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damn, who'd'a thunk it? - Sisyphus Shrugged
Lasciate ogni speranza and put your feet up.
damn, who'd'a thunk it?
Mr. Bloomberg just lost the Times on the strike
On the final day of intense negotiations, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it turns out, greatly altered what it had called its final offer, to address many of the objections of the transit workers' union. The authority improved its earlier wage proposals, dropped its demand for concessions on health benefits and stopped calling for an increase in the retirement age, to 62 from 55.

But then, just hours before the strike deadline, the authority's chairman, Peter S. Kalikow, put forward a surprise demand that stunned the union. Seeking to rein in the authority's soaring pension costs, he asked that all new transit workers contribute 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions, up from the 2 percent that current workers pay. The union balked, then shut down the nation's largest transit system for the first time in a quarter-century.

Yet for all the rage and bluster that followed, this war was declared over a pension proposal that would have saved the transit authority less than $20 million over the next three years.

It seemed a small figure, considering that the city says that every day of the strike will cost its businesses $440 million to $660 million in lost revenues. But the authority contends that it must act now to prevent a "tidal wave" of pension outlays if costs are not brought under control.

Roger Toussaint, the president of the union, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, said the pension proposal, made Monday night just before the 12:01 a.m. strike deadline, would effectively cut the wages of new workers by 4 percent.

"What they'd be saving on pensions is a pittance," Mr. Toussaint said.

Indeed, not just Mr. Toussaint but some other New Yorkers are questioning whether it was worth it for the authority to go to war over the issue when the authority's pension demands would apparently save less over the next three years than what the New York City Police Department will spend on extra overtime during the first two days of the strike.

Robert Linn, a former New York City Labor Commissioner, questioned the transportation authority's decision - with the backing of the mayor and governor - to go to the mat over pensions with a union that can exact huge pain on the city in a year when the authority had a $1 billion surplus.

The irony of Mr. Bloomberg talking about thuggery after he paid a sizeable bribe out of his own pocket to bring the Republican convention to a city that overwhelmingly didn't want it and then carried out mass arrest sweeps which caught up people who weren't breaking any laws and put them in mass holding cells without medical care or access to their lawyers is probably too obvious to comment on, but I did anyway.

Parenthetically, despite Mr. Bloomberg excusing the utter inappropriateness of the Convention being held here by saying it would help the economy,the city lost a lot of money that week, since the delegates (who appeared, from on the ground, to be deathly afraid of catching New Yorker cooties) never left the endless round of catered events that supplicants to the party in power paid for over the course of the week.

You'd also want to keep in mind that Mr. Bloomberg was very active in tossing out a bid for the MTA-owned land he (and no-one else) wanted used for his pet stadium that would have paid the "cash-strapped" MTA five hundred million dollars more than the bid which "won" when Mayor Bloomberg's and Governor Pataki's appointees voted for it.

Of course, you'd want to keep in mind that Republicans, while disastrous for New York, are really very useful for Mike Bloomberg, multi-billionaire owner of a media company. Useful enough that it was worth close to a hundred million dollars out of his pocket to keep himself in City Hall doing them favors.

I say that for the rest of you, because it's hard for us New Yorkers to forget it.
ahhhs. -- hmmm?
eleanor From: eleanor Date: December 21st, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Just so.

It's beyond me to fathom why the press has not jumped on the fact that the 6% would have saved the city less than the strike is costing. Unless, maybe the MTA actually WANTED the strike?

Not that I'm paranoid or liberal.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: December 21st, 2005 08:02 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
well, my theory is that he's pulling a Pataki, buying a union before the election and leaning on the rest after to prove he's "fiscally responsible"
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 21st, 2005 10:13 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)

From over here in B'klyn

Great post.

I just heard Touissant's press conference. My understanding is that the union is willing to call off the strike as soon as the MTA agrees to put "the illegal pension demands" back on the table. In other words, Pataki and the MTA are holding the ball on this one and they better make a move.

He was eloquent and clear. I think that anyone will be able to understand what is at stake at this strike. My feeling is that the Gov and Bloomberg have overreached themselves. I don't know anyone who, no matter how irritated (and this has NOT been fun!), who isn't in support of the union.
jmhm From: jmhm Date: December 22nd, 2005 02:06 am (UTC) (linkie thing)

Re: From over here in B'klyn

Yeah, me neither.

Bloomberg is just never going to understand New Yorkers.
shunn From: shunn Date: December 22nd, 2005 03:02 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
Well said. This is why my mouth falls open in disbelief and I lose the ability to speak when my good liberal New Yorker friends start talking about how Bloomberg really hasn't been such a bad mayor, in fact a pretty good one. If the Democrats could only field someone stronger than Ferrer.
selinakyle47 From: selinakyle47 Date: December 22nd, 2005 07:05 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
It's a bit hard to tell from the media coverage if New Yorkers are pissed off at the strike or if they're supportive. What does it look like from there?
jmhm From: jmhm Date: December 22nd, 2005 07:36 pm (UTC) (linkie thing)
pretty much everyone I've run into (and certainly everyone at work) thinks Bloomberg is playing games. I get the impression that the people they'e been interviewing are pretty much everyone who looks malcontented.
ahhhs. -- hmmm?