Whose Side Is The Times On?

New York State's Taylor Law prohibits strikes by public employees and imposes extremely severe penalties on those who break it — for very sound reasons.

The Transit Workers Union strike illegally called at 3 o'clock this morning provides a case in point. The lives of 8 million or more New Yorkers are being seriously disrupted; businesses are expected to suffer losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars; public safety is jeopardized as health care—givers and the sick may not be able to get to their jobs or their doctors; and many working class folks, who earn far less than the highly—paid transit workers, will suffer financial losses — perhaps even their very jobs — becasue they are unable to get to work.

In addition to the Mayor and the Governor, two of the city's major dailies, the New York Post and the New York Daily News, have published scathing editorials condemning the reckless action of the union and its president, Roger Toussaint.

So, where does New York's other mass circulation newspaper stand? Hard to tell. There's nary an editorial word in the print issue, nor, as of 9:00 AM, on its Web site. But there is right there on the front page of this morning's Metro Section a prominent article spread across the top of four columns:

Uniquely Aggrieved, and Empowered, Union Digs in Again
By SEWELL CHAN
Published: December 20, 2005

Transit workers are more militant because they are conscious of that power, but the very conditions of their job also grind them down and generate resentment, said Marian Swerdlow, a sociologist and the author of "Underground Woman," a memoir of her four years as a subway conductor.

"The working conditions are more physically onerous, the treatment by managers more disrespectful, and the abuse from the public more hurtful, than any other group of public workers in the city experiences," Dr. Swerdlow said. [....]

"Whoever it is that works as a transit worker — be it Irish— Italian— or African—Americans — they do a hard and dirty job, which is often quite dangerous and becomes visible to the public only when something goes wrong," said Robert W. Snyder, author of "Transit Talk," an oral history of subway and bus workers.

Chan's article, of course, neglects to mention the average $50,000. to $60,000. transit worker's pay, with overtime, nor that starting salaries are higher than those of police, firefighters, or sanitation workers. We do not learn, either, from Chan that TWU members receive fully paid health care and are eligible to retire on a generous pension at age 55.

But, then, we do infer quite clearly on exactly what side of this issue the Times' management and editorial board stands — and it isn't that of the people of New York.

Richard N. Weltz   12 20 05

UPDATE: The New York Sun has an editorial condemning the strike today:

The New York transit strike begun today is a blatantly illegal act of economic sabotage by a union so selfish that it is willing to destroy one of the most important business weeks in the city in a last—ditch attempt to preserve privileges that most private sector employees can only dream of — like the ability to retire at age 55 with a full pension, or the ability to not to contribute at all to health insurance costs.

The New York Times editorial page remains silent so far

New York State's Taylor Law prohibits strikes by public employees and imposes extremely severe penalties on those who break it — for very sound reasons.

The Transit Workers Union strike illegally called at 3 o'clock this morning provides a case in point. The lives of 8 million or more New Yorkers are being seriously disrupted; businesses are expected to suffer losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars; public safety is jeopardized as health care—givers and the sick may not be able to get to their jobs or their doctors; and many working class folks, who earn far less than the highly—paid transit workers, will suffer financial losses — perhaps even their very jobs — becasue they are unable to get to work.

In addition to the Mayor and the Governor, two of the city's major dailies, the New York Post and the New York Daily News, have published scathing editorials condemning the reckless action of the union and its president, Roger Toussaint.

So, where does New York's other mass circulation newspaper stand? Hard to tell. There's nary an editorial word in the print issue, nor, as of 9:00 AM, on its Web site. But there is right there on the front page of this morning's Metro Section a prominent article spread across the top of four columns:

Uniquely Aggrieved, and Empowered, Union Digs in Again
By SEWELL CHAN
Published: December 20, 2005

Transit workers are more militant because they are conscious of that power, but the very conditions of their job also grind them down and generate resentment, said Marian Swerdlow, a sociologist and the author of "Underground Woman," a memoir of her four years as a subway conductor.

"The working conditions are more physically onerous, the treatment by managers more disrespectful, and the abuse from the public more hurtful, than any other group of public workers in the city experiences," Dr. Swerdlow said. [....]

"Whoever it is that works as a transit worker — be it Irish— Italian— or African—Americans — they do a hard and dirty job, which is often quite dangerous and becomes visible to the public only when something goes wrong," said Robert W. Snyder, author of "Transit Talk," an oral history of subway and bus workers.

Chan's article, of course, neglects to mention the average $50,000. to $60,000. transit worker's pay, with overtime, nor that starting salaries are higher than those of police, firefighters, or sanitation workers. We do not learn, either, from Chan that TWU members receive fully paid health care and are eligible to retire on a generous pension at age 55.

But, then, we do infer quite clearly on exactly what side of this issue the Times' management and editorial board stands — and it isn't that of the people of New York.

Richard N. Weltz   12 20 05

UPDATE: The New York Sun has an editorial condemning the strike today:

The New York transit strike begun today is a blatantly illegal act of economic sabotage by a union so selfish that it is willing to destroy one of the most important business weeks in the city in a last—ditch attempt to preserve privileges that most private sector employees can only dream of — like the ability to retire at age 55 with a full pension, or the ability to not to contribute at all to health insurance costs.

The New York Times editorial page remains silent so far