Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Union Busting: New York City Transit Strike Ruled Illegal


NEW YORK (CNN) -- A judge ruled a strike by New York transit workers illegal on Tuesday afternoon, while millions of commuters battled their way home in frigid temperatures.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out at union leaders for "thuggishly" turning their backs on the city, vowing there would be no further contract negotiations until the strike ends.

You tell 'em, Bloomberg!

Judge Theodore Jones ruled Tuesday afternoon that the Transport Workers Union was in contempt of two court injunctions ordering it not to strike, and he ordered that the union be fined $1 million a day beginning Tuesday.

Yes! Fine the shit out of that stupid Union! Talk about collectivism. A union tells you when to strike. A union negotiates with your employer to determine how much you make and works to make all pay equal and fair, making moot any merit-based pay raises you could otherwise argue for. A union prevents a company from laying off people, paying what it wants to pay, or otherwise operating freely. Unions, in America today, are superfluous and counterproductive.

Workers are striking for higher pay and have taken issue with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's plans to require new transit workers to pay more for their health care.

I actually have been working in the insurance industry for 7 years now, so this one line stuck out to me. These people are morons! The only reason employers even offer health care coverage was because during WWII there was a wage freeze in America and to attract employees, companies would offer health coverage in lieu of better pay. It would be much wiser for these transit workers to instead decline health care coverage through their employer and instead get that money put into their paychecks. If they want a group policy so badly then why don’t they have their unions set one up? Maybe they will pay more union fees, but they will be getting bigger paychecks anyway because their employer won't be paying for health care. To have an employer provide all these extra services only ultimately reduces their own paycheck amounts. Why are so many people obsessed with others taking care of their responsibilities for them? Get your own damn insurance policy! I've had people (who don't work in the insurance industry) tell me that you can save money if you get insurance through an employer's group policy. Bullshit. I am on the inside and I know that it's quite the opposite. The employer will only give as much coverage as it thinks it can get away with, and insurance companies make killings on group policies for employees. This is in part due to under utilization, poor product coverage selections, and a lot more red tape.

I don't much like the concept of a strike either. It's like quitting without quitting. What makes one think that one can abandon one's job and still have it waiting for them when they decide to stop striking? Job abandonment is job abandonment, and no striker should ever expect to have a job to go back to when they finish their little tantrum. If I don't like my working conditions, and my employer will not accept work conditions/pay that I am comfortable with, then I am free to quit. I can seek employment elsewhere. The bottom line is that if you break your agreement to work for a company, even if it's only for a strike that lasts a few days, the company should not be expected, nor counted on, to continue to offer employment to you.

In other words, I think all of these transit workers should be fired. I also think that the Transport Workers Union should be refused any recognition from New York City, and that no Transport Workers Union members should be considered for employment by the city ever again.

New York City should go non-union for all of its transportation industry employment needs.

There is another factor involved with striking. It is an attempt by employees to prevent employers from hiring replacement workers. Only with official recognition of unions and their striking power can this tactic be pursued by striking employees. What happens as a result? There are no replacement workers to fulfill the city's transportation needs and therefore thousands of commuters are shit out of luck thanks to a group of assholes that want to abandon their jobs without actually risking their employment status. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

And let this be a lesson to all who work for someone else. If you don't like the working conditions, quit all the way. Don't do a half-assed strike. Remember the words of the wise Mr. Miyagi: "Do Karate yes, safe. Do Karate no, safe. Do Karate 'guess so,' squish! Just like grape."


Imran Anwar said...

I loved your post. My thinking on this whole transit strike and Unions now being a cancer around US business and economy are at:

See you there.


BlackSun said...

Totally agree, Aaron. In fact, I've been buying my own benefits for many years now. In fact a few years ago when I went to work for a company, the insurance totally screwed things up. I'm so glad to be back to just paying for it myself. It keeps things very clear. I think everyone should just get the cash and buy their own benefits.

Re: Striking. It made sense in the days of monopoly capitalism, but not anymore. There are so many job opportunities. Anyone who sticks with one job for a long time these days is pretty much of a sap. You're not going to get ahead with 3-4 percent annual increases. You've got to take a risk and move on. But these union members expect someone else to take care of them and get them raises and better benefits while they take absolutely no risk? It's beyond the pale.

I may not have agreed with President Reagan's rhetoric in general, but boy, when he fired those air traffic controllers, that was badass. People who work in municipal jobs have to understand two words about their employment: public service. You fuck with people's transportation, you're fucking with the economy, and should have to pay damages. End of story.

Francois Tremblay said...

Yea, but public employment is inherently immoral. They take their salaries from coercion, and they are not accountable to anyone.

Aaron Kinney said...

Thanks for the link Imran!


Boy you said it. I was thinking about mentioning the Air Traffic Controller debacle with Reagan but decided not to in the interests of keeping the post shorter. Now I wish I did LOL

And youre right about unions. They have a place in certain circumstances, but not in a free market like this. Well let me clarify: If unions like the Transit and Automotive unions didnt have monopolies on employment for given companies, then things might not be so bad. But then again, if unions didnt have monopolies on job markets in their areas, then they would go extinct due to their superfluousness. Unions are only useful to counter monopolistic capitalism. Nowadays, they themselves are the monopolistic problem.

Suicidolt said...

Great post. I can't stand these bus drivers expecting 60k+ per year for jobs that shouldn't even exist and then complaining about benefits! Retire at 62, 55 retirement is lousy anyhow. On the talk of health care and insurance, you may want to take a look at SimpleCare. $50 in and out, no paperwork necessary. I'm considering it.

Aaron Kinney said...

Libertarian Lobbyist,

Youre right! And regarding insurance, did you know that the industry is actually undercutting itself? For example, Dentists who participate in HMO plans have now been able to offer cash-only prices that are lower than the copays of hte HMO plans themselves due to the paperwork and administrative hassle that the dentists save themselves from when patients pay cash!

Insurance in its current form sucks. Self-administered plans and flat rate plans are so much better than having a big company over your head managing your money for you.

Delta said...

Maybe they will pay more union fees, but they will be getting bigger paychecks anyway because their employer won't be paying for health care.

This makes me think that you believe that employers will freely give more benefits and higher pay to their employees regardless of whether or not they are required to. Seems to be in contrast to your statement that
The employer will only give as much coverage as it thinks it can get away with

It seems to me that places where unions are active the employees have better pay and better benefits. Why wouldn't an employee want this? The workers are the ones who create all the wealth, I see no reason for some rich brat who inherited the company from his daddy to make all the money.

Aaron Kinney said...


I can see where you think I made contradictory statements. I want to clear that up.

An employer will only give what it can get away with whether its insurance coverage or straight wages. The thing is that an employer can only give so much compensation in total before employing someone no longer becomes profitable. If an employer gives insurance coverage, it will have to pay less in straight wages. Conversely, if an employer doesnt have to pay insurance, then the employee will be in a position to barter for higher wages because the employer can pay more and still have a profitable relationship with the employee.

It is better for an employer to only pay straight wages and let the employee figure out how it wants to spend the money in the form of insurance, etc...

And NO, employees who are represented by unions are NOT better off in general. I have been in a union before. They didnt do shit, and the extra wages I got were not based on merit, nor were they even beneficial because I had to pay $150 in union dues a month.

Compare unionized UAW workers that work at GM and Ford to their non-union counterparts that work at Toyota and Honda (who have factories in the US). The Toyota and Honda workers get paid very well, have great job security, and dont strike and bitch and moan as much as the UAW workers do. All in all, the non-unionized workers have it better off than their unionized counterparts.

A union is a monopoly. That is bad for business, period. If unions werent monopolistic, or if you could work in a particular industry without being forced to join the union, then these problems would dissapear. Of course a union would never go along with that because it would take away all their power and essentially destroy them.

Monopolism is the key to unions power. And monopolies are bad for business, even in the employment sector.

Delta said...

Thanks for the response AK.

Of course you're right in that a company can only pay an employee so much before it isn't profitable anymore, but we're nowhere near that mark. I tried to find the statistics online, but I couldn't find the source. Anyhow, when you compare top executive salaries in the U.S. with the average worker it's something like 250 to 1 while more like 17 to 1 in European countries. I see no reason why executive in the U.S. should earn so much while their employees so much less. If companies are having trouble turning a profit it's because the execs are looting the company's resources, not that the employees are too expensive.

I couldn't find any data on the car dealers, so I can't comment on that. But Honda and Toyota are more profitable companies anyway no? I do know that some of Toyota's employees are unionized though, but perhaps not in the U.S.

And NO, employees who are represented by unions are NOT better off in general

The salaries are higher in general though, at least as reported by the Dept. of Labor. And I don't think unions would survive if they weren't monopolistic. They are already in such a weak position in comparison to the management that they don't need competition within their own ranks.