Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Subway Schmubway

It took me way less time to get into work today than when there isn't a strike. Go figure. I got got a carpool ride in with a co-worker who lives in Staten Island. He said the only place he encountered any real traffic was on Fourth Avenue near my building. Everything else was smooth sailing. It seems like people decided to stay the heck away, if they could (or had no choice).

Not that the strike isn't a terrible thing for a lot of people. It will surely affect the city's economy on the macro scale, and a lot of folks who cannot get into work and can't work from home are majorly screwed. Even the transit workers themselves have it tough, not knowing what the resolution will be an not having any pay for at least as long as the strike continues. Sadly, it is generally those who can least afford to miss a paycheck that get the worst of such a situation.

And I do stand behind Local 100. Those workers have tough jobs, and they not only deserve to get decent wages, pensions and health care, but to be able to assure future workers that they won't get the short end of the stick. You can't really say the MTA was bargaining in good faith, considering they spent their considerable surplus on almost everything but wages just before the contract talks began. They even wanted to give riders some kind of "free rides" break around the holidays, meanwhile not even meeting the cost-of-living increases in salaries and trying to enforce later retirement! Well, how's this for special holiday treatment - no rides at all. Thanks a lot, Pataki and the MTA jackasses. Everybody knows you mismanage the whole thing. Crying that the unions are violating some ridiculous laws and acting in bad faith sounds stupid when you give them no other choice.

And that's the thing here: what other choice did the workers have? The MTA and government were bullying and acting cocky, filing lawsuits and making threats, basically saying they couldn't strike or they'd be punished. But that's the very reason they had to strike - it was the only weapon in their defense that they had left. If they couldn't walk off the job, what else could they use to bargain in this game of hardball? Pouts? And don't even talk to me about slow-downs - you know the MTA would be calling workers everything short of Satan if they did that, too.

So, a tough situation, all around. But I'm fortunate. I've got a cushy ride to and from work (in a giant leather-trimmed SUV, no less), however much I wanted to avoid coming in, and a resulting paycheck. M has to carpool in and out today, but she's taken off tomorrow and we're off for the dirty south early Thursday morning, so the only thing we really have to worry about if this goes on is making sure we get a firm reservation from a car service to and from Laguardia.

Nevertheless, I'll be glad when I can get on the old R train, again. The subways and buses are this city's lifeblood. New Yorkers will pull together and work things out like we've done in so many tough situations- but we want our arteries flowing again.

No comments: