How do you get to work? If you use Metro North, you might be out of luck for a while because a potential strike is on the way. Should it happen, up to 300,000 daily commuters will have to find an alternate way to work.
CT Post reports that Connecticut is already bracing for the potential consequences. Jim Gildea, chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Railroad Council, detailed exactly what a strike would mean for the state:
“A strike would cause gridlock unlike anything we have seen. I do not believe that Metro-North would be able to offer anywhere near the level of service they do now.”
Metro North’s biggest labor union claims that the company repeatedly violated contracts, which caused devastating consequences. Such as delayed processing of disability pensions, which caused health insurance to lapse for some families. Some workers bemoaned their health insurance, calling it inadequate and affordable.
The labor union also cited contractual and safety issues as reasons enough to strike.
Other reasons mention hiring outside of Metro North for job fillings and firing employees without due process.
As of now, all 12 Metro North unions still operate under expired contracts. Which means, they feel a strike is necessary because their demands keep falling on deaf ears.
Overall, the union represents 2,400 employees. Most of which happen to be the MTA’s most crucial positions, such as conductors and engineers. Which means: if they go, nothing goes. And it’ll make getting to work a living hell for nearly 300,000 people.
James Fahey, director of the executive board of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, put the vote before union members after winning the support of the five general chairmen of the union. They unanimously ratified the measure of putting the vote before members.
As of now, authorizing a strike is still before union members. Fahey says he apologizes in advance should members approve it. He hopes the MTA will hear their demands and proceed with contract negotiations without issue.
Still, Aaron Donovan, a Metro-North spokesman, says no one should panic. Yet:
“We are continuing to have very productive talks with ACRE and expect to resolve any outstanding issues. However, to threaten hundreds of thousands of Metro-North customers with an unlawful strike is completely irresponsible.”
Apparently, the union’s grievances don’t properly meet the criteria for a “major issue” under the Federal Railway Act. In fact, Donovan calls their demands “minor issues.” So, the law would have to step in should a strike occur.
Either way, this game of cat and mouse isn’t sitting well with the 300,000 daily commuters. In fact, even state lawmakers hope that the issue resolves itself soon.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Wilton Republican, says a strike would cause a near-revolt.
“It will be received terribly. As it is, commuters have a lot of issues and this has to be nipped in the bud. It could just be saber rattling, but it’s a dangerous process. It’s a risky move and it’s never good to have heated words over negotiated settlements. My guess is the union would run the risk of losing pensions and membership and I think the rank and file would not be interested in doing something illegal.”
So, you could only imagine how much worse this strike would be than the one from 1983. Only 90,000 people struggled to get to work back then. But now, with higher taxi prices and dilapidated roads, we might have to rename our highways “Fury Road.”
What do you think will happen with the strike? Will we actually have one or is it all a bunch of “sabre rattling?”
More importantly, should working conditions change for these unions if they really are as bad as they seem?