12/20/05: The Transit Workers Union in New York City has staged a strike, and 33,000 workers have walked off the job. This has left millions of commuters and throngs of tourists–both of whom move the city’s economic engine–stranded. Although today’s commute was an unpleasant task as I made my way to work in a wintry wind chill of six degrees below zero, New Yorkers are a pretty hearty bunch and we will persevere. Despite reports, this strike is not so much about wages or a pension plan. It’s really about unionized jobs that are no longer necessary and are being phased out by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Technology has reduced the need for such jobs as toll-booth collector, and there is less call for on-board train crews. Our transportation system has gotten more efficient and the TWU is unhappy about membership attrition. The archetypal union of the past is just that, a remnant from a different time struggling to survive. This outmoded tactic of walkouts will only hurt the public perception of unions. Also to this point, this strike will really hurt those who have no representation, including the minimum-wage workers who desperately need to get to their jobs. Yet, it seems the TWU, which boasts its representation of worker’s rights, really doesn’t care about those who are in need.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
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