The New York City transit strike was about one thing and one thing only: Racial Hatred. If we had a Black or Latino mayor no strike would have been called. Time and again the Transit Workers and their minority leadership said the strike was about “respect and dignity” and neither of those terms have anything to do with salary or health and pension benefits. The transit workers’ strike against the City of New York was Racist and rotten at its core. Respect and dignity, in the sense the union was referencing, is a street term and not an intellectual argument for higher wages.
Respect and dignity are about power and control and your color and when a minority position finds itself in a power struggle against the White majority, no good can come of it when the major bargaining point of the minority isn’t pension but “respect and dignity.”
This strike was about disrespecting the White Father and it was done in the name of welfare and salary and that is wrong. Six days ago I wrote about the New York City Transit Strike Fake-Out and I am sad to report today how right I was then. Yes, there was a “strike” but it was petty and half-hearted and its intent was to hurt all New Yorkers but it was cruelest to the minority majority in New York because those are the people who rely on busses and trains the most in New York City. By trying to force respect and dignity from the White Man, the union punished their own and received what in the end?
There’s no contract. There’s no benefits increase.
Transit workers lost three days of pay for each day out (no pay a day for not working on top of a fine of two days pay for that missed day) and their union’s $3 million reserve fund was eaten away by a Black judge who warned the union beforehand he would fine them if the union broke the law and called a strike. We are a nation of laws and no union is above the bounds of the law. The judge fined the union at the rate of a million dollars a day when they went lawless. We know this strike was an emotional conspiracy about Race and not an intellectual argument over money because the International parent union of the local union went to court to make it clear they did not support or authorize a strike.
The international union liked how the negotiations were progressing with the MTA and found no reason to leave the table and declare a strike. Perhaps with the local union bankrupt of money, ideas and leadership, the international union can step in and bring some sanity back to the worker’s union. The tide began to turn against the union when it was revealed the average price for bus and train drivers was already $60,000 a year with many making over $100,000 a year. The “working class” argument of the union bosses quickly dissipated with that news and suddenly the name of Rosa Parks was invoked to explain why the union broke the law and went on strike.
The union leadership miserably and faintly tried to argue there is a higher calling than the law — and I agree there is such a higher calling, but it doesn’t get called from the hands of those grubbing $60,000 a year to drive a bus or train — and, like Rosa Parks, the union claimed they needed to squeeze respect and dignity, not more money, out of the MTA. For the union to use the historic civil rights action of Rosa Parks to meet such a narrow and selfish and shallow monetary end earns no respect and curries zero dignity. The mayor called the local union leaders “thugs” and he was right.
Their thuggery was evident from the first threat of an illegal strike and the union leadership’s attempt to spin the mayor’s words against him by claiming the mayor was calling the workers themselves thugs — he was not — set the stage for a long litany of conspiracy theories and misguided boogie men meant to scare the striking workers instead of getting them a non-emotional improved contract.
If the police, firefighters and teachers can work without a contract for three years without striking and then get retroactive pay increases, so can the transit workers. Why did the transit worker leadership think they deserved more special treatment than those civil servants?
The unfortunate answer is Racist arrogance and in their perceived capacity to cripple the integrity of the city with a strike. Well, the strike failed. There is no contract. The MTA is strong. The White Mayor is not bowed. The City lost a billion dollars but we will bounce back stronger in the eye of a misbegotten strike.
You may be able to knock down a New Yorker but we always rise back with more righteous resolve than we had when first struck. New York City survived the pseudo-strike and the transit workers lost precisely what they claimed they needed most in order to avoid a strike: Dignity and respect.