Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Getting what you want...

To the MTA:

You futzed around three years ago with these negotiations, almost exactly the same way. You then plead poverty and asked the workers to accept a not so great deal because you were broke. Then, we discovered a huge surplus, and you raised the fares anyway. There was an injunctioned ruled against the fare hike, but it never reverted back. You decided unilaterally, against the safety of the riders and workers of the MTA, to cut jobs necessary for safety and security in the subways. You tried to sell some of your property for millions less than your best offer.

You stalled and stalled and stalled this round of negotiations. For an extra good slap in the face, you spent your surplus on bonuses for the riders but set aside none of it for your workers. I'm sure every Metro North and LIRR commuter would trade their free 10 trip pass in to ensure the subway was running today. I know I'd pay the extra buck per ride on the weekend. You told these workers, "see, you don't mean shit to us."

These workers, these proud women and men, who work in some of the most hazardous conditions of any industry (rat poison, third rails, metal dust, working on tracks where trains whiz by at 60 mph), make New York City. They are just as important to our way of life as any of the other public unions of this city, making the most complex and far reaching public transportation system on earth work like no other.

You've been trying to tell the public that is Roger Toussaint and the workers who are the irresponsible ones. You haven't once thought about how a worker who's willing to lose double her day's pay (and really triple, because she's not working, and being fined double her wages) must really feel strongly, weighed all her options, knowing full well this city depends on her, and decided that for her, for her sisters and brothers, and for the future T Cells of the heart of this world, this strike needs to happen. Taylor Law, Billionaire mayors who file lawsuits against the workers instead of pressuring the slowfooted lunacy of the MTA board, lameduck governor spending too much time in Iowa all be damned, she needs to go out on strike. You haven't been listening to her, you've been ignoring her, but you can ignore her no longer.

You have said, with your words, your deeds, with your every action, that you wanted the workers of the MTA to strike. You have told them in every possible way that you do not value what they do, that you do not care what they do, since they don't have any real power. Now, you must face the consequences of your foolish actions. Actually, it's we New Yorkers who must face the consequences of your foolish actions. Your profound arrogance and stupidity have put us here. You have told her you don't need her. Now's she's going to show you just how much we all need her.

What people need to understand is that strikes are a last resort. Strikes are the last thing any workers want to do. They want to work. They just want to do it with dignity, safety and fairness. Workers and the representatives they elect to negotiate for them all know how damaging a strike can be. It's not something people do on a whim, because its tuesday or they had plain m&ms today. It is a LAST RESORT. And if MTA had just shown a little more respect, maybe we wouldn't be here.

I believe strikes are a last resort. And I believe the MTA has left the transit workers no options. In treating them with such blatant disrespect from the '02 negotiations until now, they have left themselves no outs, no graceful emergency exits. The MTA, in short, has shown that a strike by the TWU is what they want. Now, the workers are going to give it to you.

New York is with you whether you decide to go out or not, Local 100. We know we can't live without you. Those MTA bastards are just too arrogant to admit it.


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