Since negotiations between the MTA and the TWU started way back in Ocotober the threat of a strike has loomed, and loomed, and loomed. And now the thinkable has happened. After a 25-minute address at the Javitz Center from TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint yesterday, more than 6,000 members of the union voted to illegally strike next week if an agreement with the MTA can not be reached in time.
As Toussaint argued it, the members of the TWU have three options if the MTA's offer is unacceptable:
• Accept the MTA's contract offer, which includes a 3% raise in the first year and a nonguaranteed 2% raise in the second year.
"You will never be able to look into your children's eyes again and say you did the right thing," Toussaint said.
• Follow other unions and work without a pact.
• "Follow the best traditions of Mike Quill," the former TWU leader who led a strike in 1966.
So strike it is. If an agreement isn't reached then it looks like next friday will be an impromptu holiday for many. Meanwhile the Times takes a look at the internal politics within the TWU and the MTA that are making things so tense. On the TWU side there seems to be some serious factions which are goading already strike-friendly Toussaint on. While in the MTA there seems to be a strong desire to play hardball, of sorts. For instance, real-estate developer and MTA chairman Peter S. Kalikow has "not yet joined the bargaining." Huh?
We just aren't sure a strike, or even such persistent threats of a strike as we've been getting for months now, will have the desired effect in the end. We love and respect our transit workers, we do. They perform a hard, dirty, necessary and often thankless job that keeps the city bustling. No question. And many of their claims are more than legitimate. But so are many of the MTA's (a fact we hate to admit). We wonder if public opinion will stick with the transit workers when the whole city essentially has to walk to work (personally we're kinda excited as we like walking to work... have we mentioned we like bridges?). What do you think, if no agreement is made should the transit workers strike?