Tell Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki,
and Attorney General Spitzer:
Stop the Union-Busting Attacks on the Transit Workers!
Return to the Bargaining Table, Workers Deserve a Fair Contract!
It is clear that New York state Governor Pataki, New York City Mayor Bloomberg and MTA President Kalikow, on behalf of New York City bankers, intentionally provoked a strike of the Transit Workers' Union Local 100. This strike could be settled in 15 minutes if the Governor, Mayor and the MTA President were to remove their demand aimed at destroying pensions. This demand was inserted at the very last moment of the negotiations prior to the strike deadline on Tuesday. Now there's a racist, anti-worker hysteria being promoted by the big business media to turn public opinion against the strikers. At the same time, the government is attempting to bankrupt the union local with a $1 million per day fine. Now they are threatening to arrest the President of the Transit Workers Union Local 100, Roger Toussaint. We demand that the MTA and City return to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith. The transit workers deserve a fair contract.
By clicking here, you can use the simple mechanism that the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition has set up to send a message to Bloomberg, Pataki, and State Attorney General Spitzer demanding, "No fines, no union busting against the TWU," "Return to the bargaining table ."
Did you know that New York state Governor Pataki, New York City Mayor Bloomberg and MTA President Kalikow provoked the strike by throwing a “stick of dynamite” into the negotiations in the last few hours on Monday? By adding a dramatic demand at the last minute and without warning—a demand they knew the union could not accept—Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow made a strike inevitable. They wanted the strike. They want to blame the union, bankrupt the union, and destroy the possibility of decent pensions for transit workers. The MTA board is dominated by the banks and big business. The bankers and corporate America are engaged in a nationwide strategy to destroy pension plans. If they can do this to the transit workers, they feel they can do it to every workforce in New York City and around the country, unionized and non-unionized alike.
With just hours to go before the second strike deadline on Monday, December 19, MTA President Kalikow upped the ante by adding a brand new demand on the workers: all new employees would be required to take a 4% wage cut by having to pay 6% of their wages to the pension fund. Even if the union would consider this drastic give-back concession, Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow knew full well that the union leadership would be incapable of agreeing to such a demand with only a few hours notice.
Forced on strike, the TWU is now being fined $1 million per day, in an effort to bankrupt and destroy the local. They are now threatening to arrest Roger Toussaint, President of TWU Local 100, for violating the Taylor Act outlawing strikes for public service employees. The Taylor Act is a vicious piece of anti-labor legislation. If labor loses the right to strike, the right to withhold one's labor, then we are on the fast track backwards towards the 18th century where sweatshop labor was the rule, not the exception.
According to the New York Times (Dec. 21), "Yet for all the rage and bluster [from Pataki and Bloomberg], this war [the strike] was declared over a pension proposal that would have saved the Transit Authority less than $20 million over the next three years. It seemed a small figure, considering that the city says every day of the strike will cost its businesses hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenues."
New Yorkers are suffering. It is Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow who should be fined $1 million per day, and who should be jailed for their criminal conspiracy to bust the union, destroy workers’ pensions, and create havoc for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who cannot get to work and school in the middle of December.
Pataki, Bloomberg and Kalikow are using the media to turn worker against worker, and to make transit workers appear as the villains. The real bad guys are hidden by the racist, big business media who echo the lies of the anti-labor politicians. Roger Toussaint and Local 100 have stood up while the bosses and bankers try to put them up against the wall. They deserve our support.
Myth: The members of Transit Workers Union, Local 100, who run the bus and subway systems in New York City, are “overpaid.”
Fact: Newly hired workers start at $35,000 per year in gross (not take-home) pay. That’s way less than it takes to support a family in New York City. With prices of everything rising, the union’s demand for a 6% raise per year might keep up the increases in the cost of living.
Myth: The TWU is “greedy.”
Fact: The union is defending the health care and pension benefits that already exist. The MTA was trying to cut benefits and raise the retirement age from 55 to 62. The MTA wants to force newly hired workers to accept pay cuts of 6% for the first ten years they work. Bus and subway jobs are tough and stressful, working under any and all weather conditions, with high rates of disabling injuries.
Myth: The MTA can’t afford to give the workers a decent contract.
Fact: The MTA admits to having a $1 billion surplus, but it still wants the transit workers to accept a cut in benefits and a wage increase that won’t keep up with inflation.
Myth: Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg are looking out for the people, while the TWU workers are just out for themselves.
Fact: Pataki and Bloomberg represent big business, not working people. Bloomberg’s theatrical walk across the Brooklyn Bridge shouldn’t make anyone forget that he’s a billionaire who lives in total luxury. He’s got a lot of nerve calling TWU President Roger Toussaint and the union membership “cowardly.”
Roger Toussaint and the TWU members have taken a courageous stand risking huge fines and jail time to defend what all working people need and deserve: living wages and real benefits. Millions of workers have lost health care, pensions and seen their wages decline in recent years. The New York City transit workers are saying, “Enough is Enough!” The outcome of this strike is crucial for all workers, whether you’re a union member or not. If a strong union like TWU Lo. 100 can’t defend its benefits and wages, everyone else is in big trouble. All working people should support this strike.
Myth: The Taylor Law and the MTA are in the public interest.
Fact: The Taylor Law is a vicious anti-union law, meant to take away workers’ most basic strength the right to withhold their labor. Denying workers the right to strike means giving the bosses tremendous power. It creates a completely unfair negotiation, and encourages the bosses to try to impose take-away contracts, as the MTA has done to the transit workers. The Taylor Law not only fines workers two days pay for every day on strike, but allows them to be fined $25,000 each. It also allows for the union to be bankrupted by fines of millions of dollars. The Taylor Law should be thrown out.
The MTA is run by real estate and banking executives with the aim of maximizing the profits of the big corporations, banks and stores. MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow is president of one of the city’s biggest real estate firms. His vice-chairs, David Mack and Edward Dunn are real estate and finance executives, respectively.
For workers, and the general public, mass transit is a means of meeting basic needs. For big business, mass transit is a means of making profit. It brings their workers to work and their shoppers to shop. They should pay for mass transit and the buses and subways should be free.
Question: Why is that as the economy keeps growing and rich keep getting richer, working people are supposed to accept cutbacks in our wages, benefits and every government program? Isn’t it time we all said, “Enough is Enough!”