21 December 2005

NYC Transit Strike

Good thing I am no longer in New York City now - the Transit Workers' Union there has gone on strike over pension contributions, stranding commuters in a city that needs its mass transit to function.

The strike couldn't have come at a worse time, considering that last-minute holiday shopping still needs to be done.

The MTA website says the strike is illegal, and it does appear to be, under New York State law for mass transit. The union is being fined $1 million per day. Under these circumstances, only the most extreme and desperate of conditions would lead to a strike, and it appears that this is how the union seems to take it, with pension benefits for workers disappearing in other employers left and right.

I do wish for the strike to end as soon as possible; I just can't picture NYC functioning without its vital subway system. But moreover, I believe that it is worth thinking about the ever-shrinking benefits in corporate America, as well as the government policies that encourage screwing workers over. Without workers, employers from MTA to private enterprise cannot function, and workers are employers' biggest and best asset. They need to be treated accordingly, and be provided fair wage and benefits for fair work; the race to the bottom, and to Third World-dom, that America is currently engaged in, must stop.

It is also worth remembering that greedy insurers have made healthcare and benefits too expensive for employers. Sure, the insurers will blame litigation costs, but insurers are making record profits these days. This needs to change. Some say that this will push Corporate America into favoring a nationalized healthcare system, like the rest of the industrialized world; let's see how that will pan out.