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Aporkalypse

New York Transit Strike

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No I don't think it should be illegal. NYC is one of the richest places on the planet. I don't think it is too much for the transit workers to share in some of the prosperity.

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Should it be illegal for the workers to strike?

The dependency on mass transit, which normally is thought of as a good thing here, has paralyzed the city.

Technically, under the Taylor Law, it is illegal in New York state for essential unions such as the transit, fire, police, emergency services unions, etc. to strike because they are vital to public safety.

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No I don't think it should be illegal. NYC is one of the richest places on the planet. I don't think it is too much for the transit workers to share in some of the prosperity.

While I support the right for labor to strike and get a fair compensation, the transit union is much better taken care of than NYPD, FDNY and the teachers' union. It is not uncommon for a bus driver to make as much as $58,000. They retire at 55, are guaranteed a pension to which they do not have to contribute and they do not have to pay anything for health insurance. The MTA is offering a 3% raise this year, 4-1/2% next year and 4% the following year. The sticking point for the union is that the MTA is asking that new employees contribute 1% towards their health insurance and 6% towards their pension for the first 10 years on the job. In essence, they would be creating a two-tier system. This, unfortunately, has become the norm in both the private realm and, increasingly, the public realm. To settle the grocery workers strike, Safeway and Albertson's, who were having difficulty competing with Wal Mart since they paid their unionized workers a wage that granted them access to the middle class versus Wal Mart's low wages, set up a two tier system where the new hires made much lower wages and the existing employees kept their compensation at the current level. In the public realm, NY's police, fire and teacher's unions have already settled for selling out the new employees. I think the larger societal issue is how we seem to be selling out the future generations and exacerbating the divide between the rich and poor by suffocating the middle class.

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I would rather see the police get a new contract than the transit workers when they saw their starting pay go from $34,000 to $25,000 while transit workers are making $50-60k. So far, the cost to the city (that is private & public sector) has topped $1 billion. This is, however, a much larger labor issue too as I mentioned in an earlier post.

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I would rather see the police get a new contract than the transit workers when they saw their starting pay go from $34,000 to $25,000 while transit workers are making $50-60k. So far, the cost to the city (that is private & public sector) has topped $1 billion. This is, however, a much larger labor issue too as I mentioned in an earlier post.

I completely agree. Transit workers don't deserve more than these professions that put their lives on the line (not to mention police have significant entry requirements). Police and firemen, like health care workers, will never strike because they are inherently altruistic.

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I didn't like the fact that Bloomberg called the employees "selfish" for striking. I have friends, family, and coworkers in NY who all suffered as a result of the strike, just like millions of others who also endured the cold long walks and long desperate waits for a taxi ride, but they mostly understood the point that the workers were trying to make. The strikers' wishes for better compensation and benefits are perfectly understandable. For those of us in what are often considered "better" jobs than being a bus driver, we have (especially nowadays) many more opportunities to improve our financial situations. We can get graduate degrees, get promotions, move around the job market with our skills to find better-paying jobs, etc. But if you're a bus driver, you're a bus driver and that's that. You probably ended up in that job b/c you didn't have other strong skills that could take you someplace else. It's much harder and more expensive to go back into an educational degree program to develop other skills or try to switch careers for a more lucrative one. And let's face it, even if the salary is as decent as something like 40-50k, honestly how far does $50k go in NYC, one of the most expensive cities ever to live? Especially if you consider that most of the striking workers are not single young ppl with degrees and mobility. These are mostly less-well-off ppl trying to earn a better living for themselves and their families. After taxes, after family expenses, debts, basic necessities of life, etc.. what does an average transit employee in nyc take home at the end of the day?

Bloomberg has lots and lots of benefits. He wasn't hurt by the strike. His wealth is his own to keep, and he was very wealthy even before becoming mayor, but he still gets a good juicy salary from taxpayers money as a public official doesn't he? But no one calls him selfish.

Maybe if these transit workers had truly decent wages and benefits they wouldn't have to resort to a strike at all. I'm sure a lot of them didn't enjoy it, standing out in the cold for hours, risking their jobs and facing a lot of uncertainties, with no guarantee that their situation would improve. Even now as the strike is called off, there still is no final resolution, and apparently the negotiations will have to continue.

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To all the whiners and Bloomberg sympathizers:

Let's do it your way: Let's bring bus driver pay to $10/hour with no benefits like so many other jobs in this country. Then you will have people driving you around New York City that are less skilled and more likely to get you into an accident. Lower paying jobs have higher turn over and the workers care less because they are unhappy.

Let's get rid of unions and drop the wages to poverty level (which is entirely possible over time.. it's happened in all other industries that have become de-unionized over the years)... or, let's scrap the NYC transport system altogether and everyone can drive into town...

I just don't see how your solutions make sense!

I come from a strong union area... those at union jobs make much better wages, have secure retirements, and are much happier with their jobs. Those with non-skilled, non-union jobs are living in poverty.. which is absolutely inexcusable... Is it really that much to ask to have a livable wage? I mean, come on.. get your head out of the dark hole that it's in. Poverty begets poverty begets poverty... your'e simply allowing our country to sink into that endless cycle.

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Can someone tell me what happened in New York those days..... Was is havoc or was it just a little filled?

I had a job interview in the city then, so I was there for a few days of the strike. I stayed with my brother in New Jersey (Newark) and was able to get into Manhattan on the PATH trains, which were still running. There were packed beyond belief, as a lot of people either were staying with relatives in New Jersey so they could commute to the city or using the PATH to get as far as it runs in Manhattan (from the Village up to 33rd street, or the World Trade Center from 33rd by going into Hoboken and then back over the river).

Penn Station was a nightmare, as they had a lot of entrances blocked off and everyone was riding the commuter rail lines (metro north, LIRR, NJTransit) to get to certain places that somewhat mimicked subway routes. Also a lot of private tour buses were packed, and cabs were a $10 per person per zone minimum fare (which of course we didn't realize til we took one and then got charged $40!!) I heard that at one point Fifth Avenue was closed down which must have just been surreal.

Overall I'd say most New Yorkers got by. A lot more people walking than usual but also a lot more people just staying home and not going to work at all.

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