Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, January 02, 2006

MTA: still evil after all these weeks

Remember when I said it was over? It ain't over.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority laid out a detailed defense yesterday of the settlement it signed last week, arguing that an important concession made by the transit workers' union - having all workers contribute to their health insurance premiums - is worth more than pension demands the authority abandoned.

In an unusual interview with several reporters at noon on New Year's Day, the authority also announced that it would urge the state to revoke the union's ability to collect dues automatically, through payroll deduction. The loss of the "dues check-off" - which comes on top of the $3 million in fines the union faces for contempt of court and the fines faced by most workers for engaging in the illegal three-day strike last month - could cripple the union.

The MTA is reverting to form, bringing its nastiest business behind closed doors. If this were a question of new law I'd say that last week the union showed itself to be much scarier than the MTA, meaning the City's Assembly representatives would be afraid not to fight the proposal. But this "dues check-off" business goes to the New York State Public Employment Relations Board — a body appointed by the governor. And the governor has been ranting up and down to everyone and his aunt that the contract deal sucks and he won't let the MTA ratify it. Meanwhile, the union is delaying its vote on the new contract until after the MTA does ratify it, which Pataki's spokesman says won't happen until after the union votes.

In the long term, the MTA still wants the TWU gone. And all of us should be rooting for the TWU, since as transit riders and residents of New York City the TWU is the closest thing we currently have to independent oversight of the MTA and its crooked books and sweetheart land deals. No matter how subtextually racist we may have allowed ourselves to be in our moment of inconvenience and resentment.

Shit. One more year to Spitzer. Pataki's going to give me an ulcer.

Update: [SG in comments]

I also like this observation that Kalikow is Pataki's bitch who doesn't sneeze without Pataki's OK, so whatever Pataki is spouting about not knowing about a side deal is completely for the sake of the national party.

I would add that it's quite possible we're seeing a two-step here not just for the sake of the national party but the local press: the MTA makes a deal Pataki had to know about, Pataki screams and yells to keep the MTA from ratifying it time, eliminates the dues check-off, and then the whole thing falls apart. In other words, the promise of a deal to get the trains running again, then no deal after all and the TWU in an even tougher position than before. We won't know how much of Pataki's act is empty posture until the MTA board votes the contract up or down.

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  • At 9:39 AM, Blogger iconoclast said…

    Depressing, but perhaps these actions by MTA and Pataki will increase sympoathy for TWU IF, a big IF, they are better able to get their views before the public. You might be interested in an analysis of the strike in the context of the U.S. labor movement's problems in

  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ah, cool Different Drummer link.

    Well, on the upside, Spitzer could pretty easily reimplement "dues check-off." Which really shows that Nader et al who argue that there's no difference between the Republicans and Democrats are underestimating some very real differences.

    I also like this observation that Kalikow is Pataki's bitch who doesn't sneeze without Pataki's OK, so whatever Pataki is spouting about not knowing about a side deal is completely for the sake of the national party. Because Pataki is so going to be the nominee of a party controlled by the likes of Delay and Inhofe. Right.

  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Yeah, Pataki wasn't so bad (ok, he was bad, but he wasn't anywhere near this bad) until he got the stupid delusion in his head that he had any chance whatsoever of being President. His name doesn't even feature in anyone's handicapping lists anymore.

    I found the Different Drummer analysis interesting and accurate, if a tad bloodless.

  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Sorry to dis on your fellow alum, but it strikes me as yet another Yalie delusion of grandeur. Kind of like how immediately after 9/11 the president of Yale issued a warning that Yale's campus was a probable next target for Al Qaeda. Riiiiiight.

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    The only plus side to Pataki's fantasies is that I have to think he's behind the kamikaze-campaign-to-damage-Hillary idea--usually the New York GOP doesn't give a shit about national affairs. I'm all for taking Clinton down. We really don't need her as our 2008 nominee.

    Oh, and if Yale wasn't so important, would the New York Times cover it in such minute detail? That's what I thought.

  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah you'd think that if anything Joe Bruno would be happy to get her out of his hair.

    I think my favorite Times expose of all time was a Metro Section FRONT PAGE, above the fold article, with a giant photo, about redecorating one of Yale's dining halls. All the news that's fit to print!


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