By Esther Wang

When you get on the bus or ride the trains, you see the people who keep cities running — bus drivers, subway conductors, and other “transit workers” who in New York City are employed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). But transit workers often don’t get what they deserve.

Luckily the Transport Workers Union (TWU) helps them fight for their rights, and in December 2005 the New York City TWU voted to go on strike (stop working until needs are met) because, said TWU President Roger Toussaint, they “are tired of being disrespected.”

They were working without a contract, meaning their salaries hadn’t been raised in years. For three days, the strike shut down New York City. Finally, the MTA decided to offer the workers what they wanted — a new contract, fairer pay, pensions, and better, though more expensive, health care.

But the transit workers did not vote to keep the contract. Many believe they should not have to pay for health care, and if they start paying a little, they will eventually have to pay a lot. When you see transit workers, let them know you support them!

Union: A group of people with similar jobs who work together to fight for their rights.

Pension: Money workers put aside when they work and get after they stop working.