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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Grinch That Stole Christmas

Having been driving on the road for four months, I was really looking forward to spending some quality time on the New York City subway system, what I once considered to be one of the best systems in the world.

Now the subway system is on strike and everything is a mess.

Thanks a lot Roger Toussaint.

New York City is in chaos! People are walking and biking and working from home. We can't get to the stores to spend money! We can't get to work! We can't see each other! All of this right before Christmas.

It has personal and economic consequences:

City officials have said a transit strike could cost the city $440 million to $660 million a day.

None of this personally effects me, except for the last one of course. I've had to cancel get togethers with friends since I've been back due to this nonsense, but I do not have to get back to work for at least a month.

I do find it sad though. I have commented in the past that New York City is moving in the wrong direction. People have become too used to the clean and efficient city of the Giuliani years, and have forgotten the hard work it took to make it that way.

At the heart of the matter is the Grinch That Stole Christmas, Toussaint, president of the Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union of America. The union has its roots among Irish Catholics who worked long hours seven days a week. Historically, it's clear, the union has done some good.

That was a long time ago, however, and the MTA workers seem to have it pretty good. With a New York City resident median income of $38,293, the union members wages are larger by far than the average city dweller, some reports indicating more than $50,000. Certainly, the health care and pension benefits that they get are not things most New Yorkers have.

Why is the union so aggressive then?

According to reports, Toussaint's election in 2000 was a sign of things to come:

Toussaint's election in 2000 "was a pretty clear indication that
union members wanted someone who was less accommodating to
management," said Richard Steier, editor of The Chief, a weekly
newspaper that follows public employee unions.

It appears that Toussaint, an immigrant from Trinidad, has a lifetime of similar establishment struggles. Even as a child, he railed against society. Here's a great nugget of information/gossip:

He was arrested and expelled from high school and left for Brooklyn in 1974 to escape a violent atmosphere of harassment and retaliation." A former St Mary's College schoolmate remembers and speaks about Toussaint: "He was expelled for spray painting socialist slogans on the College walls...The talk in school was that the police caught him doing it, arrested him and took him down to jail where Father Lai Fook went to get him out. No charges were laid because the College was not pressing any. He eventually sat his O level exams at Queen's Royal College."

How stereotypical, having a socialist in charge of a trade union. We need Joe McCarthy back.

The union is not without its good arguments, ones that I would be more likely to listen to if their membership was working. The most compelling statistic is this:

With a $1 billion surplus, this contract between the M.T.A. and the Transport Workers Union should have been a no-brainer. Sadly, that has not been the case. Our contract expired on Thursday at midnight. In an attempt to save mass transit, and in deference to our riders, we postponed our deadline and attempted to continue talking to the M.T.A.

However, the union is hung up on saving their pension, which does not touch upon this matter. A surplus is a temporary condition, while pensions are long-term investments. To negotiate pension benefits based on current income is foolish, and will only lead to fare increases and deficits for the MTA down the line. But let's not let logic take over now, that wouldn't be any fun. The fact that this strike is hurting people not making 50,000 a year and not having a pension does not seem to bother them.

Also, the union was demanding raise hikes as high as 24% over three years, which has nothing to do with pensions. It seems that the union now is scrambling for something to hold on to as a way to justify their "illegal strike," as Governor Pataki puts it.

Why put New Yorkers through all of this?

It's possible though that this strike is in response to pressure from the left -- even by New York City standards -- and that the Local 100 leadership needed to do this to remain in power. Toussaint had been criticized for doing a "right turn" by...negotiating...in the past.

This is silly at best and dangerous at worst. The union needs to get back to work, fire their idiot president, and then New Yorkers will be more likely to listen.

Don't get me wrong. The MTA has few heroes. They aren't the ones that walked out though. If the union gets back to work, my sympathy for their "plight" goes up.

Hurry up though.

More Politics.


Blogger DDD said...

Yesterdays NY Post had Toussaint and THE GRINCH sitting at a bar. Toussaint says to the Grinch: "HA! That's nothing. Let me tell you how I ruined Christmas!"

Friday, 23 December, 2005  

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