The international arm of the Transport Workers Union is stunned and angry that its Local 100, representing New York subway and bus workers, turned down a contract offer from management and ordered its members to walk off their jobs, CBS2 News has learned.
Sources within other large public employee unions tell CBS2 reporter Marcia Kramer that the TWU’s international leadership is considering taking over the local and seeking a settlement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Those sources say the upper level of the TWU thinks the MTA’s latest offer is fair and worthy of further consideration and negotiation. They stand against a militant faction within Local 100 that pressed hard for a strike.
It’s ridiculous enough that the local union has decided to undermine the international union. We’re having record-cold weather. It’s the height of the Christmas shopping season, and of the holiday travel and tourist season. Everybody in the city is affected by this. Additionally, this is an illegal strike. The amount of animosity and anger among the seven million people affected by this is tremendous. The N Y Sun (via Maria) explained yesterday,
The New York transit strike begun today is a blatantly illegal act of economic sabotage by a union so selfish that it is willing to destroy one of the most important business weeks in the city in a last-ditch attempt to preserve privileges that most private sector employees can only dream of — like the ability to retire at age 55 with a full pension, or the ability to not contribute at all to health insurance costs.
Just yesterday I was talking to a friend who spent one hour walking to work and one hour walking home in this cold weather. She’s willing to spend three hours a day, in addition to her regular work schedule, driving a NYC bus (yes, she knows how) if it means bringing the city back to normal.
It may be the worst miscalculation from a labor leader since the baseball umpires’ strike of 1999.
Merry Christmas, TWU. You’ll understand if Roger Toussaint standing on a podium spouting off about how deplorable your working conditions are while he makes $110k a year with an SUV on the ready fails to strike a chord in the depths of my heart.
The N Y Sun, today
Early in the morning the president of the Transport Workers Union International, Michael O’Brien, a political adversary of Mr. Toussaint, urged the union not to strike, a stance that suggested an internal rift between the international and the local union.
Later in court, a lawyer for the international union, David Rosen, said the parent union would not provide any financial assistance to its local, whose assets are said to be $3.6 million plus the value of their seven-story union headquarters on the West Side of Manhattan.
“The union is engaged in an unauthorized strike,” Mr. Rosen said.
As a result, Judge Jones withdrew the orders of contempt against the international union.
News Copy asks,
The question now is why [TWU local president] Roger Toussaint is not in jail for contempt of court
Enough is enough. Throw Toussaint in jail, fire the striking workers, and get the transport running again.
And, by the way, Bloomberg LP, the company that mayor Bloomberg started, didn’t offer pension plans (it offered a 401K, not a vested pension plan), automatic pay raises, or non-contributory health benefits to its employees even in the days when Mike ran it.
Update, 1:44PM Transit officials said about 1,000 transit workers crossed pickets Tuesday and were put to work cleaning and doing paperwork. Put them behind the wheel, Mike!
Update, 2:21PM Throw Roger from the train! (emphasis mine)
The most furious of all should be the 33,700 workers who are on the street without paychecks and facing huge penalties for violating the Taylor Law.
They are about to lose thousands of dollars each – and their union will be financially broken by $1 million-a-day fines – unless they pressure Toussaint to return them to service, having gained all they are ever going to gain through his extortion. Remarkably, the president of the TWU International is urging the transit workers to go back to work on their own, en masse. And well they should, because the makings of a good deal await them.
3PM: Mayor Bloomberg: Get the Buses Running. (my friend will agree with this)
New York has plenty of licensed school bus drivers, tour-bus drivers, regional commuter-bus drivers, and more. Might not some or most of them want a few hundred dollars in extra pay during the week before Christmas for working some city shifts?
Update, December 22 Welcome, James Wolcott readers! Please do read my follow-up post.
(technorati tags transit strike)