My favorite blog for commentary on the MTA strike


[Disclaimer: this post is a bit of a mess and I keep revising it to try to say what I really think.]

It's Steve and Jen's news blog, especially since Steve and Jen disagree on the strike and are both writing about it.

I started reading this blog again after Tom Moody wrote about the strike and linked to it.

I will say I think the union is managing its PR and strategy rather badly. We should be reminded constantly of how incompetent/devious the MTA executives are, including their ability to "find" an extra $1 billion in the budget once in a while, or the fact that in a time of supposed terrorist threats, they are closing token booths and forcing us to rely on turnstile exits that will cause a huge number of deaths in an emergency. See more by Ray Sanchez on MTA security. Now would be an excellent time for Bloomberg to start pushing to have the MTA become a city-controlled agency, rather than a state one, but he's busy acting more like a billionaire than a mayor at the moment.

I will say I'm troubled by the actual strike. I don't think it had gotten to the point where a strike was necessary. I don't know what leverage a union has in this age, but a strike by transit workers hurts so many working people in the city.


you said: (I will say I'm troubled by the actual strike ... I don't know what leverage a union has in this age, but a strike by transit workers hurts so many working people in the city.)

I felt the same way, even though I side heavily with worker's rights and think that no matter what they get they're still probably getting screwed by the man.

On the other hand, there's an ethical dilemma in striking when the result of the action will result in hurting so many innocent members of the public.

It's funny though, now that they're talking about going back to work, I'm a little disappointed that they didn't hold out longer!

This URL has good commentary with very good comments as well. I'm a ambivalent. Generally being pro-union I support the strike, but at the same time, it may be illegal and I can't really support that.

I wish a court would decide if it's illegal or not.


It is illegal, no question.

I'm an ideological supporter of unions, but this strike will likely make things worse for the workers, resulting in less reward come contract time. In fact, this recent strike more closely resembles a stand-off between two competing corporations during a buy-out. It's very troubling...

It is also illegal under the Taylor Law for the MTA leaders to try to change pensions and retirement benefits in these negotiations. I suspect they won't be fined.


Section 201 of the law clearly states that "no such retirement benefits shall be negotiated pursuant to this article, and any benefits so negotiated shall be void."

Only the Legislature has the legal authority to approve changes in public employee pension systems.


I support the union concept, but as they stand in reality, I must acknowledge widespread union corruption. Note the night-and-day reversal of the current strike before an agreement had even been drawn up, the moment the entire union board faced the stark possibility of Christmas in jail.

Interesting thread of comments; I have been thinking a lot of this issue over the last few days. I too am a bit disappointed that they didn't hold out longer in striking, although I don't think they went back to talks and work because of a fear of jail. My reading of Judge Jones' position is that he decided to read the Taylor law really literally, much to the chagrin of the MTA/state, who really wanted to just fine the union out of existence, not create "martyrs" as some have put it. I'm not sure how the strike would have went if those folks ended up in jail, but I don't think they were cowed, on that level, into retreat. More interesting, however, has been this assertion that there are legal and illegal strikes. While I recognize the difference between wildcat strikes and those that are governed by collective bargaining, I don't think the Taylor laws are especially just (by analogy, my response is the same to the Rockefeller laws). Mostly, folks who invoke the law and order argument worry about harming others. Well, I have no idea what union tradition they know about, but the one I have experience in know--beforehand--that strikes harm someone. The point is not to have fun, but to leverage power, a process that unfortunately does have the potential to harm or discomfort "the public." Contrary to the media and others, I don't think the public are the bosses of the transit workers; they have "real" bosses in an institutional setting, whom they are attempting to settle an agreement with. My favorite post-strike moment was watching the news and seen CBS put on an "expert" (their words) to assess the strike's impact. This "expert" had no experience with labor conflict or unions except that he was a seasoned reporter, yet he spoke as if he covered unions issues all his career. What a crock! Nevertheless, I find it is a complicated moment and I am only beginning to figure out what I think about it.

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