Strike! Strike! Strike!

Well, today is the first day of the New York Transit workers’ strike. Leaving West Orange, NJ on the NJ Transit train this morning wasn’t so bad. I suspect a lot of people just stayed home today. The train actually had two less cars than they normally run, which did make the train a bit crowded. No delays getting into Penn Station in Manhattan.
The station at 8:00 am didn’t seem much more crowded than a normal Tuesday, although there were more people. As I came up the stairs into the lower level from the platform, the crowds did pick up. Approaching the 7th Ave. & 34th St. exit, which also happens to be the entrance for the 1,2,3 subway lines, I was a bit dumbfounded to see the crowds. It took me 10 minutes to walk the single city block to reach the exit stairs – wall-to-wall people. I’ve never seen anything like it! I must say, it was kind of fun. That is one thing about New Yorkers – in a situation like this people are generally very polite and simply do what has to be done, which is to wait and shuffle.
I figured the streets would be very crowded and there were more people than normal, but not nearly as packed as I expected. This may be because many people decided not to come into the city, maybe it was just a Mid-town thing, who knows. We shall see how things go as the strike continues.
If people attempt to drive into Manhattan below 96th street, they must have at least 4 people in the car. From my perspective, Mid-town at around 8:00 am, the traffic wasn’t all that bad. I don’t know what it was like in other parts of the city.
Au Bon Pain was very crowded, but their workers seemed to have gotten to work. The fruit venders were not out this morning, but the coffee and donute carts were on the street corners.
I tell ya, I think the transit workers have made a big mistake striking this close to Christmas. They will win no sympathy from the average New Yorker, particularly because they are demanding pay increases of 8% every year for the next three years. The City’s proposed contract would require all new hires to contribute 1% to their own health-care with all current employees continuing to receive absolutely free health-care, but the union will not abide by such a thing. I just don’t think people are going to be clamoring to the City to give the transit workers what they want.
Luckily, I’m leaving for D.C. and then Ohio tomorrow for Christmas week. It’s kind of fun to be in the midst of the first strike in 25 years. Honestly, I’m not that inconvenienced at this point (except for the fact that I cannot meet with a friend for lunch today, and his Christmas present will have to wait until after Christmas – Brooklyn is too far to walk!