Free Personal Columns to Publish: ONE STRIKE AND THEY WERE OUT 

   By Joe Klock, Sr.
   Okay, so the transit workers in New York had a beef with the Metropolitan Transit Authority over wages, retirement age, pension plans and an additional paid holiday so union members could honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Nu?)
Since this humble scribe hasn’t used public transportation in the Big Apple since a class trip thereto in 1942, he didn’t really have a dog in that fight, but the tactics involved in it gave him emotional hives.
Squabbles between labor and management presumably date back to a period shortly after Adam and Eve blew a sweetheart deal with the Almighty. That ill-advised Applefest ushered in the subsequent millennia in which personkind, even unto these troubled days, was bound to either work, starve, steal or get born to the purple in order to survive.
Shortly after employment came to be, disputes arose between the “hire-archy” and hire-ees, dramatized in that biblical story about laborers in the vineyard. (Aside: I still think the first guys hired that day got the dirty end of the stick.)
Subsequent frictions between workers and those they served gave birth to the union movement, which my late father regarded as a major boil on the butt of management.
We won’t go thataway in this opusette, nor will we detail all the bones of contention gnawed on by the M.T.A and Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union.
Neither do I trivialize the viewpoints on either side of the disagreement and their right to niggle, haggle, bicker and battle to their hearts’ content.
I observe the same kind of detachment with respect to the militant beer guzzlers who can’t agree on whether Miller Lite has great taste or is less filling. (I prefer Killian’s Red.)
That said, though, when seven million N’yawk commuters were “streeted” by a transit strike involving problems not of their making, and when that happenstance occurred during the last shopping days before Christmas (during which period the wind chill factor would have changed Miller Lite to a brewsicle), my hackles rose, my blood boiled and my outrage spilled into print.
Before my risings, boilings and spillings subside, somebody’s gotta ‘splain me what any of those unhappy pedestrians did to cause the conflict, or could possibly have done to resolve it.
Their plight is somewhat akin to that of the whipping boys of old who got the crap beaten out of them for something bad done by a young Royal or of the unfortunate scapegoat whom Aaron blamed for the sins of humanity.
There was plenty of blame to be shared and shortsightedness displayed by both sides. in what appeared to be, in large part, a spitting contest between the warring camps.
To cite just one issue, the M.T.A. was seeking a reduction in pension costs which, it was estimated, would have saved the city a lot less over the next three years than what the NYPD shelled out to their “blues” in overtime during the three days of the strike.
Not only was the transit workers’ walkout a cruel, unusual and thoughtless punishment of innocent masses and a multi-million-dollar blow to Gotham’s business community, but it was also the flagrant flaunting of a law which specifically prohibits New York’s transit workers from striking.
The local union was slapped with a million-dollar-per-day fine for its misbehavior, making an  impressive gash in its reported $3.6 million cash reserve.
Worsening that grim picture was the fact that the parent Transport Workers of America union urged them to go back to work and promised them zero financial support in the interim.
These were undoubtedly among the reasons why the local’s governing body authorized the walkout in a sharply divided vote.
As is so often the case in strike situations – and as happened in 1966 and 1980 – whatever financial gains might be won by the rank and file will cover their lost wages (two days’ worth for each day of the walkout) and other penalties only after a long catch-up period
The Metropolitan Transit Authority will, of course, finance the costs of the strike by simply raising fares, and Union officials’ paychecks presumably were uninterrupted, making their  battle wounds only minimally uncomfortable.
Strive as one might to justify the principles being defended by those warring parties, it is impossible to find equity in a situation that so viciously punished a hapless populace which was  guilty of no discernable misdeeds.
And the beef goes on!

Joe Klock, Sr. ( is a Key Largo, Florida freelance writer. For more of his “Klockwork,” visit


December 25, 2005
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