Thursday, December 22, 2005

Strike Day 3: A DovBear Editorial

It's telling that many of you who deplore the difficulties and inconviniences created by the transit strike taking place in NY, have failed to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the strike.

According to the newspapers, the MTA has subjected New York City to a transit strike in the name of trying to get current workers to agree to have new workers put 6 percent of their pay toward pensions.

This demand, though not unreasonable on the face, is actually an attack on the pensions of all public workers. If accepted, the proposal will create divisive contract with different benefits for new workers versus existing workers. Seen in this light, the MTA's proposal is a pretext for weakening unions.

That's intolerable, and the transit workers are right to fight it.

Unions are the only ones doing anything to stem the declining standard of living for working people. A few generations ago, during the nostalgic 50s, a blue-collar worker could expect to own his own house and retire in comfort. Those days are gone, and they are gone, in part, because unions have been weakened. Workers' rights, pay and pensions have eroded as unions have eroded.

Many of you express a great deal of anxiety over the transit workers willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern, and I share it. But I also share the concern of working people -ordinary, honest, uneducated people - who worry about their job security, benefits, pension and health care, and I understand that without strong unions these people are put in serious jeapordy.