"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."


New York Transit Union to Vote on Ending Strike - New York Times

Glad to hear that the state mediators have taken a big step forward for bringing the MTA and TWU into consensus. With any luck, tomorrow will be a semi-normal subway day.

I found this graph to be interesting:

[The settlement] would allow Gov. George E. Pataki to save face because the final negotiations would not take place until the strikers return to work, the people said, and it would apparently allow the union's president, Roger Toussaint, to save face because, they believe, the authority's pension demands - which are at the crux of the deadlock - have been significantly scaled back.

It's disengenuous for the Times to paint this as being all about pride. For Toussaint, isn't about saving face, it's about securing the wages and benefits of his union's members.

Pataki (and Bloomberg), on the other hand, really are just saving face. With this deal they'll be able to say they didn't "back down" in the face of the strike.

Also, while I don't think the Taylor law is a good law (any law that takes away the right of a worker to withold their work is too restrictive) I also thought this was interesting:

Mr. Toussaint, at his news conference, reiterated the union's argument that the authority had forced the union to strike by illegally insisting on pension changes. Under the state's Taylor Law, one side cannot make pensions a condition of a settlement. But in 1994 and in 1999, both sides agreed on pension changes.

That's the first time I've heard that bit of information. It's been clear that the TWU is politically outclassed in terms of waging the media war over this strike. They were late out of the gate in terms of their message -- letting the MTA, Pataki and Bloomberg frame the stike nearly completely -- and they have a pretty uneven job of informing the public over the past few days.

Bloomberg and Pataki are info-war veterans, and they have had both the city tabloids solidly at their backs in this. They've both used their bully pulpits to wage the public relations battle. In light of all that, I'm sorta surprised that in spite of this, public support remained very high for the TWU:

In a WWRL poll, 71% of respondents blamed the MTA and only 14% blamed the transit workers.

More on public opinion here.

Though, really, once I think about it, it shouldn't be surprising. Most NYers use the mass transit system every day, which is why when it's taken away they suffer. But it also means they have a lot of contact with the people who make that system operate. I don't think that most people really want to run over striking workers with their carpool cars (as a couple lawyers were quoted as considering yesterday in an AP story). I think most people understand that transit workers work very hard in rather unpleasant conditions to make this city hum, and they want the workers to be paid well. They want them to be dedicated professionals. They want them to be able to support their families and communities with steady middle-class jobs. Most folks like the shiny new cars, but find the robotic station announcements to be kind of a downer. Most folks like that the transit system is human.

Now, there are a lot of people in NY who are a little more upper-crust who don't necessarily feel that way. You know these people; they're the ones who get upset when anything isn't just exactly right; the ones who really are used to dealing with certain people as "the help"; the ones who will literally throw their credit card at you across the counter when you couldn't find all three books they wanted to buy.

But those people are a minority. An influential and powerful one, to be sure, but a rather clear minority of the overall population. The city is not the upper east side. Thank god.