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Latest News - December 2012

December 4, 2012
One-quarter of MTA workers can't vote for union president because they are in arrears on their dues
Source: New York Daily News
By: Pete Donohue

One-quarter of transit workers are ineligible to vote for their union president because they are in arrears on their dues a lingering effect of the 2005 strike that crippled the system for three days before Christmas.

Approximately 10,000 of the roughly 37,000 members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 are behind on their dues.

Generally, the dues are automatically deducted from workers' paychecks. But a judge halted those deductions for more than a year in 2007 as punishment for the illegal three-day strike right before Christmas. Many didn't make payments on their own or fell behind, costing the union $9 million.

The union’s weakened bargaining position is a central issue in the presidential contest, which pits incumbent John Samuelsen against challengers Michael Cordero and Joe Campbell.

The ballots must be casted by 8:30 a.m. on Friday.

Cordero is a subway car cleaner and a former union hall staffer who hasn't before held elected office. Campbell is the elected chairman of a Local 100 division representing subway mechanics.

Cordero said he faults Samuelsen, a track worker, for not figuring out a way to get more transit workers back into the fold to strengthen Local 100's position when dealing with managers on issues like discipline and work rules.

"It's like a wounded animal in the jungle,” he said. “I call management hyenas. They smell blood. We need all 35,000 in good standing, all ready to fight."

Campbell has criticized Samuelsen for not taking a tougher stance in contract negotiations.

Well before the last contract expired on Jan. 15, Samuelsen said the union would keep negotiating if a deal wasn't reached by then. That goes against a Local 100 tradition of setting a hard deadline while fueling speculation that workers could walk out and shut down the system if an acceptable agreement wasn't hashed out.

Samuelsen said the number of union members in good standing increased from about 18,000 to more than 27,000 during his first term in Dec. 2009, and said "phony bluster" about a deadline would be pointless.

"This union is absolutely not prepared to strike," said Samuelsen. "We're still rebuilding from the last strike. There's no way you can bluff the company into settling a contract with the phony bluster of establishing a deadline."

He said Local 100 is the only public sector state union that has refused to accept the pattern Gov. Cuomo has successfully pushed onto unions that feature three years without raises, unpaid furloughs and big increases in workers' out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.



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