Times Ignores Cost of Union Strike for Commuters, City

     Regardless of whether a strike is called or a settlement is reached, warned Chan and Greenhouse, the labor struggle over the transit contract has highlighted one fact: Many workers feel they lack dignity and respect on the job.

     But on CNN, business reporters were wondering where the dignity of and respect for the law factored into plans for the labor strike. Cafferty opened the December 17 show explaining that the citys Transit Workers Union had refused to go to mediation with the city of New York, and, as a result, theres a whole debate raging about whether 33,000 people should be able to hold a city of 8.5 million people hostage over contracts that by law they are not allowed to strike against.

     Cafferty was referring to the Taylor Law, which took effect in New York in 1967 and forbids strikes by most public employees in the Empire State.

     Caffertys co-host Susan Lisovicz added that transit workers start at $52,000, close to $53,000-a-year while rookie police officers and probationary firefighters earn about $25,000. The Timess Greenhouse and Chan similarly reported in a separate December 19 Times article that transit workers have an average base salary of $47,000 and average earnings of $55,000, including overtime.

     But while the Times portrayed well-compensated transit workers as ill-treated civil servants, no mention of the Taylor Law was made, nor were the viewpoints of city administrators or millions of potentially stranded New York commuters included for balance.

     Chan and Greenhouse failed to report what Greenhouse wrote in a separate Times article: much of the contract dispute between transit union workers and the city of New York centers on benefits to future employees in a two-tier contract structure which saves labor costs over the long-run without cutting benefits for current workers.

     The two-tier contract structure was designed by city administrators to lessen the heavy burden rising labor costs place on the citys taxpayers.

     Media imbalance on labor disputes is hardly a new phenomenon. The Business & Media Institute has previously documented how the media have skewed stories in favor of unions.