Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Voice of Reason

Juan Gonzalez, my very favorite Daily News columnist, writes today that it was the supreme arrogance of the MTA that brought on this strike. While Mayor Bloomberg continues to call the strike illegal and selfish, and refer to workers as “thugs,” he hopes no one will notice that he plans to emulate the MTA by eroding the pensions of city workers as well. In today’s news conference, he made specific reference to a fifth pension tier.

Gonzalez writes that not only the contractual issues, but long-term abuses are at the root of this strike:

Nelson Rivera, shop chairman for the 300 mechanics and car cleaners at 207th St., says Casiano is not the only worker penalized for illness. Another mechanic with 30 years on the job recently had a heart operation.

"When the guy came back to work, the MTA demoted him to security guard instead of giving him light duties," Rivera said. "Since then, he's been disciplined twice and is now facing a possible dismissal in 30 days."

Local 100 President Roger Toussaint has repeatedly complained that the MTA issued a phenomenal 15,000 disciplinary actions against his members last year.

Sure, there are people worse off than the transit workers. Nonetheless, lowering their standard of living will be no help whatsoever to these people. Instead of talking about how bad everyone has it, and how workers need to decrease their benefits and pay, we ought to be discussing ways to raise the standard of living for all workers, not just Mayor Mike and his billionaire buddies who need stadiums. Gonzalez says it better:

Have the rest of us been beaten down, exploited and abused for so long by our own employers that we will allow transit workers who dare to defend their standard of living to be painted as thugs?

To hear Bloomberg talk, the Taylor Law came down with the Ten Commandments - and wasn't a modern concoction by politicians to curb the power and influence of our city's municipal unions.

(Thanks to reality based educator for the pointer.)
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