Friday, December 23, 2005

How Did the "Public" Really Feel about the Strike?

It's hard to know where the public was at about the strikers, but I thought this morning that I would collect all the different poll information and see if it could provide any answers. If you look at this marist poll, you'll see that 39% of all NYers blamed the MTA for the strike, but that 58% of Black New Yorkers blamed the MTA. According to the same poll, African-Americans and Latinos supported the strike more than whites did. That fits my anecdotal experience. I was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday carrying a big sign reading "I support the TWU" and got more smiles from Blacks than I did from whites.
According to this article in the Daily News, news directors on local radio stations were surprised by the level of public support for the union:

In a WWRL poll, 71% of respondents blamed the MTA and only 14% blamed the transit workers, which Bishop said he found "a little surprising. I would have thought it would have been more even."
Almost every station that took calls found support for the transit workers. "I've used the transit system for years," said Margaret, a caller to WOR, "and I've talked with many workers about the horrible conditions. We need to support them."
"Perhaps surprisingly, there's a lot of support for the strike," said WOR news director Joe Bartlett. He suggested residents were coping with the strike "because this is a city that doesn't cave under pressure. New Yorkers thrive on adversity."

The local CBS affiliate did a poll and found 63% "angry" about the strike after the first day, but if you look at the comments from people who bothered to write letters, many are supportive of the strikers and aggravated with the media coverage. ABC did a poll asking "which side are you on," and found over 50% in support of the union. MYDD has an article on polls which finds high public support in spite of negative media coverage.
My guess is that despite all the lip-service to poor people being inconvienced by the strike that the major vocal opposition to the strike came from the middle and upper class, who talked in the abstract about people earning $20,000 who were hurt by it, but that poor people felt the sacrifice was worth it if it meant a better deal for the workers. Does anyone out there have any numbers on that, besides the Marist report showing the 60% support for the strike from African Americans?

Some took advantage of the strike and the temporary ban on single-driver vehicles to promote transportation alternatives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Public support for slavery? (via Nathan Newman

"...a quick point that's the most basic about the Taylor Law-- and any law that prohibits strikes.
They are slave laws, nothing less. They tell people they must show up to work on threat of government-backed punishment.
Early in the 20th century, the courts regularly banned most strikes, even in the private sector, and labor progressives denounced those court decisions as a violation of the 13th Amendment ban on involuntary servitude. The Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 ended much of that power to ban private strikes but left intact the ability of governments to enforce slave conditions on their employees-- covenient that. (Of course, the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act and followup laws led to the banning of a range of other private strikes as well).
Getting paid is not enough to make someone free. They have to have the right to refuse to work, which is why the right to strike is promoted as a basic international human right.
Lech Walesa recently led a group of Nobel Prize winners who condemned US labor practices. It's worth remembering that all those Solidarity strikers in the Lenin Shipyard were government workers. Yet the same folks who loved illegal union actions in Poland often denounce public employees in the US going on strike.
Commuters don't have to love the transit union strikers -- although they should since they are fighting not just for themselves but a whole range of workers -- but should be ashamed of themselves if they endorse the Taylor Slave Labor Law."