Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NY Transit workers can't see how tech's going to make them unemployed

Unions just don't want to except the fact that trains, and a little further down the road buses, will run exclusively by computers. Several of our larger airports now run unmanned trains that take passengers from terminal to terminal....who needs a $60,000 yr. "driver" who just sits at the helm and tries to not fall asleep? The days of union power are receeding quickly.....but not fast enough for me!

The unions are making a big mistake in NY:
Hostage For the Holidays
Every three years, New Yorkers are held hostage during the holidays by the transit workers of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It is a time-honored negotiation technique but a dangerous game that brings our city to the brink of functional shutdown. And the simple fact is that New Yorkers are getting fed up with it.

The benefits of 38,000 transit workers do not outweigh the rights of 8 million New Yorkers. And yet the old school left-wing Transport Workers Union sees only its own interests in these negotiations. Judges have continuously determined that this strike is illegal because it is a strike against public safety. As Calvin Coolidge famously said dealing with a Boston police strike (and which Giuliani administration Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota posted on a sign outside his office during transit negotiations six years ago), “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”

The average annual salary for a transit worker is well over $50,000. Bus maintenance workers receive an average salary of $68,000 a year; train operators make $62,000 a year; station agents over $50,000 a year and conductors over $53,000 a year. Add to this generous public subsidy the fact that transit workers take an average of 13 days sick leave a year and you have a picture of a classic overfed, me-first, feather-bedding local union of the past.

But before transit workers get too arrogant even as they look at their next prospective strike three years down the line, they should realize that technology already exists that would make them irrelevant. Already, trains in Paris, Cairo, and Calcutta operate with computerized or automated systems. In Paris, the Meteor Project was launched in 1998, with an automatic piloting system that controls the train line’s traffic, regulates speed, manages alarm devices, and allows for traffic of automatic and traditional conductor trains on the same line.There have been no serious accidents reported since this system deployed in the late 1990s, and more than a billion people have been transported. Computers make the trains run on time and they don’t threaten to walk off the job. All of us are replaceable, but some are more quickly replaceable than others.

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