With the MTA and the transit workers union still in contract negotiations, every day without an agreement is another day for the media to help us freak out about the possibility of a strike. The NY Times details what is at stake for both parties. Basically, the MTA wants "flexibility in work assignments, tighter sick leave rules and less substantial health care and pension benefits for future employees". Flexibility as in being able to combine the jobs of train operator and conductor into one (hello, OPTO!) and the former token booth workers to "answer questions - to dust and wipe down the booths, empty trash cans and do other 'cleaning functions' around MetroCard vending machines; tighter sick leave as in halving sick days to six per year; less health care and pension benefits as in new employees paying new premiums and only getting benefits at 62 (versus the current 55). The transit union's main concern seems to be getting higher wages that will offset inflation - and not accepting the MTA's new demands. There seems to be some unhappiness with the president of the Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, Roger Touissant, over the last contract negotation in 2002 (wage freeze the first year of the three year contract), so if he concedes too much this time around, he may be out in the next union election.

amNew York looked at the 1980 transit strike today: Mayor Koch told workers to have a martini after work, companies booked hotel rooms for employees (increasing the population by 500,000), and people, after walking to work in "inappropriate footwear," soon turned to...sneakers! [Mayor John Lindsay was given a transit strike on his first day on the job in 1966.] And our readers would love to telecommute to work.

Photograph of New Yorkers commuting during the 1980 transit strike from the AP