Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike in NYC

Bre and I decided to go to NYC this year during the holidays to see some friends and have a romantic little getaway in the big city. Little did we know that the day we arrived there would be a massive transit strike that has all but crippled the city's commute, economy, and holiday spirit.

Politically, the city is pretty divided about the strike; it seems that the majority of New Yorkers are against the strike, and who could really blame them? The strike has literally halted holiday shopping and has put a major kink in commuting to work (this is also a hidden blessing for those lucky enough to have a flexible schedule, but really sucks for those that don't), not to mention the fact that we tourists can't actually tour around the city. The mayor has come out and called workers every name in the book, and has repeatedly pointed at the fact that this strike is illegal according to the union's contract.

All this said, I am completely in favor of the transit strike. Unions are vital to a happy and fair workplace; unions have literally paved the way to fair treatment of minority, women's, and children's rights, and have insisted that each person's voice is heard and represented. I believe that one of the essential rights of unions should always be to strike if they feel they are being unjustly treated, a right that has been stripped from the public services. Although this is an extremely inconvenient time for the strike, what better time than this do the unions have to be heard?

The majority of the news coverage here has focused on the mayor's insistance that the strike is illegal, which has been followed by vicious mudslinging towards the workers. Where is the news coverage for the strike's supporters? A recent poll has said that 38% of New Yorkers are in favor of the strike--yet I have not heard word one from the general public in favor of the strike in the news.

What I fear will result is a very angry public backlash as soon as the union members return to their very public workplaces. People are getting pissed here in NYC that they have to walk to and from work (cabs are outragiously expensive and virtually impossible to arrange) in the freezing-ass cold; even the union supporters are starting to get pissed at the inconvenience of it all. It is a bit like a blizzard in terms of its affects on the city. For the first day it was novel and entertaining--a break from the routine; as time has worn on so have people's patience and their pocketbooks, as cab fares are jacked to ridiculous rates and cabin fever sets in.

Despite this fact, we have managed to have a great time in New York. We have spent quality time with friends that we might not have enjoyed had we been able to get to Manhattan. We have played games, talked, read, and relaxed--in the city that (usually) never sleeps.

When all is said and done, we will walk away with memories from an historical time in NY, and we will have made better friends to boot.

Go Union!


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