Friday, December 16, 2005

Probable Scenario For Tonight's Transit Talks and Strike

Updated for reality check

After running thru my head all the past civil service work actions and the recent contretemps between Roger Toussaint and Peter Kalikow, I'm ready to map out what I believe will happen tonight and for the rest of the weekend:

1) There won't be a strike tomorrow morning. Bargaining will go down to the wire, at which point Toussaint will ask for the clock to be stopped. There has been movement, significant movement, the last two days from both sides.

OK, nailed this one full stop.

2) Talks will adjourn around 6AM (just in time for the morning news programs to cover it live), a quick press conference announcing some progress, and the representatives will get some sleep.

Ditto here.

3) Now, here's the tricky part: transit service will be fine for the morning commute. What I haven't worked out in my head yet is how angry the TWU is right now. It's possible commuters in NYC will get sandbagged by a late morning or even afternoon strike. I doubt it, but I don't think Kalikow's comments today, a clear message from Governor George Pataki (who's campaigning in New Hampshire when he should be at the bargaining table already) will soothe the TWU any. Dumb move, Pete.

However, I believe there will be no walk out tomorrow. The TWU wouldn't want to risk the wrath of the population of the city, who generally support them right now.

I'm going to give myself 3/4 credit here. There is no strike per se, unless you ride one of the (formerly) private bus lines, which have operated without a contract for three years. I should point out that the union leader three years ago was Roger Toussaint, and he held a sixteen day walkout with this local.

4) Any strike that does happen will start either Friday night, or on Saturday. This will hammer the city's economy: the busiest shopping day of the Christmas season, the last Saturday before Christmas AND a bunch of tourists hitting town. From a PR standpoint, this seems to be the perfect opportunity to strike.

Bang on, as the strike is being rolled out over the weekend.

5) How long any strike lasts is anybody's guess, but the Taylor Law sanctions are pretty clear, and while I wouldn't put it past the TWU to challenge them all the way to the Supreme Court, my thinking is that they'll settle no later than Tuesday, probably Sunday night.

Still up for grabs.

So I've got my walking shoes ready, despite the snow and sleet.