As the MTA continues to work on its appeal of the TWU’s arbitration victory, the union is fighting back. Although the transit agency claims it cannot afford to give its workers a mandatory 11 percent raise over the next three years, the union is urging the authority to respect the law. Until now, protests have largely been directed at MTA headquarters and Mayor Bloomberg, who supports the appeal, but next week, Straphangers will begin to fill the effects of a disgruntled TWU.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, TWU members are going to participate in what leadership is calling “A Day of Outrage.” Union heads are calling for the participation of “all divisions, all members,” and the transit slowdown could make for a messy commute. The TWU says they are not asking their members do anything illegal or even anything at all, but that excuse seems far too convenient to me.
Pete Donohue has more about the potential protests:
Straphangers beware: your commute could take longer next Wednesday because of the simmering contract dispute between transit workers and the MTA. A text message urging bus drivers to “slow it down” during a “day of outrage” circulated among drivers in at least four depots on Thursday. “Do everything by the book,” the text message making the rounds urged. “Slow it down. Pass it on.”
Some subway workers told the Daily News they hadn’t received the call to action – but said it wouldn’t take much for underground workers to go on the offensive. “There’s an awful lot of anger out here right now,” a motorman said…
A spokesman last night said the union is not involved in the current texted call to action. “These texts are either made up or intended to misrepresent,” the spokesman said. “They did not originate from TWU directly or indirectly.”
Still, track worker and TWU presidential candidate John Samuelsen said he wouldn’t be surprised if there’s “a spontaneous fight back against what transit workers see as an attack by the MTA. I think the MTA underestimates the resolve of transit workers to take action into their own hands.”
I’ve said this before, and I will say again now: If the TWU starts making life miserable for commuters, they will quickly lose any public support they may have right now. Although I don’t believe the arbitration ruling was a fair one for the MTA and I firmly believe in the MTA’s procedurally and substantial right to seek an appeal, the TWU can make a strong case for public sympathy. The decision, after all, was supposed to be binding. Yet, once the TWU starts messing with the public, riders will respond in turn.
For now, I’m not buying the TWU’s argument that this direction for a slow down didn’t come from the union. They’re actively promoting it on their website. I see that, and I assume a connection as most people would. This is a dangerous game the TWU and MTA are playing against each other, and no matter who wins, the straphanging public may be the biggest losers.