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Defending the TWU

UPDATE: They're going back to work.

The Transport Workers Union shouldn't really need defending, especially from ostensive liberals, but Steve Gilliard responds forcefully to those who are criticizing the TWU for striking (up to and including calling for the imprisonment of the union's leadership):
I've been reading posts for two days and frankly, some of you should shut the fuck up and listen to your own blather.

...what amazes me is the idea that a college degree makes you part of the deserving middle class and the peons of the TWU are morons ... Well, any asshole can go to college, and I met more than a few there. But not any asshole can repair a subway car or bus which has thousands of people on it. It takes a trained mechanic, and one who shows up sober and ready to work. Lives depend on it. Your lives.

All of you who want to fire these hard working, responsible people, better realize that they are hand picked. A lot of people apply for Transit, there's a backlog. But they can pick and choose who they hire and their safety record and employee behavior reflects that...

Let's get something straight: the transit worker is far more important than you and is paid accordingly. They can find bond traders a dime a dozen at Wharton. They can get graphic designers from any Pratt or SVA class. Your so-called special skills, your highly refined ability to shovel paper makes you replaceable.

But a reliable, dedicated man or woman who moves thousands of people a day is not so easy to find. You can't replace them cheaply. A bus driver is in demand, so are good mechanics, as anyone who has a car knows. Good mechanics get a lot of business. Well, the MTA hires excellent mechanics, people who could work on their own and make more money...

There's word that the state may go to court to freeze people's bank accounts to pay their Taylor Law fines. In short, starve families to end the strike.

...Instead of urging people to talk, to get back to the table and make a deal, they want to be big men and swing their dicks around. Which is an abdication of their duties. The louder they talk, the more they threaten, the more they inflame racial tensions. They are blind to this, but the black people I've talked to and heard say that a white union would never be attacked in such a vile manner.

...Let me explain about the health care and pensions.

A TWU member is far more likely to use their health care than most people. When you compare them to cops, remember, cops have unlimited sick time, you can take hundreds of days at a time. The reason they don't want to kick in for their health care is simple: once they do, the costs will only go up, and considering that they are exposed to all manner of chemicals and waste, that means a decrease in salary. While people have been whining about this, remember, people with dangerous jobs usually don't pay for their health care in this city.

The pensions are hardly generous. Given the physical nature of their work, 55 is pretty old to be laying track or even sitting in a token booth for hours on end. much less walking the platform. We demand much from them and they claim that their workers die at 60, with bus drivers dying at 57.

These are hard, demanding jobs and a lot of people who are sneering at them are simply clueless as to what is involved ... A lot of people who call themselves liberals still need to feel superior than other people, to feel that they got something from college besides binge drinking.

I think a lot of people don't realize that workers don't strike at the drop of a hat. This strike might be inconveniencing a lot of people, but it's no picnic for the workers either, especially considering the threats being made against them. Workers don't generally want to strike; it's a last resort when the consequences of not doing so are unacceptable. So when someone questions whether or not a strike is justified, 99% of the time the answer is going to be yes.

UPDATE 2: Incidentally, there's a fascinating little public spat going on over at Gilliard's blog between Steve and his S.O., Jen, who opposes the strike and resents being called a racist (Jen is white). It's kind of unseemly, but interesting in a voyeuristic sort of way.

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