Early this morning 33,700 New York City subway and bus workers went on strike. Nice time for a strike: 20-degree weather and the height of the retail season.
"If it goes the full week," said Burt P. Flickinger III, a retail industry analyst, referring to the strike, "sales could be off 50 percent or more this week," which would translate to the loss of 5 to 10 percent of the entire year's profits. "In terms of lost operating income for New York-based retailers, it could be a quarter to half a billion dollars if they lose the entire week."
What's at the heart of the matter is hardly surprising:
The [MTA] dropped its demand to raise the retirement age for a full pension to 62 for new employees, up from 55 for current employees. But the authority proposed that all future transit workers pay 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions for their first 10 years of employment, up from the 2 percent that current workers pay.
Roger Toussaint, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, announcing the strike at a 3 a.m. news conference, tried to portray the action as part of a broader effort for social justice and workplace rights.
"New Yorkers, this is a fight over whether hard work will be rewarded with a decent retirement," he said. "This is a fight over the erosion, or the eventual elimination, of health-benefits coverage for working people in New York. This is a fight over dignity and respect on the job, a concept that is very alien to the M.T.A."
Retiring at age 55 with a full pension, not having to contribute to health insurance–many private sector workers would love to be disrespected that way.