Oh, you're gonna get yours, you're gonna get yours!
Steven Malanga, author of the The New New Left: How American Politics Works Today had a column in yesterday's WSJ on the NYC transit strike that asked, "What Would Reagan Do?":
A radicalized union that twice before has tried and partially succeeded in shutting down America's largest city is once again holding New York hostage. Using such aggressive tactics, or the threat of them, over the last 40 years, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has won for its members a wage and benefits package that far outshines what most blue-collar workers in the private sector can earn, including retirement at age 55 with half salary and cost-of-living adjustments.
If New York state and city officials are ever to stop the TWU's recurring blackmail, which has burdened taxpayers and riders with enormous costs, they should use this illegal strike to impose the Reagan solution. Faced with a militant public-sector union that violated the law with a walk-out, President Reagan dismissed thousands of air traffic controllers in 1981 and rebuilt the nation's air traffic system with a new work force. New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) could do the same by terminating striking workers and hiring new ones, because its relatively unskilled unionized jobs are highly sought-after, with over 30 applicants for each position.
If you wonder why people are lining up to work for the MTA, consider this:
Today TWU bus drivers earn, on average, $63,000 annually, while subway motormen make $54,000 and subway cleaners $40,000. Workers get full health benefits, make no contributions to insurance premiums and can retire after 25 years of service or at age 55. The MTA has an unfunded pension liability of $1 billion. Given the strike, one might think the MTA is asking for significant givebacks of these perks. Hardly. It asked to push the retirement age back to 62 for new workers but dropped that demand and is now merely asking that they contribute 6% of their pre-tax salaries toward their pension for their first 10 years on the job, as well as pay 1% of salary for health insurance. By contrast, the TWU demanded that the MTA lower retirement age to 50 for its current workers and grant 8% wage increases over the next three years.
Things certainly have changed since the days of Ralph Cramden. What a racket.