Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike Over For Now

TWU members went back to work at 4 PM today:

On the third day of a citywide transit strike that has left millions without subway and bus service, union leaders ordered their members to begin returning to work this afternoon, ending a 60-hour walkout that caused much hardship but also brought out the creativity of New York commuters.

Transit officials said limited subway and bus service could resume within hours, though normal service could take up to 18 hours to restore.


The order to return to work came after executive board of the Transit Workers Union, Local 100, voted 38 to 5 with two abstentions to accept a preliminary framework of a settlement as a basis to end the walkout.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had already agreed to the framework, which was devised by state mediators after all-night negotiations with the union and the authority.

"We thank riders for their patience and forbearance," President Roger Touissant said outside union headquarters this afternoon. "We will be providing various details regarding the outcome of this strike in the next several days."

Now the spin from all involved begins. Bloomberg gave a press conference, Pataki made the rounds of the cable news channels, Toussaint spoke outside of TWU headquarters and a few dissenting TWU executive board members made some angry remarks to the press.

Bottom line is this: until the contract is settled and the details become known, we cannot decide which side won this labor war.

One thing I do know.

After three days of the transit strike, Bloomberg and Pataki were hearing it from big and small businesses in the city to get the strike ended.

While it's true that the union could not have afforded to stay out on strike much longer, it is also true that businesses in the city could not have afforded the lost revenue much longer either.

Which is why both sides were willing to try the mediation route and call a truce in the strike, at least for now.

We'll see if they can actually hammer out a contract agreement next week.

And then we'll take stock of the winners and losers in this strike.

Obviously I, for one, am hoping Toussaint got the pension concessions completely off of the table.

Question is, were Pataki and Bloomberg desperate enough to end the strike to take the pension concession demands off the table, did Toussaint blink on pensions, or was there some sort of compromise on the issue.

The press reports seem to hint at a compromise on the pension issue, but you have to wonder, given the intactable positions taken by both sides on the issue, exactly what kind of compromise could have been worked out by the mediator.

I guess we'll just have to wait until next week or so to see.

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