Why Now?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
  The Transit Strike
Others have covered this issue, but this was covered the same way as always by the media: The people "inconvenienced" by the strike, the official talking points, but no coverage of the why the members of the union voted to go on strike.

The problem for the media is that they don't have any "sources" among public workers. They can't flip through their rolodex and find someone they know who can present the reason workers are willing to give up two days pay for every day they are out on strike. They can't talk to the union officials because a "gag order" is the first thing that is imposed.

While the officials of the public agency can't talk, the rest of the local government can go to town and berate the workers for not caring about "the public" who are inconvenienced because the workers are not happy to accept whatever "their masters" deem is sufficient.

The MTA, the agency in charge of the transit system, pushed until they got a strike. While having a billion dollar surplus, they pushed the workers to give up pensions and health care benefits for new workers. This was never about wages. Public workers will never walk out over wages, but the media always paints the workers as greedy.

Workers strike over working conditions, pensions, and health care. That's the way it has always been. If you have a public workers strike in your area, look at the background and you find that the politicians want to do something that puts workers in danger, steals their retirement, or reduces their health care. No one goes to work for the government for the money: it's for the benefits. You work for the government for the security offered by the benefits. It guarantees that you will never be rich, but you and your family can survive in reasonable comfort.

The people in charge these days think that Ebenezer was wrong to change his ways, and want to return to the personnel policies of Scrooge & Marley. These are people who think it is fine to offer pensions, but unreasonable to be required to pay them. They abolished slavery and claimed to be virtuous, but neglected to state that employees were cheaper than slaves. If you own slaves you have to take care of them because they have value in money. If employees get old or sick, discard them and hire someone else. That employees were cheaper than slaves was one of the great economic discoveries of the 19th century.

When you look at the public workers strike, take the time to look at the compensation package of the administrators. If these cuts are such a great idea, why don't they get applied to the top management first? What about the elected officials?


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