The agreement, they said, would give every side some of what it asked for.
It would allow Gov. George E. Pataki to save face because the final negotiations would not take place until the strikers return to work, the people said, and it would apparently allow the union's president, Roger Toussaint, to save face because, they believe, the authority's pension demands - which are at the crux of the deadlock - have been significantly scaled back.
Ironically, I was writing the rest of this diary while Greenhouse and Chan were writing this story for the NYT. I spent a long time on it, so I'm including it here, even if it's a lot less relevant now. Thanks for your indulgence...
Would you get up 2 hours earlier than usual in the morning so you could carpool with your coworkers if doing so would end the War in Iraq?
Would you figure out how to survive on a smaller income if doing so led to a "moon program" commitment by the Federal Government to creating a renewable-energy economy?
Would you stand in line for 90 minutes at a ferry terminal if doing so would guarantee a woman's right to choose?
Would you ride a bike across a bridge in freezing weather if doing so would create genuine, democratic election reform?
Would you miss work for a week if doing so would guarantee universal, free health insurance in the USA?
Would you figure out how to juggle parenting with your partner or spouse because your daycare is closed if doing so would save Social Security from GOP attacks?
And if you would do any of these things, how long would you do them for? A day? A week? A month? If you did them for a month, and then found out that doing them for one month more would win everything I've listed, would you do them for another month?
I've only been involved in activism for a dozen years or so, but even I know that it never works this way. No one can know how long it will take to win all the social, economic, and political reforms that bring us to dKos. No one knows how many rallies and letters to the editor and meetings with Congresscritters and city council resolutions and elections it will take to end the War. No one knows how many scandals and investigations and protests it will take to bring accountability to Bush.
No one knew how many days of sit-downs in Flint it would take to organize the UAW at GM. No one knew how many picket lines, how many murdered longshoremen, how many days of a general strike it would take to win the union hiring hall on the West Coast.
And no one knows how many strikes it will take to keep the wealthy, the privileged, the arrogant from throwing all working people into poverty. No one knows how many fights, how much struggle and protest, it will take to prevent another 10,000 or 30,000 or 100,000 of our brothers and sisters from losing their health insurance. No one knows how many times we'll have to say "No!" before they get the message and stop trying to steal from us and our loved ones.
No one knows how many days the TWU members will have to stand in the cold, giving 2 day's pay to the State of New York for the privilege of being on strike against the MTA, to preserve their future brothers' and sisters' pensions, to keep management from imposing the give-backs forced on other public workers, and to stand up for their dignity. No one knows how many days their brothers and sisters in the NYC metropolitan region will need to stand and endure with them in their struggle.
But however long it takes, it has to last one day more than what the MTA, and Billionaire Bloomberg, and Governor Pataki, and Wall Street can take. The MTA has lied about their surplus. The MTA demanded give-backs from their own employees (and what sacrifices has the MTA offered to make?). The MTA tried, at the last minute, to break the union apart with a 2-tier pension proposal. The MTA and powerful elites in New York picked this fight - and if they see that this fight leads to working people turning on each other, if Bloomberg learns that his outrageous, snarling, union-busting attacks win over working people in New York, then New Yorkers can count not only on a further deterioration of the quality of life for anyone who can't afford a $1,000 cocktail at a swanky club in Manhattan - you can count on more confrontations, more strikes, and more disruption, because you'll have taught the wealthy and the bosses that the more they attack, the more we turn on each other, and the more we lose.
It's not just the TWU members who are being tested. We are all being tested in this strike. The test is, do we stand together or fall apart? If we fail, we fail not only our brothers and sisters on the picket line, we also fail ourselves and future generations, because we'll have shown the greedy and grasping that they only have to push a little and we'll all fall down.
The awful commutes, the ruined schedules, the lost incomes of New Yorkers are not side-effects of the struggle -- they are part of the struggle itself. If you're a New Yorker whose life has been turned upside down by the strike, you're not a victim -- you're a participant in the fight for a more democratic America. We're all a part of this struggle, as long as we stick with the fight and stick together.
Would you walk three miles a day each way to work if doing so meant winning power for working people?
Would you get up 2 hours earlier than usual in the morning to carpool with your coworkers if doing so meant turning the tide on the destruction of the middle class?
Would you figure out how to live on a smaller income if doing so meant that America became a more democratic country?