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Wednesday, December 21, 2005 |
NYC MTA Transit Workers Union Strike, Day 2
Getting home is the harder part. In the morning, you can pretty easily find a car to share a ride with, lots of cars need the extra people to make the 4 people per vehicle limit. But coming home, there are no limits and the destinations are varied far and wide. Luckily, yesterday and today I had a former co-worker give me a ride, tomorrow I'm not so lucky. This morning I couldn't find the Chinatown buses that normally run by my house, so I put on my walking shoes and took a looong walk over to the ferry, where I paid out $6 to get a ride to the pier near my office. And by looong, I mean an hour and half hike over 2-3 miles. I don't mind much, as I could use the exersize, but this is all getting rather old, rather fast. And I certainly can't afford to have a $12 daily commuting bill. Having just learned that the starting salary of an transit worker is $55,000 with full medical benefits and a pension, I am seriously considering applying for the next examination period. It has been pointed out that this is a strike about preserving union power and gains for all middle class americans. Which has a nice ring to it, except for the part about how auto workers, steel workers, and airline workers said much the same thing before their industries went bankrupt and pensions and benefits got slashed. Seems to me that what the union is fighting for is the illusion of rich benefits, that do a double disservice because union members won't efficiently plan for the end when it comes. If you count on the rich pension for retirement, you are less likely to save up any individual retirement funds, and will be completely unprepared when the pension implodes. Likewise, annual increases in salary and medical benefits are nice and all, but the short term gains can't be good when faced with the possibility of bankrupting the employer. Surpluses may exist now, but are likely one-time events that shouldn't be counted on to provide for increasing ongoing liabilities. If nothing else, increasing manpower costs just provides more incentive to shrink the workforce through hiring freezes and technological replacement, both of which will undoubtably reduce union membership. If I were to advise the union, I'd tell them that their focus is entirely misplaced. I would stick with the current ccontract, possibly make add minor cost of living increases (or even the third rail of performance based increases), and instead demand 2 major planks. 1) Transparancy in accounting, especially the pension. 2) Dramatically increase the funding into the pension plan, and make that all publicly accountable too. I'd also demand that the pension fund calculations run as conservative as possible. At the end of the day, if the benefits you win at the bargening table evaporate when the company goes bankrupt, then you really haven't won anything at all. That's enough for today. Tomorrow I'll list the reasons why the TWU is run by morons and how many ways the members can go fuck themselves (5, fyi).

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