Be TWU To Your City

As everyone knows the Transit Workers Union (TWU) saw fit to strike for more money and "more respect." You know you live in a free society when workers can strike for respect. Here's a quote from TWU Local 100 blog:

This is a fight over whether hard work will be rewarded with a decent retirement and over the erosion or eventual elimination of health benefits for working people. And it is a fight over dignity and respect on the job; a concept that is alien to the MTA.

Transit workers are tired of being under appreciated and disrespected.

It's too easy to snipe at such a lack of detachment from reality and a sense of entitlement so I'll just leave it at that. My concern is that people see this battle between the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) and the TWU as an old school battle of a company versus unions when it's not. This is a battle between a city and higher taxes.

Let me state that I am not against unions per se...sometimes they are good, sometimes bad, it depends on the issue. Say, for example, a grocer paid his workers too little and forced them to work in hazardous conditions. The workers then banded together into a union and walked out forcing him to pay them more and create a safer environment. This is a Good Thing. The effects would be felt slightly in the form of higher food prices as the grocer needs to maintain profitability. But the higher prices would probably be more in line with other grocers charge in the area. Not a problem. However, say the union became drunk with power and forced the owner to pay them four times their normal salary, if the owner paid these higher salaries then the price on all of his food would go up. Customers would start to avoid his store and go down the block to a competitor and eventually his business would fail and the others would succeed. This is Kapitalism.

That said, I am against this particular union. A little background: The MTA is not a city agency, it is a state agency...meaning that they are not accountable to the city which they serve. Therefore, they can take anything Mayor Bloomberg and the city council says as a suggestion and nothing more. They are reliant on (the noticably silent, presidiential hopeful) Governor Pataki for funding. They also control almost all public transportation in New York City and the city cannot operate without it. The TWU's Local 100 is the dominant union and is the tail that wags the dog. If the TWU strikes then the MTA shuts down. The MTA barely even factors into the equation as their only concern is to keep the same amount of money for themselves so that they can operate.

With this in mind, it shows that our lawmakers have cleverly designed a system where a single entity controls all the city's transportation and are accountable only to themselves. They have been given a municipal monopoly. In other words, when the TWU strikes, they can literally coerce the city to pay them more as we have no choice, there is no alternative public transportation. When they shut down my commute went from $4 a day to $30 a day. Since it is a monopoly in it's truest sense, the union could demand and get twice their current salary and we would have to pay them. After all, my commute would only cost $8 a day and it's a bargain compared to the $30 of a cab.

Now making it illegal for unions to strike is a ridiculous solution to me. I'd rather the city be empowered and engage in vigorous strike busting by bringing in people who are grateful to have a job. Ideally people who don't buy into the myth of Pension. I'm for paying these employees well, in fact, they are already paid much better then police and firemen. But this frivolous use of power simply because they have it needs to be smacked down and our local government has proven to be smackless.

I already pine for the day when the conductors are replaced by sensors on the doors, token booths by machines and real security but supplemented by dozens of cameras rather than dozens of people searching bags.

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UFCW Local 1000 Baby!!!

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