22 December 2005

Strike Out

I’m still sore about all of the “news” spewing from the mouths of the rich and powerful about the NY transit strike. For a multimillionaire financier to call low wage workers “selfish” or “thugish” is horrendous. Wonder how he made his bucks.

It is a well known fact that the disparity between rich and poor is ever increasing in America. The wealthiest people in America have more and more control, more and more money, and pay fewer and fewer taxes. Mayor Bloomberg has some nerve complaining about people who want a decent living for themselves and their family. People are biting themselves in the arse by not supporting strikers. Some people on the street are complaining that the transit workers should just “take what they can get” because they have it better than a lot of others. That’s not the point. No one should be relegated to take only the minimum of their worth. That’s precisely why everyone is struggling so much except the wealthiest 10 ro 20% of the country.

The argument that the transit strikers are being selfish and flippant in their decision to go forward with the strike just does not ring true. The Los Angeles Unified School District has given its teachers a 3% pay increase in the last three years. This does not even come close to reflecting inflation rates in Los Angeles, one of the cities in America with the highest cost of living. LAUSD has also been threatening to chip away at health and other benefits now enjoyed by its staff. Over and over again this particular school district violates teachers’ rights and the teachers’ union makes more and more concessions, yet the teachers refuse to strike. When the topic is brought up, teachers always worry about the practicality of not having their income, etc. This despite the fact that teachers pay hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars a year to pay for basic necessities for their classrooms not provided by the schools.

Strikes are NOT entered into lightly. Most people DO NOT want to strike, and fear for their financial safety and security when doing so. Strikers are brave people who are fighting for not only their own rights but the rights of fellow workers in all segments of society. Calling them selfish is a spurious comment.

If I didn’t make it clear before, this strike, as all strikes, is going to set precedents for all workers in America. Strikes are SUPPOSED to inconvenience people. They are SUPPOSED to make things difficult. That is how people realize the importance of the strikers and their work. The more that the less powerful concede to those in power (such as choosing Kerry as the lesser of two evil politicians rather than choosing a non-partisan selfless hero who’d actually help people), the fewer rights and privileges we are all going to have. Some democracy.

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