The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 1           January 9, 2006  
Support N.Y. transit workers
Their fight is cause of all working people
lead article/editorial
The entire labor movement and all working people need to stand with the 34,000 New York transit workers fighting for a decent union contract. Their strike is the cause of all labor. The massive fines a state judge has imposed on the Transport Workers Union, and additional ones the city is seeking against individual workers, must be dropped. Trade unions should campaign for the repeal of the antilabor Taylor law, which bans strikes by public employees in New York State. This fight is not just about the strikers. The city is trying to set one more precedent to be used against other workers. City Hall recently got approval for a sanitation workers contract that includes one-person crews, and a pact with teachers weakening seniority.

The MTA claims it must now make new hires pay 6 percent of their wages for pensions—saving $20 million in three years—because of a looming budget deficit. But the city’s capitalists are willing to lose hundreds of millions a day to break the strike. As fares keep going up and the transit system deteriorates, New York city and state fork over billions in yearly interest payments to wealthy bondholders. That’s where a huge portion of funds go. But it’s the workers who are told to “sacrifice.”

The ruling capitalist families use the same arguments to rationalize rolling back Social Security and Medicare for all working people: future retirees will supposedly bankrupt the Social Security system. The fact is, all wealth—including funds for social programs and public companies like the MTA—comes from workers and farmers applying their labor to nature. What’s involved is that the capitalists are trying to boost their declining profit rates by taking an even bigger portion of that wealth from the working class by making us work faster and longer hours, cutting wages and benefits, and worsening job conditions. This is the case across the country—from auto to airlines to mining firms.

Is it true, as Mayor Bloomberg and others who speak for big business claim, that the transit strikers are selfishly hurting lower-paid workers? No. If the MTA succeeds in undermining pensions for transit workers, that will encourage bosses everywhere to drive harder against wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Is it true strikers are criminals for violating the Taylor law? No. Was Rosa Parks a criminal for violating the racist segregation law in Alabama? The Taylor law is among many antilabor measures the ruling class will increasingly use to restrict rights workers need to defend ourselves from the employers’ assaults. Working people also face a danger from the federal domestic spying operations and the Patriot Act that’s being renewed. Under the guise of fighting “terrorism” these measures will be used to clamp down on labor militants. The New York Daily News is already accusing the transit strikers of exposing “the subway system to terrorism.”

This antilabor gang-up by the Democrats and Republicans who run New York also points to the need to build a labor party, based on the unions, that fights in the interests of workers and farmers year round.

Despite the stab in their back by the TWU international president, who ordered strikers to return to their jobs, there is widespread sympathy with the transit workers among working people in New York—for good reason. This is the time to mobilize the power of the labor movement to back the strikers and help them win.
Related articles:
Strikers resist two-tier pensions, want dignity on job  
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