Once Democrats were proud to be pro labor.
People who work should be unanimous in their support of this brave and traditionally militant union. They have chosen to hold the line on protecting pensions and healthcare for workers and have refused to cave in and accept a contract that will deliver more profits to a tiny, fantastically privileged minority. Everyone but the ultra rich should recognize that a strong union standing up for wages and benefits protects the well being of all of us; sets a comparative standard that strengthens labor bargaining positions as well as wage standards for those not organized.
In coverage of the strike it is especially disgusting to see billionaire leaders, like Bloomberg, denouncing the “greed” of workers who start at $34,000 a year. Try living in NYC on $34,000.
You can’t find fair coverage of the strike in the New York media. For a refreshing, pro worker view, try this article, “New York City transit workers defy threats and strike” from the World Socialist Web Site. When you've read it draw your own conclusions about which coverage is more credible.
Here are a few paragraphs:
...The walkout represents the biggest class confrontation in the US in a generation. The issues at stake are not peculiar to transport workers or public employees, but reflect the general drive to destroy wages, working conditions and benefits of workers throughout the economy, from the airlines to the auto industry.Link
This strike was by no means something the union bureaucracy wanted. It has been provoked by the MTA as part of a wider strategy to slash spending on public employee compensation. Within New York’s ruling establishment, a conscious decision has been taken to make an example of the TWU.
On the part of transit workers, however, frustration over declining living standards in what is one of the world’s most expensive cities and anger at systematic disciplinary abuse by the MTA have been joined by a deep-felt resistance to the agency’s attempts to wipe out gains won by workers through decades of struggle.
The key issue that has forced the strike is management’s demand for a roll-back of pension rights, forcing newly hired workers to stay on the job until age 62, instead of the current 55, before collecting a pension. No similar demand for pension givebacks has been made against any other public employee union in the city, and the ultimatum has provoked particular anger among transit workers, whose life expectancy is among the lowest of any section of the workforce.
This confrontation has laid bare the immense class divide in New York City, the center of world finance capital. In the run-up to the walkout, the public has been subjected to the spectacle of various billionaires—from Michael Bloomberg, who bought his way into City Hall, to MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow, a prominent real estate mogul, to Rupert Murdoch, owner of the New York Post—denouncing workers who start at salaries of $34,000 for their “greed.”
Bloomberg demanded that transit workers face a “new world” in which pensions and health care costs are to be paid by the workers themselves, so that the savings can be funneled into the immense profits and incomes of the social class that he personifies....
Personal note: My own union, Local 333, a New York boatmen’s independent affiliate of the International Longshoremen, was brought to its knees by tactics later shown to be illegal, in a strike in 1985. Throughout my career, tugboat men I met in ports everywhere said 333 set the wage standard for all ports and that it was fear of our union that kept their wages, union and non union, higher than they would be without us. The companies knew this and knew how important it was to break us so wages and benefits could be made lower throughout the industry.
If you are inconvenienced by this strike, I urge you to look beyond personal difficulty and support these brave working people.