Like most New Yorkers who rely on mass transit to get to and from work, I’ve been closely following the story of the looming strike of all NYC transit workers, which would essentially halt all subway traffic and many of the commuter trains in and around NYC.
While I’m sympathetic to the workers’ desire for higher wages, increased pension benefits and more healthcare coverage, I’m appalled at the Union’s position of being hell-bent on striking and holding the City of New York as their hostage. Unions, in general, have not done well keeping pace with the changing face of business and the role they play in it. They claim to protect the rights of workers, and attempt to do so by threatening strikes and work slowdowns, in an effort to disrupt the businesses that employ their members.
However, I wonder how many MTA workers, aside from the people at the staged rallies, really want to strike, especially in light of a contract offer that does bring them considerable pay increases over the next two years. Are they really looking to be out of work with no income right before Christmas? Do they think the hundreds of dollars they pay each year in union dues are worth all of this? Furthermore, do they realize that a strike will cost small and medium-sized businesses in NYC hundreds of millions of dollars? The strike would hurt all the wrong people, including members of the union.
Unions, in their current state, are becoming more and more irrelevant in today’s economy. To survive, they must reinvent themselves and prove their value by better understanding the economic issues that drive considerations for wage increases and educating their members on how to protect themselves and diversify their capabilities as workers. Unions have a reputation problem and the theatrics being played out in NYC are not helping matters.
As you struggle to get to work in the cold perhaps you can take some comfort in the fact that you are even having this conversation…. here in the UK there are no sentiments that the theatrics of a strike create a reputation problem for unions. Despite the raft of anti-union legislation passed in the 1980’s, strikes, along with go slows and work-to-rule, remain a tactic used, albeit rarely, by unions in their industrial relations. A strike on the London Underground in the week before Christmas was recently averted, but at no point was the action questioned as being an outdated way for unions to attain their goals. In a more striking (pardon the pun) comparison, strikes are something of a way of life France and other parts of Europe. The unemployed in France once famously went on strike and there seems to be a certain pride associated with downing tools.
Everyone forgets one important fact…these bums are already overpaid. Does the public need to be hostage to these easily replaceable parts.
I don’t disagree with the reputation management issue at hand. I DO disagree with the compensation point that RepMan made. Either-
1-The RepMan was misinformed on the MTA’s proposal and made that comment (Possible)
2- The RepMan works for the MTA (doubt that)
3- The RepMan truly believes that 2% is a fair raise, even with a 1 Billion surplus. (Hope not)
4- Or, the comment was written without much thought. (Most likely)
I took your advice. I read your post again. I still think you missed the point.
This is a reputation management issue, not a compensation issue. Your blog focused entirely on the controversy over compensation.
I think it is YOU that missed the point. I’m sorry…did I write that the blog was wrong? Did I make a snide remark like “not suprisingly?” No..if you read my post you would have seen that I wrote this:
For once I have to disagree with the RepMan. You wrote “especially in light of a contract offer that does bring them considerable pay increases over the next two years.”
I disagreed with ONE point he made. My comment was on that ONE point.
So I ask you to take the reading glasses back out and read my post once again.. Then tell me who “not suprisingly” missed the point. I’ll give you a hint…if you turn off your computer screen and the lighting creates the proper reflection, you just might see who it was.
Not surprisingly, you’re missing the point entirely. Repman’s blog has little to do with the issue of fair pay. In fact, he makes specific mention that he’s sympathetic to the worker’s wanting better compensation.
The main point here is that the union’s antics are out of date and largely ineffective – all of which are damaging their reputation and questioning their value. They have to reinvent themselves to stop relying on just one tactic in contract negotiations. The world is changing and unions aren’t changing with it.
For once I have to disagree with the RepMan. You wrote “especially in light of a contract offer that does bring them considerable pay increases over the next two years.” I have been watching the coverage and it seems to me that the MTA has offered a 2% increase to the union over each of the next 2 years, but has also requested a rollback in pension and health benefits. Now, I don’t know what you consider a “considerable pay increase” when it comes to employees, but 2% ain’t much. let’s assume that the average trasit worker makes 50k a year (and that might be very very high) but that amounts to a 1000.00 raise. Take away taxes and your at 750.00, give or take a few bucks. Let’s assume 2 paychecks a month, so 24 per year. That calculates to $31.25 per check. Hmm…do you see the problem. Have you seen the price of gas in the past year…it has gone up more than 2%. Have you noticed your most recent heating bill? Bet that has gone up more than 2% over last year. Overall consumer prices- those are up more than 2% as well. So in actuality, the 2% raise doesn’t even add up to the cost of living increase these workers see. That 31.25 ain’t goin to far. That worst part is that there are reports that the MTA is sitting on a 1 billion dollar surplus if you believe the reports.
So I ask you as a business manager, is that 2% increase really helpful, or maybe, just maybe, the fat cats at the top should stay padding their own cushion and share the wealth with the rank and file. Two final thoughts for the road:
1- The MTA recently announced a raise in fairs. Shouldn’t the brilliant managers have calculated what the union wanted and maybe asked the commutters for a few extra cents a day?
2- That 31.25 calculates out to .78 per hour assuming a 40 hour week. So merry christmas workers, you just made .78 extra per hour if you accept the MTA’s proposal…don’t spend it all in one place!
I have wondered the same thing: do all MTA workers want to strike? Or is this another example of Group Think, where no one wants to go against the grain, so they button up their winter coats and head out into the freezing cold for hours at a time. And to what end? Are they all fighting for the same things? Do they all know the specifics of what they are fighting for? Or, is there such a pressure to conform and illusion of unanimity that it forces those that are not thrilled with the idea of not working right before the holiday season to trudge out into the snow, trying desperately to have their voices heard over the increased congestion and street traffic this strike will undoubtedly cause..