It would be a mistake to classify Bloomberg's November 4 mayoral reelection win as anything but a defeat for the working people of New York City. At the same time, however, there is no reason to despair; on the contrary the election results represent a basis for optimism moving forward.
First, to dispense with the obvious: Although the billionaire representative of Wall Street, big developers and the Republican Party won, New York City elected John Liu comptroller, marking the first time in this city's more than 400 year history any Asian American has held citywide office. Further, a grand people's coalition formed around Liu: his campaign was composed essentially of the city's entire labor movement; the African American, Latino and Asian communities; women; youth; the LGBT community and a large percentage of white liberals.
Wednesday brought the welcome news that Matthew Long, the son of Conservative Party boss Mike Long was released from the hospital. Matthew Long was seriously injured in an accident while riding his bike to work during the transit strike.
It’s ironic that this occurred the same week, that Westchester State Senator Nick Spano introduced a bill would require the MTA to pay half of the strike fines levied against the TWU for illegal strikes, strikes like the one that was indirectly responsible for Matthew Long’s injuries.
After five months and 15 surgeries, New York city firefighter Matthew Long was discharged from New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell today, although his rehabilitation is far from over.
Long, of Ladder Company 43 in East Harlem, sustained multiple fractures and internal injuries after being hit by a bus on Dec. 22 - the final day of the city’s transit strike. Although he had been training for a triathlon, Long says that he would have driven his car to work, among bus drivers familiar with New York streets, had the Metro Transit Authority been operating normally.
Long’s story has become a rallying cry for those opposed to the Transit Workers’ Union and the December walk-out.
Many people refer to a jail sentence as a state-funded vacation or taxpayer-funded vacation. Regarding Roger Toussaint's taxpayer subsidized vacation that begins today and will last for the next ten days in a Brooklyn jail cell, I was wondering, is he being paid for his time served or is he taking vacation time?
Considering how irresponsible the strike was, how many people were harmed, either physically or financially, and how many people's lives were turned upside down by Toussaint's leading this illegal strike, it's fair to ask if he will also be penalized by the TWU.
After all, the union did not escape unharmed either. $2.5 million in direct fines and the loss of their dues check off from transit workers paychecks might cripple the union indefinitely. Not that I'm crying for the union, but it would be the height of arrogance if Toussaint continues to collect his paycheck while serving his jail sentence.
The transit strike that occurred in December crippled the city, ruined the holiday season for some businesses, and cost quite a bit of money for the city. Still, I believe that Roger Toussaint made a horrible calculation. Of course the MTA was not negotiating in good faith, but what did he expect? And, why did Toussaint fail to understand that he would lose the battle and the public? How, exactly did he expect to move a lame duck administration through a strike action? I believe that the TWU had a right to be have some action, but, as I stare out of my window this morning, I pose this question -- how many more people would have been supportive of the strike action if it had been delayed until April 16th?
During the transit strike, defenders of the TWU when asked why the union was striking while other municipal unions did not strike even as negotiations dragged on for years, fell back on one defense - that the TWU had a policy of no contract - no work. Now even at the time, this was a pretty weak argument for so called progressives to make - "tradition requires a strike". But now, as we are in the 5th month of no contact, I'm wondering what happened to no work? Even the anti-Toussaint militants aren't demanding an immediate strike . Has this important policy gone the way of the token?