Monday, April 27, 2009

No Contract For TWU Still No Plan from Toussaint & Tate

The Daily News reported last week that the MTA will soon meet with Acting President Curtis Tate to tell him there is no money for raises this year. This bad news comes only a week after the MTA announced that 1500 TWU members may lose their jobs.

What is our Union’s strategy for getting a good contract in the face of this terrible news? According to our Union’s website, the Tate/Roberts/Watt team’s response is to “not attend” the meeting to learn the details of the problem. Pretty feeble response to a really bad situation, don’t you think?

The fact is the Tate/Roberts/Watt team doesn’t know what to do and is in a state of panic. They have repeatedly shown that they have no idea about how to properly run Local 100, return it to the power it once had and get a good contract for the members.

For a year, during all of 2008, the Tate/Roberts/Watt team allowed Toussaint to secretly negotiate our contract with the MTA. The membership was not mobilized for a contract campaign and not one word was ever said to the membership about the progress of negotiations. The only progress report we ever got was the shocking news that Toussaint decided to put our contract into binding arbitration without getting any Executive Board approval. The Tate/Roberts/Watt team just stood there silently and let Toussaint take away the right of the membership to vote on the contract.

After putting our contract into binding arbitration, it was doubly shocking to find out that Toussaint appointed himself to be one of the arbitrators. Again, the Tate/Roberts/Watt team and their Executive Board simply stood there, did nothing and let Toussaint give himself the power to decide the terms of our contract.

In early January on the Union’s website Toussaint promised that, “In the weeks ahead, arbitration hearings will proceed and a final decision will be issued.” To our knowledge hearings have not occurred. And weeks have turned into months as the news about what is happening gets worse and worse.

After leading a disastrous strike that nearly destroyed Local 100, Toussaint and Watt should have rebuilt the Union and organized the members for a full court press to get a good contract. Instead, it appears that Toussaint - supported every step of the way by the Tate/Roberts/Watt team - thought he could get a good contract by simply being nice and asking for one.

As one of three Arbitrators, all Toussaint now has to do to get us a contract with good wage increases, no layoffs, no bus regionalization, no new reduced pension tiers and which restores our free health insurance is get one of the other two arbitrators to agree with him. The Tate/Roberts/Watt team’s strategy for getting such a contract has been to bet on Toussaint while keeping the membership completely demobilized. That’s a bad strategy. The recent demonstration - where only about 1,000 members showed-up to protest against layoffs - shows how hard it is to carry on an effective fight after spending years demobilizing the membership.

If elected, Take Back Our Union (TBOU) will rebuild Local 100 by organizing, mobilizing and uniting the membership in a Union that has real power in the subways and on the buses and in the halls of government to get us good contracts. We don’t bet. We believe in a sure thing: having a Union with real power that management must respect. John Samuelsen President candidate Take Back Our Union (TBOU).

No comments: