A few months ago, Transport Workers Union Local 100 settled an agreement with the owners of three private bus lines in Queens, N.Y. The settlement was a fair one. It took a few work stoppages to convince the owners that the union was serious about its demands. The unity amongst all sections of Local 100, primarily a union of subway workers and city-owned bus line employees, was the reason for this success. The public supported the strikes. But the Bloomberg administration is balking.
Why are they involved? Simple. These bus lines, while being private, cannot exist without a serious subsidy from the City of New York. In the not-too-distant future, these lines must be reunited with all other public bus lines in NYC.
During the original struggle, Bloomberg refused to guarantee job protection between the bus lines in the event of the closing of one company. But, the companies decided to grant that security demand. In public hearings, the city’s transportation head, speaking for Bloomberg, in opposing worker job security, said that such assurances would be anti-competitive. Now these same characters are refusing to adequately fund health benefits.
They are reneging on their promise of December 2001, when they told Local 100 that the City would make the same contributions to the private lines’ benefit fund that they did for the municipal workers labor contract. This level of contributions would have prevented this strike.
This action on the part of Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire who made his money in a non-union broadcasting company, has provoked a shutdown of bus service in Queens, starting June 17.
An emergency meeting of Local 100’s executive board voted to fully support the Queens bus drivers and mechanics. There is a full mobilization of the union’s elected leadership, staff, and membership.
A special notice, sent to all union members from Local 100 President Roger Toussaint, said, “Don’t Scab on Your Brothers and Sisters in Queens!” and an emergency notice will be posted throughout the transit systems on union bulletin boards.
“The New York City Transit Authority/Operating Authority has issued a call for employees to report to depots in Queens to work overtime in order to break the strike of Local 100 members on the Queens Private Bus Lines,” the notice said. “I call on you to stand by the founding slogan of Local 100, ‘United, Invincible!’”
Additionally, the Executive Board voted to provide all possible financial help to the drivers and mechanics.
This may be a very long strike.
– A transit worker