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ABC, NBC Gloss over Transit Strikes Illegality

     Opening their newscasts with the New York City transit strike, the December 20 morning news programs focused on the inconvenience to commuters and the expected cost to the city, but only CNN, CBS, and Fox News Channel (FNC) portrayed the strike as illegal, while ABCs Good Morning America and NBCs Today presented the strikes illegality only as an argument posed by city officials.

     The [Metropolitan] Transportation Authority immediately declared the strike illegal and headed to court, reported NBCs Lester Holt from the Brooklyn Bridge while ABCs David Muir, also reporting from the 122-year-old bridge noted, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling the strike illegal and reprehensible and says it could cost the city as much as $400 million a day.

     But the illegal nature of the Transit Workers Union (TWU) strike is not merely the citys side of the story  it is explicitly defined in the law. Since 1967, state law in New York has forbidden walkouts by public employees within the Empire State. Section 210 of the Taylor Law reads: No public employee or employee organization shall engage in a strike, and no public employee or employee organization shall cause, instigate, encourage, or condone a strike.

     The Taylor Law established a detailed, four-step process for resolving labor disputes without resorting to a strike, starting with non-binding mediation and ending in legislative hearing. The city of New York and the TWU had not entered the third step, binding arbitration, before the walkout began.

     While CNNs American Morning, FNCs Fox and Friends, and CBSs Early Show reported the strike as illegal, none of the morning shows, including Good Morning America and Today, noted how well-paid the unionized New York transit workers are.

     The Business & Media Institute  previously documented how CNNs In the Money hosts reported the 33,000-employee transit union would hold the 8.5 million residents of the Big Apple hostage. Co-host Susan Lisovicz noted in the December 17 broadcast that transit workers can cash in a full pension at age 55, while The New York Times reported the unionized employees have an average base salary of $47,000 and average earnings of $55,000, including overtime. Lisovicz added that rookies in the New York Police Department earn about half what entry-level employees in the transit authority earn.