the more disappointed that MTA New York City Transit appears to be pressing for "one person train operations," at the expense, we believe, of rider and worker safety.
(Because they're NYPIRG, they started off with some ass-kissing rhetoric about the glory of collective bargaining, which I've spared you.)


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