NEW YORK-The powerful Transport Workers Union Local 100 unveiled a new campaign aimed at ridding this city of its current mayor, the billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

Local 100, which represents tens of thousands of workers in city bus and subways, has made a portion of its website available for the “Take a hike, Mike” campaign, with an announcement that the local “stands up to the bully.”

When the union earlier endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee city Comptroller Bill Thompson for mayor, acting Local 100 president Curtis Tate told the World, “We’re going to do whatever it takes” to ensure Bloomberg’s ouster. Tate promised boots on the street, phone calls, etc.

It appears that the union decided to put that promise into effect, starting at the annual Caribbean Day parade, September 5, in Brooklyn. The TWU Local 100 contingent was headed by, along with TWU leadership, Governor David Paterson; John Liu, the City Councilmember from Queens and Democratic candidate for Comptroller; Letitia James, the progressive councilmember who represents the district in which the parade took place-and Bill Thompson.

“TWU members carried huge signs along the route that depicted Bloomberg as a Godzilla crushing citizens beneath his feet,” said Gary Bono, an MTA worker and elected representative in the local. “Meanwhile members passed out anti-Bloomberg palm cards to people along the route and also circulated among the crowds with the palm cards.”

For TWU, the choice was clear: Bloomberg has, over his eight years in office, opposed the union at virtually every turn. When Local 100 workers went on strike in 2005, Bloomberg referred to the largely African-American and Latino workforce as “thugs” and criminals, and led the push for then-president Roger Toussaint to be locked up.

During the most recent round of contract negotiations, Local 100 was making progress with the MTA-until Bloomberg, who controls a number of seats on the authority’s board, made a phone call and stopped the process. Consequently, the negotiations went to binding arbitration, and MTA workers won some concessions. However, though the settlement is binding by law, Bloomberg has been looking for ways to circumvent the TWU workers’ gains.

According to the TWU, “Bloomberg’s ‘plan’ for transit is to replace thousands of experienced union members with low-wage employees working for private contractors. This starts in stations and bus, but if he gets away with it, it will be the whole system.”

Going beyond its own membership, the local has expressed concern for the safety and convenience of riders. Bloomberg doesn’t want to touch the wages of the management, the local noted, but “instead, he wants to hand over station cleaning and maintenance and bus routes in many neighborhoods to the lowest bidder [private contractors], never mind how it affects riders. Does this sound like reform to you?”

 

 

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