Every now and then, some group makes a move in public that is so fantastically idiotic that it shocks the conscience. That group this week is Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union of the esteemed and shrinking AFL-CIO, and their boneheaded strike against New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
Hard to know where to start on this one, but here goes:
— First, the strike is illegal under New Yorks’ Taylor Law. For that, (for violating a judge’s injunction) the union is being fined $1 million a day, a staggering sum even for a group inside the AFL-CIO, which is used to lighting a match to this kind of money for losing and unpopular political causes;
— Second, the strike is timed for the Christmas season, for maximum leverage against the MTA. However, it also exerts maximum leverage against the small shops who do far more than 1/52 of their business this week and who count on transit to stay in business. Since public sympathy is the biggest weapon that any union has, they just squandered it. Overall, it’s estimated that the city is losing over $400 million a day.
— Third, they took on a newly- (and overwhelmingly-) elected Mayor.
— Fourth, their demands read more like a letter to Santa. They now contribute not a cent to their health care (know anybody with this perk?) and are rejecting the MTA’s “outrageous request that they contribute a whopping 1% (Yes, you read that right: one percent) to their health care. They want the retirement age lowered to 50. (You’d have to say that’s moving in the opposite direction from the rest of the civilized world, no?) and they want to put a cap on how much discipline the MTA can mete out to its members. Right. Can’t imagine anybody would mind the MTA looking the other way for the last half year — after hitting their TWU quota — for train operators driving too fast, or under the influence of alcohol, whatever. What the heck, they can always get ’em early next year, before the quota is hit, right? They also asked for hefty salary increases when the average train driver’s pay alone is $63,000, as compared to the average salary for the average joe in New York at $45,000.
Hard to know where all of this is headed. At this writing, word is that the International Union, in a show of good sense, is about to put the local in some sort of protective custody and take over the negotiations. Let’s hope so — maybe they can knock some sense into Local 100, a group that clearly had a little too much egg nog at negotiation time.
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