NEW YORK – Transit workers on Dec. 20 went on strike, forcing millions of city residents to find another way to commute to work.
"The morning rush hour was unlike anything this City has experienced in 25 years," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "For a lot of New Yorkers, it was not an easy commute and getting home tonight won’t be easy either. The good news is New Yorkers are following the strike contingency plan we developed and put into effect early this morning."
The strike is the first since an 11-day strike in 1980.
The transit strike is illegal under state law and transit workers could lose two days of pay for every day they are on strike. A judge fined the union $1 million for each day workers are on strike.
"This strike is costing us. It is costing people their jobs. It will cost billions in lost economic activity," Bloomberg said. "It is robbing people of their opportunities to earn a living and provide for their families. It will hurt hard working New Yorkers struggling to get into the middle class and get benefits and health insurance as generous as TWU members. It is costing students their opportunity to learn. It will make it harder for our Police Officers, Firefighters and EMS to get where they need to go. Already, a Police Officer on a strike-related assignment was seriously injured when he was a hit by a car. He is at Booth Memorial Hospital."
City officials previously outlined a plan to address a transit disruption by reducing demand on major roads and optimizing functioning public transportation. Plans call for special HOV requirements along major roads, bridges and tunnels into Manhattan, commercial vehicle restrictions, lane reversals, carpool and Park & Ride facilities, and increased service on operating public transportation.
The transit agency and its 33,000 workers are fighting over wages and pension contributions.
"No union gets everything they want when they negotiate a new contract," Bloomberg said. "I have butted heads with the PBA, the UFT, the UFA, and the Sanitation and Corrections unions – strong unions that form the backbone of our municipal workforce, keeping our streets safe and clean, putting out fires and educating our children. But for all the acrimony, they never walked out on the job, walked out on New York, and hurt the people they work for."