I’m reporting live from the epi-center of the great transit strike of 2005 in New York City! The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which manages New York City transit, insists that new union workers accept less health benefits and get their pensions later than current employees. The MTA cites “hard times” as a justification for the cuts, despite the fact that the members of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union do possibly the most important job in the city, while they breath in high quantities of asbestos and mystery substances typically and vaguely termed “particulate matter”. Union workers are quick to point out that the MTA has a one million dollar surplus, and that times are far from hard. However, for reasons that remain unclear, the MTA bosses are allowed to operate with more autonomy than most third world nations. Evidence of the MTA's indepence from oversight and reason could be seen in Mayor Bloomberg’s sheepish suggestion that the Union give in soon, presumably because the MTA is allowed authority over not just the Union contract, but also the English language definition of “hard times” (with no apologies to those at Oxford’s English Dictionary).
I won’t go through the intricacies of the dispute, but I will say one sticking point is that the MTA wants workers to stay on the job until they are 62 before getting pensions, not 55, the current age where pensions are awarded. The public seems to support the MTA on this issue, and thus consenting to old people driving subways. Vision, hearing, and reaction time all plummet with old age, so why we would want old people driving subway cars remains unclear.
So far, a few formerly private buss lines in Queens have been the first to strike, thus affecting only a tiny percentage of New Yorkers.
Media coverage of Transit Strike ’05 has been more biased in favor of the MTA bosses than any other bias this blogger has ever observed, especially in tabloid papers such as the New York Post and New York One, which is essentially a TV version of Post stories plus useful temperature updates. This media bias reflects New Yorker’s total lack of sympathy or understanding for transit workers. Some have suggested this apathy towards transit workers stems from transit workers general rudeness, some suggests it’s because the transit workers are largely African American; however indifference to the health care concerns of transit workers may just come from the inconveniences that will result from a transit strike. Either way New Yorkers have once again proven to be far from their liberal stereotype when it comes to problems in their own city.
The Editorial Board here at Blue Fish Canoe whole heatedly supports the transit strike, and would like to be the first to dub cab drivers that pick up more passengers after an initial passenger, the heroes of transit strike ’05. A representative from the cab workers Union heroically replies to this attribution by saying all New Yorkers are the real heroes.
Furthermore, “I Survived Transit Strike ‘05” tee shirts, hats and baby-tees are now on sale here. In your face casualties!