Tuesday, July 08, 2014

How Can LIRR Workers Stay Busy During a Strike?

Some of you may be aware, the Long Island Rail Road unions are planning to  strike the week of July 20th, leaving thousands of commuters out of luck, if they don’t get everything they want in a new contract.  The strike appears to be an inevitable reality, as both sides of the negotiation are acting like blues singers whose “woman done them wrong.”  

I don’t claim to have all the facts.  Quite frankly, when I review the newspaper reports I'm instantly bored by the whining.  From what I have read, it sounds as though the workers want:

* A hefty raise
* Fully paid healthcare (this is a rare benefit these days)
* Better looking uniforms (they SHOULD want this, even if they don’t)
* A pony for every employee, upgraded to a better pony every 6 months

The pony is a slight exaggeration.  They only want a pony every 9 months.  They’re reasonable people, for goodness sake.

If the strike drags on, I suppose the conductors, rail workers, and engineers will have free time.  I've never been a member of a striking union, but assume you can't picket all day.  They will need to fill this time, and I have some ideas.  A couple of jobs and one hobby. 

Job 1: Shopping Cart Track Installation at Grocery Stores.  Have you ever been in a supermarket on a crowded day?  Why do people find it so hard to move their carts to the side of the aisle while choosing between Cheerios and the store brand, “Shop Rite Oaties?”

I have a solution that will make everyone happy, AND create jobs.  The answer is.... Rails!  Yes rails.   And what a difference it would make.  You move down the aisle with your cart on a rail, and if you want to stop and admire the Warhol-like soup display, you navigate your cart onto one of those side "service" rails.  Other shoppers can pass.  Food shopping Nirvana achieved.

Job 2: Library Shushers.  Opportunity calls for the conductors who service quiet cars.  There are numerous open jobs for them as greeters.  They can welcome patrons with a friendly “SHHHH!” as they enter the building.  Or, they can choose to say nothing.  After all, quiet in the library is a customer-enforced policy.  It isn't up to them to ensure the rule is followed.

Hobby: Take up a musical instrument.  If the jobs above don't pan out.  There's always hobbies.  They could take up model trains!  But that may be a bit too close to home.  If Grandpa's old accordion needs repair, and a guitar is too much of a commitment, there's songwriting.  You just need paper and pen.  To help them get started, I offer up the following lyrics.  The rest is up to them.

Oh my baby
She done hold back my raise
Oh my baby
Wants me to make co-pays
Oh my baby
Won't buy me a pony that neighs
Oh no, oh no
I guess I’ve got them
Gone on strike blues

Happy commuting, and may you encounter uncommon sense.

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