The Strike: Communications Report Card

The strike is over. We’d all go back to work, except everyone’s on vacation.

Here’s how the key players came off in communicating their messages:

Governor George Pataki: He tried to look tough for the cameras. But why was he in New Hampshire as the strike broke? He almost pretended to care. C+

Transit Workers Union Leader Roger Toussaint or Madame Toussaud or Robert Duvall: Let’s see, he cost business owners hundreds of millions of dollars, made getting around town a royal pain for commuters and tourists, and waged a strike only to reneg a few days later without a single demand met. Even worse, despite all the time he’s been in front of the cameras, no one even knows who his name is – except for the transit workers, who need to remember who to vote out of office next year. He gets an F. Even though he did point out a few flaws in the MTA’s budgeting, the MTA actually looked pretty good next to this guy, and the MTA never looks good.

MTA: Okay, so what’s this whole billion-dollar surplus about, and why are you completely mismanaging it? That’s the one question the MTA has yet to answer, and Mayor Mike rightly acknowledged in one press conference that there’s some fat the organization should trim. However, going up against Francois Truffaud, these guys looked downright saintly. They took no blame at all for the strike. A solid B.

Transit Workers: It’s hard to look too good when the mayor and press point out you make more than teachers, police officers, and firefighters. And why exactly were they subjecting themselves to two days of docked pay for every day they were on strike? Okay, so it’s a union thing. And these people were just pawns in the game. A few of them even broke picket lines. But they’re also no better off than they were before the strike. At least we can be thankful for one thing: these aren’t the people teaching our kids, or patroling the streets, or putting out fires. They did earn a modicum of pity, enough for a C-.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg: The guy never held back his emotion. He was disgusted, angry, and disappointed. He shared the pain of the small business owners and walked alongside commuters. Most amazingly, the city ran better than just about anyone would have expected. Still, he never came off as the hero. He didn’t try. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, in a brief moment of cheering commuters coming home across the Brooklyn Bridge, radiated more energy and charisma. Instead of playing the hero, Mike showed he can be something even greater: a human being. For his integrity and accomplishments, and for staying out of the picture during the points when he didn’t have anything to contribute, he gets an A.