Blogs > Cliopatria > TWU Says No

Jan 20, 2006 8:23 pm

TWU Says No

Wow. The MTA (correctly, in my opinion) came under heat for elements in the contract that seemed to reward the illegal strike. I can't imagine the city or state providing a more generous offer. The final vote was 11,234 to 11,227: are there any hanging chads?
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Louis N Proyect - 1/22/2006

Mr. Kramer, Michael Bloomberg's crude remarks do not necessarily indicate his class position in society. Unfortunately, ordinary workers--including in the TWU--are capable of the same sort of sexism. However, I do find it interesting that he had this sort of profile at Salomon Brothers. If you want to find out more about the "big swinging dicks" at this firm, you might check Michael Lewis's excellent "Liar's Poker".

Jacques David Kramer - 1/22/2006

So let me get this straight--thirty years ago you worked someplace where someone once told you that Mike Bloomberg (or someone who looked like him) once made a comment about a nice ass on a woman? I see--so therefore, give the transit workers whatever they want!

Louis N Proyect - 1/22/2006

What makes you think that Freddy Ferrer was any less tied to the corporate world? To get to the point where you are the Democratic or Republican Party candidate for mayor of NYC, you need to have a track record of serving Wall Street, big real estate and retail businesses. If people had voted 60 percent for Ferrer, it would have amounted to the same thing. Tweedle-Dee. Tweedle-Dum.

If Pataki and Bloomberg had their way, there would be no TWU and subway token clerks would be making the same money as hamburger flippers at MacDonalds. If the Daily News and the NY Post manage to convince the hamburger flippers that they have the same economic interests as Pataki and Bloomberg in opposing the TWU, that just shows the power of propaganda--at least in the short term. In the long term, workers will realize that they have nothing in common with the rich. In a distorted way, the dismal poll ratings for the President and Congress reflect that.

Robert KC Johnson - 1/22/2006

The last I looked, Bloomberg was re-elected with almost 60 percent of the vote, carrying a majority of every voting bloc except for Hispanics. Maybe the people of the city aren't smart enough to vote against someone who's in the pocket of corporations, but I doubt it.

With regard the the TWU, I'd say a pretty sizeable portion of the MTA's ridership (maybe a majority?) is less well-off than the subway workers. Since a bloated contract will certainly mean a fare increase, it seems to me hard to play a class card in analyzing the issue.

Louis N Proyect - 1/21/2006

The city government and the state government are not corporations, but they are in the back pocket of corporations. Bloomberg and Pataki's fulminations against the TWU are not those of impartial public official but those of somebody who act on behalf of big business. This is especially true of Bloomberg who I used to do some computer programming for in the mid 1970s when I was at Salomon Brothers. When an African-American female programmer on my team learned that I would be working for Bloomberg, she gave a sour face. What's wrong, I asked. She said that he is a sexist and racist pig who was infamous for shouting out things like "Look at the tits on her" when a typically Latin or Black female secretary would walk across the trading floor.

Robert KC Johnson - 1/21/2006

But, of course, the taxpayers of New York, the city government, and the state government are not corporations.

By drawing the line in voting no, the likely outcome is that the contract will go to binding arbitration, and TWU workers will wind up with a worse contract than what was rejected.

Louis N Proyect - 1/21/2006

There is a real question of how responsive Toussaint is to the ranks. He was a reformer but became a bureaucrat as many reformers do once in power. In any case, I think it is a very good thing that the trade union movement draws the line on questions such as these. There has been a steady erosion on all sorts of benefits from pensions to health insurance for the past 10 to 20 years--all in the name of protecting profits. Workers are forced to give back things that they once possessed or risk losing their jobs if a company closes its doors. This is a form of corporate blackmail.

Robert KC Johnson - 1/21/2006

Right. But a contract negotiation is usually just that--a negotiation. Neither side gets everything it wanted. The final deal gave the TWU a complete victory on pensions, a bizarre payoff plan that would have allowed some of the strikers to avoid their fines, and pay raises beyond what the MTA's "final offer" entailed. If the anti-contract members take the position that they won't ratify any contract unless the MTA concedes on every issue, I have a feeling they're going to be waiting for a contract for a long time.

Louis Nelson Proyect - 1/20/2006

The authority also agreed to make Martin Luther King's Birthday a holiday, and it dropped its demand that future workers pay 1 percent of their wages toward health premiums. The union's current workers do not pay premiums for their basic health plan.

Mr. Toussaint has said he would steadfastly oppose having workers pay health premiums.

(NY Times, Dec. 23, 2005)


TRANSIT UNION LEADERS approved a contract deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last night, essentially ending an all-out labor war that saw 33,700 bus and subway workers walk off the job last week.

The MTA will be able to start addressing soaring health costs, with workers - who had not had to contribute toward health care premiums - now giving 1.5% of wages for it.

Union dissident John Mooney said he opposed the pact because of the first-ever worker contributions to health premiums, calling it a "dangerous trend."

(Daily News, Dec. 28, 2005)

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