I hope that every New York labor person comes out today for the big demonstration in support of the transit workers. The demo is taking place at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street near Lexington Avenue. That's the location of the around-the-clock negotiations (the contract expires at 12:01 a.m. Friday).
The front section of The New York Times metro section has three stories about the possible strike. The lead story focuses on the mayor's announcement that, if there is a strike, only cars with at least four people would be permitted to enter Manhattan south of 96th Street. The most interesting story is that of a subway conductor named William Bailon and his struggles to pay bills on the salary of a transit worker: "It's so expensive to live in New York," he said. "Everything is going up: the rent, the gas, the milk."
I have no particularly unique insight into whether a strike will happen. My instinct says there will be a deal because the transit authority is sitting on a $1 billion surplus. The authority has used part of its surplus to give riders a small discount during the holiday season--I had a fantasy that the public would rise up and say "we'll pass on the few extra dollars because, long-term, it's better for moral and better for our society as a whole to reject the Wal-Martization of wages so let's give the transit workers a good deal."
Looming over the effort to make a decent living is the Taylor Law, which is a state law that prevents public employees from striking. It's hard to fathom how we live in a supposedly democratic society where people do not have basic right to strike--not to imagine the real right to form a union.