I've never had much use for unions, even when I belonged to one. Now, I'm just weary of their methods of holding the public hostage to get what they want, and the Transit Workers Union's strike in New York is the best example in recent memory.
In more ways than one, the TWU leaders have damaged the city they claim to love, and they don't really seem to care so long as they get their way.
What the terrorists did on 9-11 was simple. They took people's lives, crushed the city's economy (and by extension the nation's) and demonstrated that they couldn't care less about who was impacted, so long as their goals were accomplished.
What the transit workers did the week of Dec. 25 is in many ways the same thing. No, they did not fly loaded airplanes into buildings and kill people. But they attempted to take people's livelihood, hoping to crush the city's economy (and by extension the nation's) and demonstrating abject carelessness to the impact it has on those less fortunate – particularly the poor.
Callers from my flagship station WMCA New York, have pleaded with me all week to stop taking the side of the city and stand up for the little man. But when you look at the hard numbers of what the union is asking for, you have to admit, I already am.
If the devil is in the details, then the devil in this situation are those union bosses that made union members strike and not put the law, the welfare of New Yorkers or even their own families above their desire to crush the city.
Here's how it breaks down. The average New Yorker makes $49,000 per year. They also have to pay a hefty part of their own health insurance costs and most likely will have to work till the ages of 62-65 years of age. Low-income residents earn somewhere on average around $24,000-$35,000 a year. Nearly 7 million New Yorkers need public transportation to get to the job that pays them that average salary of $49,000.
What the transit workers were getting prior to the strike went something like this: Two-thirds of the transit worker population earn between $51-63,000 per year. They get retirement at age 55. And they enjoy the most lavish health-care coverage you can imagine – no co-pay, no deductibles, just 100 percent coverage. The bottom third of the transit workers – the ones who sweep up the gum wrappers in the subway platforms – earn $40,000.
The city is offering a 3.5 percent raise each year for the next three years (total of 10.5 percent). It is also asking the union to push new members to make retirement age 59 and to accept roughly 1 percent of their own health-care costs. (How much did you pay in deductibles and co-pays last year? I did some research; in my house we paid nearly 11 percent)