Re: [OPE-L] Transit Workers in New York City

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Dec 22 2005 - 10:18:35 EST

Hi Paul Z,

Insofar as this strike has wider implications, I think that two
issues should be emphasized:  1) this is part of a national and
international trend to shift benefit costs (in this case, health
care and pension costs) to workers and thereby effectively lower
wages; 2) while the Taylor Law is specific to New York
State, in many other locations and nations strikes by "public
employees" are illegal. This is the case for many federal employees
in the US: remember what happened to the air traffic controllers union
(PATCO) when they went on strike when Reagan was President? That
union-busting ushered in the "concessions movement" of the 1980's.
So, I think this _is_ a very important strike which will have
implications way beyond New York.

But, I believe unfortunately that the Local 100 TWU leadership will
accept a concessionary agreement.  Indeed, there are indications
as I write this message now that the strike is in the process
of being settled.

I raised this topic for discussion on another list (aut-op-sy)
and I am including below a section of a post by "flint" which
has some statistics which put the union demands in perspective
and which confront the anti-union propaganda being pushed by the
state and the media.

Now I'm going to leave my apt. and join the picket line!

In solidarity, Jerry

I've got a short article up on the strike over at

For the class composition crowd, here is a bit on salaries...

And if you say "there is no middle class" or whatever, yeah, yeah... I know.

"You've got people making $50, 000 and $60, 000 a year keeping people
who are making $20, 000 and $30, 000 a year from being able to earn a
living. That's just not acceptable." While I just scoff at Bloomberg's
crocodile tears for the poor since he has a net worth of over $5
billion, people who do earn little in New York City may repeat his

For 4, 005, 480 workers, the median hourly rate was $18.39. So for
those working a 40 hour work week... that would be a bit over $38,
November 2004 Metropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage
Estimates; New York, NY PMSA.

The mean wage is actually higher by $2 for the entire metro area than
it is just for New York, NY.

>From the same table is the wage information for transport occupations.

The $60K salaries to TWU workers go to the train operators. The
average salary for an MTA worker is $50K. As you pointed out, average
is not median. For train operators to start at $60K, other positions
in the MTA will have to pay less. Some TWU Local 100 workers salaries
actually start at $34, 000. That would be under the median salary for
metro area. New York City transit workers defy threats and strike.

The starting pay for car cleaners is $29, 958.
Village Voice: MTA Strike: The Politics of No-Tomorrow{B7B64A0A-A600-4129-B3D4-C03D985DC0A3}&DE={C6C14238-E984-422F-B403-79602121D54E
While we are talking salaries, Peter S. Kalikow, raised the annual
salary of the authority's highest-paid officer, Katherine N. Lapp, to
$235, 000 from $192, 500.
Facing Deficit, M.T.A. Gave a 22% Raise to Its Director;f=23;t=007453;p=0

"Middle-class incomes in New York, according to the Fiscal Policy
Institute, a labor-funded group, have declined by 11.9 percent
relative to inflation in the past 13 years. By contrast, incomes for
the top-fifth of New York earners have increased by 26 percent.
Inflation runs close to 5 percent in the city, and housing prices have
shot up 85 percent."
In Pricey N.Y., Transit Workers Feeling Pinched.

The Washington Post also referred to the TWU strikers as making the
median (not average) income for NYC.

Let's get back to the salarie raises. "With the transit workers' union
demanding raises above inflation, Mr. Kalikow raised his wage offer so
that raises would average 3.5 percent a year for three years, up from
3 percent in his previous offer. Just hours before the strike
deadline, the authority's chairman, Peter S. Kalikow, put forward a
surprise demand that stunned the union. Seeking to rein in the
authority's soaring pension costs, he asked that all new transit
workers contribute 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions, up
from the 2 percent that current workers pay."
Times: In Final Hours, M.T.A. Took a Big Risk on Pensions{B7B64A0A-A600-4129-B3D4-C03D985DC0A3}&DE={8EEF2A3F-F3F3-4762-B3F7-81535CA5FEC5
So... +3.5 percent pay increse, but -4 percent pay for pensions = -0.5
percent raises. Let's not forget about inflation!

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