Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Good Old-Fashioned Rant

Tax-happy liberal that I am, I'm very pro-union (I oughta be, I'm in one), but on the eve of a possible NYC transit strike, I couldn't help noticing the men doing some sort of repair work on an elevator in my station this morning. There were three men in the bottom of the shaft. Two of them were hard at work with tools and things, and the third was watching them. He had a clipboard in his hand, and no toolbelt, so this seemed to be his primary task. A couple of feet above them on the subway platform stood three more men, all simply standing there. Two of them appeared to be holding the elevator doors open (a function that surely could have been achieved by a well-placed sawhorse), and the third just stood between them talking. These men all had hardhats and toolbelts, so maybe their technical skills would be needed later, but this is what I saw.

On the radio last night they said that one of the sticking points in the negotiations was that the MTA wants pay raises to be "tied to discipline," and the TWU called that "completely unacceptable." There was no specific explanation of this, so I can't speak about it in too educated a way, but if it means what I think it does, is it so much to ask that sizeable pay increases only be given to people who actually, y'know, show up and do a good job? Or be taken away from those who don't? I mean, I'm all for people who do thankless jobs for agencies that have surpluses getting raises, and I'm all for unions protecting their members, but seriously? Disciplining people is unacceptable? It's not like such things can be done arbitrarily or unfairly on a union contract. The employer has to have just cause, and if there's a dispute the union gets involved and there's a mediator and blah blah blah. So why the hell not?? I'm kind of appalled.


Switching topics, but as long as I'm talking like a Republican, It's called a fucking Christmas tree. I touched on this last year, and for a far more intelligent take on the subject I encourage you to read Salon.com article about how the whole "War on Christmas" thing has more to do with right wing propaganda and paranoia than the ACLU. But anyway, I say "happy holidays," generally, because it's easy and inclusive and I'm not Christian. In truth, I don't say it much at all, unless I'm writing a professional letter around this time of year, in which case I generally conclude with "Best wishes for the holiday season and the new year," which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. To whatever good wishes anyone gives me, I say "Thanks, you too," and that's that.

But seriously, a holiday tree?? It's not a holiday tree. It's a Christmas tradition. Rooted in pagan traditions, yes, but in this day and age and country, it's all about the Christmas. There is no such thing as a Chanukah bush or New Year's topiary. It's a goddamn Christmas tree. And it's not a religious symbol, so put it anywhere you damn well please. If someone put a 10-story crucifix in Rockefeller Center I'd be a little upset (plus, woah, creepy) but a tree with a star on top? Get over yourself.

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