2005-12-23 / Editorial/Opinion

A Pox On Both Their Houses

As we write this on Tuesday, the Transportation Workers Union Local 100 (TWU) has started its disruptive strike against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and, more importantly, against the people of the City of New York. The only local transportation company that continues to run its routes is the Green Bus Line, whose buses continue to run on their regular schedules. That does Rockaway riders little good. Getting off the peninsula to places such as Queens Center or Flatbush Avenue is of little use when there are no other transportation alternatives from those points. Most Rockaway riders who work in Manhattan use either the subway or the express bus service from Triboro Bus. Neither of those services is running and the probability is that neither will return until the strike is over. There will be a lot of finger pointing over the coming weeks. The TWU will say that the MTA did not bargain in good faith. The MTA will say that its offer to the union was fair for all concerned and that the union is in a power grab to bring the city to its knees. That is standard strike rhetoric. In this case, however, both of the antagonists might be right. The MTA has proven over the past two years that it cannot be trusted, what with its double set of books and the large surplus that it wanted to use not to cut fares or to help out impacted riders, but to build a new headquarters building for its top executives. Very few people in New York City trust the MTA with reason. On the other hand, the TWU demands include many perks that other unions lost long ago, particularly in the area of pension. With the exception of our uniformed workers (NYPD, FDNY), nobody retires at 55 years of age anymore, with the exception of the Tier One workers who have been with the city for more than 30 years. It is unreasonable to expect that the city would fund that pension deal for subway and bus workers when they don’t do it for teachers and others. We can’t predict when the strike will end, or how it will end. We believe that the TWU President, Roger Toussaint is trying to earn his union “chops” by standing up to the city and perhaps going to jail. That is a macho stand that helps nobody, especially those who need to get to work and whose only way to work is being blocked by the union. A pox on both their houses. The top officials of the TWU and MTA should be locked in a room without food or water and made to stay there until a rational agreement is reached.

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