23 December 2005

Let's Be Clear

Remember my dad? Here's a picture of us on Fremont Street back in November. Like lots of people, my dad wears many hats. Many of which are not to be shared with the world. Recently my dad's most interesting hat has been labeled "striking NYC Transit Authority Worker." And if my mom weren't retired, she'd be one too. Tomorrow my dad will be back on the job while the TWU negotiates with the city.

The strike has disrupted millions and cost about $1 billion. The city is paying tens of millions in overtime (according to CBS Evening News) to traffic cops. Businesses are losing millions from potential shoppers. The transit workers have become the enemies of the city. And there is where I develop a problem. I think every New Yorker harboring ill will should be ashamed of him or herself.

This strike was not aimed at you New York. So please get over yourself. Take it as a sign the people still have a voice. You might not realize it, but blue collar jobs aren't as safe as they once were. General Motors is cutting 30,000 jobs and closing (or limiting production) at at least 12 plants. Ford is set to cut 4,000 and is expected to actually cut even more. United Airlines wants to cut its pilot's pensions. And failure to deliver promised pensions pushed both Delta and Northwest into bankruptcy. I don't care if you've worked somewhere for 20 years; your job is not safe. The way I see it, striking transit workers are protecting their futures. What's more honorable than that?

Let's be clear. My dad does not like losing two days of pay for every one day of striking. He has a mortgage to pay and home heating oil to buy just like the next dad. Losing money sucks but standing up for yourself and your peers is awesome.

TWU members are going back to work. But if they strike again, it will be because the city (and the ingrates in it) fail to understand what's worth fighting for. Maybe if New Yorkers stopped yelling at the strikers, and showed Mayor Bloomberg they support the people who support them everyday, negotiations wouldn't turn to strikes.