Bloomberg Steps Up
Mayor Bloomberg wisely heeded my advice yesterday (well, okay, he may have come up with it on his own...) and asked a judge to enjoin the Transit Workers Union from mounting their planned criminal strike, slated to kick off Friday morning if contract negotiations with the MTA continue to stagnate. The judge, Justice Theodore T. Jones Jr. of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, granted the preliminary injunction.
From The New York Times:
The city's request would mean that on the third day, the union would face a $4 million fine and each striker a $100,000 fine. Transit workers' average pay is $55,000 a year, including overtime.
The issues at issue are the rate of salary increase under the new contract (the TWU wants 24% over three years) and the age at which pensions kick in (the TWU wants it lowered to 50).
To borrow a couple of points from my previous post, Bloomberg's move reflects the same tactic employed by Mayor Giuliani to prevent a similarly devastating, similarly illegal transit strike in 1999. The Taylor Law, enacted in 1967, specifically forbids public employees and employee organizations from engaging in, causing, instigating, encouraging, or condoning strikes.
"A strike would pose enormous risks to the city and impose serious economic losses on all businesses and residents," said Michael A. Cardozo, the city's corporation counsel. "The city intends to hold the union and its members responsible for their conduct to the full extent provided by law."
Darn right. During the 1999 standoff, Giuliani estimated the citywide impact of the threatened illicit strike would've been $25 million per day. Bloomberg's 2005 estimate is that a strike would wreak an economic cost of up to $660 million per day in lost corporate revenues.
The last time such a lawless, dangerous, and economically disastrous strike took place in New York was 1980, when Democratic Mayor Ed Koch framed the argument bluntly, telling The New York Post, “Stand up! Stand firm! Don't give away the city because of an illegal strike. Don't let these bastards bring the city to its knees by engaging in an illegal strike.”
I'm not unsympathetic to transit workers, who work difficult, often thankless jobs, performing vital services for a complex city on systems as much as a century old (a problem for another day). But they did vote to authorize their union leaders to call for this illegal, irresponsible strike in order to gain leverage against the city and their employer - leverage unavailable through legitimate negotiation. By standing up to the TWU's illicit tactics, the Bloomberg administration has fought back on behalf of the city's fiscal solvency, not to mention its corporate community, tourism, and public safety.
Strong work, Mike.
Previously: New York's Looming Illegal Transit Strike
Handcrafted by Flip on December 14, 2005 |
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