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The New York Times is reporting that TWU and MTA have reached an agreement to end the strike and possibly settle a tentative contract agreement:
After meeting with both sides through the night, state mediators have devised a preliminary framework for a settlement of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority contract dispute that would allow strikers to return to work later today, according to four people close to the negotiations.

[snip]

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 walk 3 miles each way to work if doing so would get Bush out of the White House and into prison?

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?

Originally posted to Pesto on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:21 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Give In" to pension demands (4.00)
    EXCUSE ME! The MTA were breaking the law by messing around with pensions that are regulated by the State of New York. The dea of MTA giving ANYTHING is bullshit!

    "We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately." - Ben Franklin

    by RandyMI on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:21:35 AM PST

  •  From a distance (4.00)
    I can't help but worry that, if the union gives an inch on two-tiered contract provisions regarding pension contributions, it will be seen as caving in to the GOPer bullies who run New York government these days. I hope Toussaint's tenaciousness proves to be equal to his reputation.
  •  Shameless diary whoring... (none)
    but since you brought up the Flint Sit Down strikes, thought I might post a link to my diary about the Flint Sit Down Strikes here.

    The world is made for those who are not cursed with self-awareness. -- Annie Savoy, from "Bull Durham" Yeah, and George W. Bush is living proof.

    by wmtriallawyer on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:25:32 AM PST

    •  Whoring is no problem! (4.00)
      If you actually read through my now-irrelevant (evidently) call to the barricades, whore away!

      And your diary is very good -- allow me to co-whore (or would that be pimp?) to anyone else reading this.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:35:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  carpooling (none)
    I already do get up 2 hours earlier than I normally would (except it is now my new normal) to carpool. Luckily I get to carpool with my husband (and it would be sort of stupid not to). Some days with doctors appointments or what not we would drive separately. Now I am more likely to bring a bike in to handle those errands separately.
  •  I just watched the mediator on TV (none)
    It didn't sound like they've reached agreement on contract.  He said the negotiations would continue, under a news blackout. He indicated that progress had been made, but that talks would be more productive if they were not disclosed publicly.  Toussaint has agreed to recommend a return to work to the union board.  

    I have very mixed feelings about this strike.  I am one of the people who's been inconvenienced, but my inconvenience is just that -- an annoyance. I work for a nice big firm that arranged van service for its employees from various parts of the city to the Financial District.  Others, particularly small business owners, have lost critical revenue during a key shopping week as a result of a strike that is illegal under current law.  Now, as a matter of public policy, perhaps public employees shouldn't be barred from striking, but right now the Taylor Law applies.  So while I am sympathetic to the union -- and I do think the MTA pulled a bait and switch at the last minute, appearing to "give" on the retirement age only to "take it back" with a demand for trebling pension payments by the workers themselves -- the union knew, when it decided to strike, that it would be subject to fines and penalties and possibly worse. Its surplus fund has been depleted. Fairly or not, many people are angry at the union, because Toussaint hasn't done a good job of articulating the union's genuine grievances. We won't know until a contract is announced whether all that has been worth it -- whether the union got a fair deal or not.    

    Sometimes you cover your ass with the lame excuses you have, instead of the lame excuses you wish you had. (-3.00, -5.49)

    by litigatormom on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:38:04 AM PST

    •  articulation (none)
      I remember when the elections were happening and FF was complaining he was unable to get his message out because Bloomberg had tons of $$'s... well, so do the corporate owned media. I have no idea how Toussaint can compete with that when they can't even last three days on 3 million, you know?

      /there are no rules except discovery /the only tradition is invention. -rachel pollack

      by joseph rainmound on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:41:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's definitely a factor (none)
        But part of the problem is Toussaint himself.  He's said some stupid things. Then again, so has Bloomberg.  In the end, I think most people just think about how it affects themselves.

        Sometimes you cover your ass with the lame excuses you have, instead of the lame excuses you wish you had. (-3.00, -5.49)

        by litigatormom on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:46:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great essay, Pesto (none)
    I'll be posing your questions to people myself...
    •  Thanks, maren (none)
      I appreciate your taking the time to read it.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 05:17:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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