Today, I went back to work after having a mini-vacation on Monday and Tuesday (requested and approved long before I thought the MTA strike was going to happen). So, I got dropped off at the Brooklyn Bridge and walked this morning, making the classic NYC MTA strike trek. The walk wasn’t so bad (the uphill direction from Tillary to the first part of the bridge was a tough part and it was sooo cold). I made good time, even for a slowpoke like me.

The evening walk was also not so bad. Again, I made better time than I had expected. At one point, I walked next to a bunch of young people and I happened to overhear their conversation. The girl mentioned something about “If I pop my kneecap, it’d be assault and battery right?” and someone mentioned “torts” and “negligence” – and I was sorely tempted to ask them if they were 1L’s who was escaping or taking a torts final exam. However, I didn’t get to blurt my question since I started lagging behind on the bridge and the kids were moving ahead.

Brooklyn Boro Pres Marty Markowitz cheered people home on the Brooklyn side of the bridge at the evening rush. He invited people to go to Boro Hall and take a bathroom/coffee break. I got a ride back home, once my folks finally met up with me in downtown Brooklyn.

All this walking is going to cause me stiff muscles.

NY Times’ Jennifer Steinhauser reported on Day 1 of the strike, with all the now-familiar soundbites. But one cute quote from her article:

Commuters will also be hoping for a better commute than yesterday’s evening rush madness at Pennsylvania Station. Tens of thousands of confused Long Island Rail Road passengers sought entrance to the station but were directed to one of four entrances – all of them clogged with humanity – that often did not correspond to their departing train.

“How do I get in?” said one woman to the officer. Another passenger, a man, called out “Liz? I think I lost my wife.”

Poor guy. I wondered if he did catch up with his wife amidst the mass of humanity at Penn Station.

NY Times’ Sam Roberts profiles on Taylor and the Taylor Law:

[….] But few names have gained as much currency in the annals of New York lawmaking as George W. Taylor, who gave his name to the state’s famous Taylor Law, which bars public employees in the state from striking and exposes their unions and members to heavy fines.

“This is one law where the legislators didn’t fight to have their name on it,” he later recalled.

Dr. Taylor, a mediator, arbitrator and University of Pennsylvania history professor, was the chairman of a panel appointed by Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller in response to the 12-day walkout by New York City transit workers in 1966.

“I am determined,” Governor Rockefeller said, “that this should never happen again.”

The Taylor Law was passed after workers defied the Condon-Wadlin Act, which mandated the automatic dismissal of striking public employees and barred rehired workers from getting raises for three years. The penalties were regarded as so punitive that they proved unenforceable.

In fact, special legislation introduced by the governor later in 1966 granted transit workers amnesty from most of the penalties, as had been done the year before for city welfare workers.

In 1967, the Taylor Law, while recognizing the right of public employees to bargain collectively, also provided for fines and other penalties against striking unions, their leaders and, as amended in 1969, individual workers. A flurry of strikes ensued after the law was passed as organized labor tested its provisions and a number of unions were penalized. [….]

In all honesty, though, I’m hardly pro-MTA (I rant far too often over their lack of logic and service problems) and I could see how the union has its point – how can you call it a union if you have a two-tier treatment toward the membership? I can appreciate it in the abstract, but it’s hard to see how these two sides can come to a settlement when there’s so much lack of trust. It takes two to tango, after all – so striking means no negotiating and no trust means no deal too. And, who is truly representing the interests of the riders? I can’t say that I trust either side – there are too many (self-)interests involved.

Also, the Day 1 wall-to-wall strike coverage on tv was certainly interesting. I felt a little uncomfortable with how Channel 11 news seemed to air far more anti-labor sentiments and I liked that Channel 7 seemed more even-handed, airing quotes from both a pro-labor commuter (or more anti-MTA) and an anti-labor commuter.

Is it me or does the disparity look a little disparate? NYC court employees had to hoof it to work; Big Law Firm people could take the firm’s specially chartered shuttle bus or the telework from home (especially since Big Law Firm can afford to let work be done from home). At least it’s the holiday season, so there aren’t too many trials scheduled.

Have you done your Christmas cards yet
? Or has e-greetings really taken over?

Johnny Damon, ex-Boston Red Soxer, is now a Yankee. He’s part-Asian, is a self-proclaimed Idiot, and has to shave now that he’s coming to NYC (since Boss Steinbrenner doesn’t like excess facial hair).

Now, let’s see how Day 3 of the Strike will go. Hmm. When can we say “out” to this strike?

The Cost of Doing Business

Day 2 of the strike. P is riding into the city now with a coworker who is driving in at 3:30 am to avoid the HOV-4 rule. It took her 3.5 hours to get home yesterday: upper East Side to Penn Station, LIRR to Jamaica, then Flatbush, then a walk downtown. P’s brother-in-law is a subway conductor who is going on the picket line today not for the money, not for the pensions, but against “sharecropper managers” (his term) that don’t know how to treat their workers well. He’s going without the support of the union’s parent organization, the International.

I like to think that I’m a pretty sympathic guy, and I don’t like people enduring unnecessary hardships. I also understand how people in the public view tend to suffer the slings and arrows of their critics (and how every president since Reagan ends up picking up an independent counsel or two in their second term whatever they do). However, I have not seen so many instances of skirting responsibility in the last 24 hours:

  • One co-worker: “All my friends that could give me a ride moved to New Jersey, so I can’t get to work.” Just about everybody else at work came up with a plan.
  • Another co-worker: “I can’t find a taxi that will drive me over the bridge.” My boss walked all the way from Grand Central over the Brooklyn Bridge – 6 miles.
  • TWU Union Leader: “we won’t sell out our unborn”, meaning snatching defeat from the hands of victory after the MTA started caving from their “final offer”. Could have kept on pressing….
  • governor: “the professionals at the table will resolve this”. What professionals? What table? He’s kidding, right?
  • president: to paraphrase — yes we wiretapped without warrants, even though previously we stated a warrant was always necessary. We didn’t break the law, and even if we did, we told a handful of Congresspeople, so that made it all good and legal, right? Do they have a problem with it? They can’t tell you, and you can’t find out.

This is ridiculous.