My feet sure hurt, but it will be a small price to pay if this strike achieves its goal of challenging the aggressive management tactics in city contract negotiations.
In order for that to happen, the strikers need your support. At the end of this entry, you'll find a list of contact numbers. Along with walking on the picket lines or doing other on-the-ground strike support, it's a good idea to write or call local media and political leaders about your support for the strikers.
In case you're wavering in your desire to support the transit workers and are confused by the current incomplete explanations of the iesues you're seeing the local media, here's as much of a rundown as I can give.
The Big Picture:
First of all, what's going on between the MTA and the TWU is part of an ongoing trend not only in all city contract negotiations, but in contract negotiations in general. No matter what you hear about these contracts in the corporate media, whose owners are anti-union by definition, in industry after industry, managment's contract offers call for concessions and cutbacks from labor. Since at least the 1970s, unions have not fought management's offers, but have taken concessions in hopes of hanging on to their union or to their jobs. As union leadership has become increasingly ineffective, the percentage of American workers in unions has decreased.
In the last round of city contract negotiations, New York City has fit this general pattern. With anti-union mayors, state legislatures and governors, city workers have faced absurd demands for give-backs from management. City employees from DC-37, to the UFT and to the Transit Workers have been forced to "pay back" any cost of living wage increase with "productivity increases," while taking cuts in benefits, and sacrificing the benefits of newer workers in a pattern union people call "eating their young." While busily handing out tax-payer dollars to billionaires and corporations, such as Michael Ratner, American Express, and Goldman-Sachs, the city cries "poor!" and with a combination of give-backs and low-ball raises, hands its essential workers pay cuts.
In standing up to the demands that the MTA is making, the TWU is not being selfish, as has been charged in the local media, but is standing up for all city workers, and for all workers who have faced similar management demands. These demands have big implications. If you listen to the pundits on the mainstream media in NYC talk about the pension issue, for example, you'll hear them argue that "pensions in general are "breaking the back of municipal governments," and when you hear this, you can bet it's a quick leap from reducing pensions in one contract to reducing them in another one. Given the current attack on social security, and the "state of emergency" that's leading calls for privatization, don't blame me for being skeptical about the pension crisis. it's easy to convince people with aging family members' whose care is expensive that the city just might not be able to afford pensions anymore because (some) people live so damn long these days. But cities pay for lots of expensives things that none of us could afford on our own. Did you ever try building a highway or repairing a freeway? Damn! That's expensive. What about bridge maintenance? (last decade's repairs on the Williamsburg bridge cost $1 billion dollars).
Some of those things, like the famous bridge to nowhere in Alaska, are paid for with federal tax dollars. Do you ever hear a city's leaders say that we are going to have to get rid of roads, bridges, or landfills, or palatial mansions for the mayor because "these things are really expensive!" (ok, we do hear about it, but only about New Orleans).
You've probably also heard reporters talk about the "Parent Union" and its rejection of the strike. What's this about and why does it happen, does it suggest that the strike is somehow illegitimate?
Last night, as we were waiting and waiting to hear from the union about whether the strike was on or not, it turns out that the international's president, Michael T. O'Brian, disciple of past pres, and friend to Al D'Amato, Sonny Hall, and winner of the dubiously named "George Meany" award, was not supporting the move to strike. He has even publicly called for TWU members to cross picket lines.
Yet again, the TWU strike is part of a larger pattern here. Surprise, Surprise, I can't believe I'm hearing about a international union leader who doesn't represent the wishes of the rank and file membership of the union. In this case, there is a long-running feud between the Transit workers' international leadership and the TWU local 100 because in 2001, the local voted in leadership from a democracy caucus within the union that organized for years before Toussaint's victory.
Now that some fear the international will try to take over the Local in a hostile move to curb the power of this active membership, it puts Toussaint's move in the last round of contract negotiations into a bit of perspective. The consequences of such a move would be a blow against TWU, for sure, and worse, it attempts to strike another blow against the rank and file democracy movement in the labor movement. Whatever criticisms you may have of Toussaint, TWU Local 100 is doing the right thing this time around. OK, here are the numbers:
Contact Info (from JFREJ alerts)
To email the Mayor and Governor, you need to go to the web addresses below and fill out a form. If you contact the news outlets, you need to include your name, phone number, and address for verification.
US Senator Chuck Schumer (212) 486-4430
US Senator Hillary Clinton (212) 688-6262
New York Times Letter to the Editor
Daily News Letters to the Editor
2. Take it to the Street: Support TWU Local 100! Join a picket line in your neighborhood!
* you should probably go during rush hour. * *
Gunhill Depot: 1910 Bartow Avenue
Pelham Barn/Westchester Sq. Yard: Eastchester Rd. & Water Street
Zerega CMF: 750 Zerega Avenue
180th Street Yard: 1151 East 180 Street
West Farms Depot: 1100 East 177th Street
Concourse Yard: 3119 Jerome Avenue
Jerome Yard: Jerome Ave. & Van Courtlandt Ave.
239th St. Barn: 4570 Furman Avenue
240th St. Barn: 5911 Broadway
241st St. White Plains Road. (RTO)
242nd St. Yard
Eastchester Depot: Interstate 95 at Exit 13
Yonkers Depot: 59 Babcock St.
Tiffany Iron: 1170 Oakpoint Avenue
Woodlawn 1 & 9 Lines (RTO)
370 Jay St./130 Livingston
Bergen St. Shop
East New York Depot/Shop: 1700 Bushwick Avenue
Flatbush Ave / Nostrand (RTO)
Flatbush Depot: Flatbush & Utica Ave.
Coney Island Yard: Avenue X & McDonald
Ulmer Park Depot: Cropsey Ave. & Bay
Jackie Gleason Depot: 871 Fifth Avenue
Pitkin Yard: 1434 Sutter Avenue
Livonia Shop: 824 Linwood Shop
Atlantic Ave/Bergen Street Shop: 1415 Bergen Street
Linden Shop: 1500 Linden Blvd.
Cozine: 50 Cozine Avenue
Rockaway Parkway Carnarsie L-line
71st & Continental G,R & V lines (RTO)
179th St. F-line (RTO)
College Point Depot: 128-15 28th Avenue
Corona Barn: 126-53 Willets Point Blvd.
Ditmars Blvd. N & W lines (RTO)
Fresh Pond Depot: 56-99 Fresh Pond Road
Jamaica Barn: 7815 Grand Central Parkway
Jamaica Depot: 114-15 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Main St. 7-line (RTO)
Parsons / Archer E & J lines (RTO)
Triboro Coach Depot: 8501 24th Avenue
Woodside Electronic Shop: 33-33 54th Street
34th St. - Penn Station *
Chambers St. Flagging Quarters (RTO)
Grand Central Station (RTO)
Kingsbridge Depot: 4065 10th Avenue
207th St. Yard: 3961 10 Avenue
Manhattanville Depot: 666 West 133rd St.
100th Street Depot: 1552 Lexington Avenue at 100th Street
Michael J. Quill Depot: 525 11th Avenue
West 53rd St Power/RCC: 53rd St. btw 8/9
126th Street Depot: 2460 Second Avenue
148th St. Lenox Ave.
168th St. C Line