Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fire the Transit Workers

I hope Mayor Bloomberg has what it takes to do the right thing and fire the NYC transit workers a la Ronald Reagan's canning of air traffic controllers.

Even aside from all the obvious arguments about why this is wrong, including their stability in a government mandated monopolistic job and the fact that they are no less essential to the city functioning than the police department, what do the unions think they'll get out of this? They've been slapped with a contempt fine of $1,000,000 a day, which will cost the average Ralph Cramden who has to pay for it with his fees. They're not getting any sympathy from New Yorkers, or won't if this goes on much longer. And the fact that they already agreed not to strike when they took their jobs in the first place means that they can no longer be trusted at the bargaining table to keep their word about anything. This is a suicide move by out of touch union leadership who think the "rightness" of their cause is more important than the inevitable and disastrous consequences that will result from it.

Public unions have to force people to join them by law. Private unions haven't prevented layoffs at Boeing, AT&T, GM, or anywhere else. The only good thing about this strike is that it will continue to weaken the labor movement which passed the point of usefulness sometime back in the 50s.


Cabe said...

Amen Brother.

SirWhoopass said...

I don't think a direct comparison can be made.

The FAA had a plan ready for the air traffic controllers' strike. It did require a reduction in service, but it did not stop air travel. In addition, about 25% of union members did not strike. That gave Reagan what he needed to make his ultimatium (he gave union members 48 hours to return to work before firing them).

Their demands were also much more absurd (an across-the-board $10,000 raise plus a reduction in working hours from 40 to 32 per week). The transit workers are sticking over a change in their pension plan. It is noteworthy that the same law that makes it illegal for them to strike also forbids the MTA from bringing pension changes to the negotiation table.

NYC, obviously, had no back-up plan for the transit strike. Firing all the 34,000 workers would probably end up in a bigger disaster than the strike. Workers are already returning, full service may return by the weekend. Training that many replacements would take weeks or months.

Orrin Johnson said...

There are certainly differences. But there are also enough similarities to be instructive. For instance, that's what ultimatims are for. Maybe it will get the city to prepare a contingency plan. And I think it would have prevented future strikes of this type. It may take a long time to re-train people, but I bet more than 25% of them would have returned to work. And I bet even those fired, assuming they were allowed to re-apply, would prefer that to starving.

I'm glad it was resolved after the union leaders showed the deep yellow hue of their spines and told their workers to go back just before the leadership was tossed in jail. I'm glad for the economy and people of NYC. But I hope the city presses its case against the union leadership, and extracts PERSONAL (not from the union dues-payers) fines and even jail time. This could have been a lot worse.

SirWhoopass said...

I assumed you were proposing the full course taken by Reagan, where no fired workers would be rehired (Congress even recommended that they be allowed to reapply, and the administration refused).

I completely agree on taking the union leaders to task. Four PATCO leaders were jailed for the air traffic controllers' strike.