[T]he strike's emotional tenor went up a notch, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued to call the union "selfish" and several black leaders decried his criticism Tuesday that union leaders were acting "thuggishly."Here you have a billionaire mayor, Bloomberg, a billionaire MTA head, Peter Kalikow, and a millionaire governor, George Pataki, wielding the massive club of the state's Taylor Law, calling a bunch of folks the city relies on to move its people "thugs"?
After updating reporters on the city's Day Two response to the strike, Bloomberg castigated the TWU and its rhetoric.
"What frauds they are, claiming to be a champion of working families when their illegal actions are costing New Yorkers their livelihoods," he said.
A few hours later, Toussaint invoked the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the August 2003 blackout in demanding respect for workers. He also compared the strike to the work of Rosa Parks. "We ask you to keep that in mind when you consider the type of offensive language and insulting speech being used to describe your neighbors," he said.
Some public officials and New Yorkers bridled at Bloomberg's use of the word "thuggish" to describe the union Tuesday.
Standing in front of a sign that read, "The Taylor Law is a slave code," and wearing a red arm band, Councilman Charles Barron likened the MTA to a plantation.
Georgina Howard, 45, a nurse from Cambria Heights, was incensed with some of the mayor's rhetoric. "He called Toussaint a thug," she said. "If the head of the union had been white, I doubt he would have used that word."
The mayor's spokesman, Ed Skyler, said, "It's despicable to inject race into this situation."
Tell you what, Mikey, Petey, Georgie: put down your club, and walk with me. Let me show you what people are going thru to persevere in this strike. Get out of your limousines and your town houses and your mansions, and take a walk with me to an apartment in, say, Long Island City...no police protection, Mr. Mayor. No cameras for your little photo op across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Be the populist you claim to be, Governor. Walk from City Hall to the Queensboro Bridge, and into Ravenswood projects, or the Queensbridge Houses. See the people, feet aching, legs throbbing.
I'd mention Petey, but I'm guessing the half mile up the incline of the Queensboro Bridge would cripple his calves, which only get exercised stretching for rationales.
We who walk support the TWU. Why?
Because we get it. We see the naked greed of the MTA. The fact that they whine about deficits and bankruptcy until mirabile dictu, they get a fare hike or union concessions or an increase in state or city funding. Then suddenly, they're so far in the black it's not funny.
This isn't private industry, gentlemen. You can't outsource the "D" train to India. You can't hire a busload of Central Americans to operate the trains, sweatshop fashion.
Deal with the folks who run the system. Deal with them fairly, deal with them honestly. Take the pensions off the table, guys. We have enough insecurities in our citizenry about private companies and their pensions without you guys jacking up the fear for folks who, for less pay than they'd make in the private sector, worrying if they made a mistake in serving the public.