Saturday, December 24, 2005

No respect, no support either.

Just in case you are wondering, no this is not a post about the late Rodney Dangerfield, although looking at some of those sad sacks who were a part of the Transit Strike in NYC, it easily could be. However, this one is about something that very few had the heart to mention or the stones to say on air.

While flipping through the dials the other evening, I stumbled on the NewsHour on PBS which had a couple talking heads giving a post mortem on the sudden end to the transit debacle. One of these eggheads actually said something that made a lot of sense, which was that no other unions came out in support of the TWU. NONE. Want proof? City employees crossed the lines even though some of them are a part of AFSCME which has a loose affiliation with the TWU. Members of AFTRA and NABET crossed those lines to get reports on the strike done. The teachers union (they are a subject for another post on their own) crossed the lines. Others did as well.

Yours truly has a few theories as to why this happened. One of them being that this was an illegal strike [see a previous post about the New York State Taylor Law which makes strikes by public employees illegal]. Even if there was some sympathy for the folks who operate the A-Train, not a one wants to be involved in something that says they would support the concept or breaking the law to get a new contract. As if that is not enough in this case, consider that with their base pay they make more than many others who work for the city, even some of the police and you can see where there would also be a little bit of a credibility problem.

The next two theories may seem a little out there, but they have some basis in fact. Both involve the 'I' word and the 'R' word. Let's tackle the 'I' word first. The current wave of thought is for any union to get some level of support from others in the labor movement, they have to be 'INCLUSSIVE' . That's right folks; to gain support, the union in question as part of their platform has to say somewhaere that they want fair treatment for alphabet-soupers as well as have placards that read 'End Sexism Now', 'End Racism Now', 'End Anti-Gay Behavior Now'. If this seems strange, this is something that I have been able to pick up on by doing a little research and eavesdropping. Sadly labor unions have, instead of protecting the rights and well being of workers are now more involved in touchy-feely causes that are nothing more or less than emotional blackmail. Put another way, if the union on strike wants support from other unions, they have to bring in others with no promise or certainty of turnabout being fair play. [From what I understand this is being done in California, which would only figure. As California goes, so goes the other coast and then the rest of the country after].

Now let's talk about the 'R' word. Yep, race. Before you ask, no I am not a conspiracy theorist, but if this strike was led by someone who did not look and act like a third world leader short on interpersonal skills and with even fewer brains, the support would have been universal. If one were to look at other labor actions and their leaders in recent years, they would see that the spokespersons or the elected leaders are carefully schooled and in some cases are media friendly. In other words, these would be folks who would be more acceptable to Omaha or Council Bluffs. This is, regretably a fact of life in this day and age and goes to who has more credibility.

Are there lessons to be learned from what happened to this past weeks' events? Heck yes.Are we seeing the labor movement for what is is and what is mutating into? Damn right we are and it is becoming a mockery of what those who fought for fair working conditions struggled for. Will history repeat itself when the next major strike happens? It will only because some in these movements have short memories as well as act like sheep who need to be led. PLus they will swallow anything that comes their way as long as it means they will have a 'guaranteed' job.

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