CONTRACT BULLETIN #5
By Marty Goodman, Local 100 Executive Board member
December, 13, 2005
ANGRY MEMBERSHIP AUTHORIZES STRIKE!
THIS YEAR'S MASS meeting on December 10th was huge. Thousands packed the Javits Center to overflowing. They gave notice to the MTA and the TWU leadership that the $1 billion plus surplus in the form of a big raise belongs to transit workers - period. No givebacks. No bullshit. No excuses. 2005 is payback time!
2005 IS PAYBACK TIME!
When President Toussaint took the vote on a strike authorization the membership yelled, "Strike!" instead of "Yes." The vote gave the Executive Board the power to call a strike, if necessary. The Local 100 By-laws gives the Executive Board the final say on whether or not we accept the final proposal or we walk. But, members beware. Many, if not most of the Executive Board are on Toussaint's payroll!
CONTRACT COUNTDOWN: 2002 AND 2005
Back in 2002, Toussaint also had us pumping our fists and yelling 'Strike.' Toussaint was installed as president in 2001 after defeating former Local 100 President Willie James in a union election. The discredited James had negotiated a sellout contract in 1999. Members thought they now had a fighter on our side.
After the strike authorization vote in 2002, Toussaint negotiated behind closed doors a three year contract with a first year zero, with a taxed $1,000 "chump sum," plus 3% and 3% raises. It also removed our no-layoff clause and Bus Divisions were consolidated. After it was revealed that there was a hidden $500 million surplus at contract time 2002, not a deficit as the TA claimed, Toussaint refused to re-open the contract and fight for a raise. Members were stunned.
Will a sellout happen again? Who knows, but the same scenario as 2002 is now in place. As before, we are demanding an 8, 8 and 8% raise and had a strike authorization vote with several days of negotiating to go. The process is really meant to take control out of members' hands. Membership outrage is the only force capable of preventing another sellout!
We would be in a stronger position if we had told the MTA to deliver its' final contract proposal to a mass membership meeting for a vote on the evening of December 15th. That would have tightened the screws even more on the TA. It would also put the membership in control, especially if the final Executive Board vote were held in full view of the membership.
But, this time, there's much in our favor. The MTA liars have been forced to admit to a billion plus surplus which, no doubt, is probably much larger. There's no reason in hell we should get screwed again with a billion plus surplus. We deserve a big raise and job security with no givebacks. Hold Toussaint to that agenda!
In addition, it's not just transit workers that are mad at Transit. Most riders know that the 33% fare hike was based on a phony debt and are angry over service cuts like closed booths and conductor-less trains. Conclusion? Most riders, working people, will likely support us whether or not we strike. We have the power to champion working people in 2005!
DEMAND A 10, 10 AND 10% RAISE AND JOB SECURITY! STAY STRONG!
If the MTA leaves us no choice but to strike, remember that our solidarity is the most important weapon we have. The City Comptroller estimates that a one-week strike would cost the city $1.6 billion. That's far more than Taylor Law fines and/or injunctions could squeeze out of us. That's where our true power lies.
Sure, the newspaper editorials will rave against us. And, just watch as our so-called friends in the Democratic Party run for cover if we shut it down. They have the job of protecting the MTA and keeping transit workers down, broke and insecure. That's their job, but we have ours!
We should not go back until everyone, including new hires, are protected and former Private Bus Lines, now MTA bus workers, are finally given a just contract. Solidarity must be number one!
Remember, Taylor Law fines can be beaten. How? By not coming back until fines are waived by the MTA/Pataki. Taylor Law fines have been waived before. Transit workers have the power to make it happen again. Stay strong!
TOUSSAINT: KEEP CONTRACT STRATEGY OUT OF MEMBER'S HANDS?
No one knows except perhaps Toussaint and MTA President Kalikow - what may happen on December 15th. Just as in 2002, Toussaint has kept his strategy secret from Executive Board discussion. What's more, my many calls for extra mass contract meetings and mass mobilizations were ignored or ruled out of order.
Finally, after calls by Toussaint in November for a wimpy "moderate pay increase," the official union demand is now 8%, 8% and 8%, passed by the Executive Board just before the December 10th mass meeting. Toussaint had already made public the 8, 8 and 8% demand before any vote was taken. Yet, the wage demand should have also been voted on at the Javits Center. But, he had come under fire from advocates of a 10, 10 and 10% demand. He had to up the ante.
To insure that members played no role in shaping contract strategy, like the wage demand, there was no discussion from the floor by the membership and no vote on any aspect of strategy other than Toussaint's strike authorization vote.
As a result, an important motion for a strong contract fight was never heard by the membership. That motion called for an aggressive wage demand of 10, 10 and 10% but also a contract 'Job Security Agreement' against downsizing and restoring our "No-layoff Clause." The motion called for a strike on December 16th if the MTA offer did not go "a long way toward addressing these demands."
Several officers, including myself, Station VP John Mooney, Car Equipment VP Ainsley Stewart and TA Surface VP Billy Pelletier and others backed the motion.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND GOOD LUCK TO US ALL!