Friday, December 16, 2005

Pink Slip the MTA: Part 3

Midnight has come and gone with no contract and so far no strike, though the union has said they will start a strike at midnight tonight on the private bus lines. As the event continues to unravel my attention is turning from the union workers and instead to the media reporting it.

We have all seen the journalists covering this story to be soft when interviewing the union employees and its leadership but last night while watching New York 1 I was amazed when the reporter interviewing a number of MTA employees basically rolled over. What is the point of being an interviewer if you’re not going to ask tough questions?

Here were a couple of the responses from the employees when the reporter asked them why they were threatening to strike over a new contract.

Employee: Because it’s about time the MTA starts treating us better and fair.

New York 1 Reporter: Insert cricket sounds here

What a good reporter would have followed up with: “You say you want to be treated better, well currently MTA employees don’t pay any money toward health benefits. Considering the rest of the United States work force contributes to their own health care, why do you think it’s unfair for the MTA to ask new workers to pay a small percentage like the rest of the country?”

Or

“Currently the MTA employees get to retire at age 55 with full benefits while the rest of the United States retires at age 65 with little or no benefits. Why is it unfair for the city to request MTA workers to catch-up with the times and raise the retirement age with the life expectancy in the country now approaching 90?”

Here’s another one.

Employee: The MTA has a $1 billion surplus and we want our share of it.

New York 1 Reporter: Insert cricket sounds here

What a good reporter would have followed up with: “Ok if the MTA is willing to let the union share in what is most likely a once in a lifetime surplus, would the union be willing to share in any deficits that take place with pay and benefit cuts? Don’t you think its fair to share in the deficit if you’re going to share in the surplus?”

Now that would have been an interview.

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