Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Transit Strike 

I feel for the people of New York right now, seeing as how their city has been crippled by a transit strike. But I also feel for the striking workers, who are fighting for their pensions and health care; taking a stand to not being treated like shit by our corporate overlords.

Once upon a time in America, corporations treated their employees like assets. There was an unspoken contract -- the peons would give their time and loyalty to the corporation for their entire working life. In return, the company would take care of them, with benefits, vacations, overtime, bonses, health care, and so on. Corporate culture somehow understood one important fact: without their employees, they would be nothing. All those quarterly profits that they had to report to the shareholders came from the workers, not management.

Along the way, corporations lost sight of this fact. They began to worship their income, not their workers. And, in a Looking-Glass world, they started to think of their employees as liabilities. Forgetting that their workers were the ones who created their bottom line, the suits upstairs fell into an "Us vs. Them" mindset. And, slowly, all those employee benefits eroded. Benefits. Vacations. Overtime. Bonuses. Health Care. I've heard horror stories of companies that have manipulated their workers' status in order to squeeze fifty or sixty hours a week out of them for the same rate of pay that they got at forty hours; companies that have pulled the "flex-time/freelance" BS in order to eliminate benefits; companies that have decided vacations should not be paid. And on and on and on. The end result is that employees have absolutely no loyalty to their employers -- and why should they? The overlords haven't earned it.

A particularly bitter pill when the executives (who do exactly nothing) get six-figure bonuses, while the peons are lucky to not be laid off at year end.

Which brings me back to the transit strike in New York. Does it suck for the average New Yorker that the subways and buses aren't running? Hell yes. But, instead of bitching about the strikers, they should think of this: Yes, life in New York sucks without these workers working. Meaning -- aren't these workers very valuable? In a single gesture, the Transit Workers have shown New York and the world exactly how important they are.

Every Transit Company executive could call in sick tomorrow, and no one would notice. But the subway operators, bus drivers, token sellers, etc. ad infinitum, take a day off, and suddenly life is hell.

Meaning... Michael Bloomberg can go fuck himself. People of New York... show your blue collar roots. Suck it up and understand. It's the transit workers who are important in your lives. And, daily, New York city handles 1/3rd of the public transit traffic in the country.

Translation: the Transit companies are making billions off your daily commute. But the people who actually get you from Point A to Point B are getting screwed. All they want is a piece of the pie. Give them that. Give them their pensions, and their fair retirement age. That's all they're asking.

As for stikes... in California a couple years back, grocery workers struck against the big three Supermarket chains. The stike lasted five months. Now, being a union-boy, I couldn't cross a picket line, so I shopped at a market that didn't have union employees -- but which, oddly enough, treated their workers far, far better than those at the union shops. And still do. Yeah, sure, it sucked for a week to have to shop at a different market --- but during the second week, I was rooting for the non-union checkers, who were, frankly, much better than the asshats at my former store.

Anyway... the short version is this. Your transit operators deserve benefits. They've proven that in a single act. And the bigwig fucknuts who own the system can just suck it up and pay out. As you climb across the Brooklyn Bridge, know this: You're climbing not because of the transit workers, but because of the Richer than God asshats who won't give them their due. Hey, don't believe me? Check out the P/L statements for the Transit Companies in January. Taking a header here, but I'll bet that "P" wins out big time over "L".


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