Wednesday, December 5, 2007

1500 Members in Attendance for Mass Membership Meeting

On Saturday December 1st, TWU Local 100 held its annual mass membership meeting. Approximately 1500 members showed up for the 4:00 pm meeting located at the Jacob Javits Center in midtown Manhattan. Local 100 Secretary Treasurer Ed Watt was the MC of the meeting and the evening. Speakers for the evening were Bill Thompson, comptroller of NYC; James Little, President, TWU International, and Roger Toussaint, President, TWU-Local 100.
The first speaker was Bill Thompson, the comptroller of NYC, who is running for Mayor of New York City in 2009.

Bill Thompson also serves as Chief Investment Advisor and Custodian of Assets to all of the New York City Pension Funds, and as a Trustee of four of the Pension Funds. The City’s Pension Funds currently have more than $110 billion in assets. He assured TWU Local 100 members that there NYCERS pensions were doing quite well and were secure. Mr. Thompson also stated that the NYC Transit system would not be in a state of good repair until 2022. He talked about meeting with TWU Local 100 leadership about using pension funds to build affordable housing for transit workers as other unions do.

The next speaker, International TWU President James Little gave an overview of TWU. His presentation centered on the organizational changes he made by adding seven new people and more diversity in the civil rights department, and increasing the TWU organizing department from 4 to 14 as well as changes he has made in staff at the international to make it more efficient. Other topics addressed included successful organizing drives in the casinos in Las Vegas and how TWU had sit out to do more organizing in the casinos. Mr. Little also talked about why the TWU endorsed John Edwards and that this was done after discussion amongst TWU leaders and activists, and was not done in a vacuum.

The final speaker of the night was TWU-Local 100 President Roger Toussaint. He started off by stating there was a new, improved relationship between local 100 and the International, and stated a strong and united union must be our goal. He then went on to talk about the MTA Bus contract -- or lack thereof.

For those of you not familiar with MTA Bus, these are the former private line bus members who went out on strike 24 hours before the rest of us. These brothers and sisters in MTA Bus do the same work as our OA and TA Bus members but for less pay. President Toussaint stated that solving the MTA Bus Contract is the # 1 Priority of TWU Local 100.

President Toussaint said the Jan 2009 contract would not be a rerun of the 2002 or the 2005 contract and that every contract is different. He did not talk beyond that on what the 2009 contract priority would be except to say only members and officers in good standing would be allowed to give input on our contract priorities

The President then talked about the new political landscape in NY state and that the 2008 national election would be a dress rehearsal for the NY city elections in 2009. With this in mind, the union has started a very aggressive COPE campaign to collect more funds for their political action plans.

With regards to the 20/50 pension issue, President Toussaint only said that”20/50 may not be attainable in this round of bills.” He stated that we may get only one shot under Governor Spitzer and should we take that shot in 2008, as 2009 or 2010 remains to be seen. He also point out pension improvements would be against the national trend. So the union is looking to come up with the data to support our case that transit workers deserve a 20/50 pension.

The next item on the agenda was the dues check off situation. The consensus was that the union could be without dues check off for quite a bit longer. Whereas the MTA was willing to let Local 100 regain check-offs, the Mayor took a hard line and blocked its return. Therefore, the union has entered what was called PHASE II of collecting union dues and make it a more permanent structure. The meeting closed out at approximately 6:30 p.m.

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