News From OSA - January, 2006
THE TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION. The Transport Workers Union strike was both illegal and entirely justified. The MTA had a demand on the table to reduce the value of the pensions for workers newly hired. The TWU said no. The rage expressed by the Mayor, the Governor and the newspaper editorials was phoney from the start. The MTA had chosen the wrong union to intimidate.
In our last contract we, the Organization of Staff Analysts, accepted raises below the rate of inflation and we had to offer give backs as well. We accepted because we had no choice.
The MTA thought that the TWU would not care about the workers not yet hired. They were wrong. The MTA thought they would frighten the TWU with the law even though the law, as written, is lop-sided and unfair. They were wrong. The MTA thought the public and the other unions would abandon the TWU. They were wrong.
The cost of the strike is enormous. The retailers and the hotels took a great loss just before Christmas. The entire city was affected for three days and many workers lost wages. The establishment would like to put all the blame on the TWU. How dare ordinary workers strike against this employer just because their employer is being unfair.
The Transport Workers Union does not have a history of irresponsible strikes nor have they taken to the picket lines often over the past century. Even so, Mike Quill was called a Communist and a devil by N.Y. Daily News editorials long before Roger Toussaint was even born. Today, there is a large Bus Depot on the west side of Manhattan named after Mike. Thanks to Mike Quill and the Transport Workers Union, tens of thousands of families have had good food on the table and the cost of decent housing paid in return for the labor of their breadwinners.
It was not the Taylor Law that ended the TWU strike. It ended when the MTA took diminished pensions off the table.
The establishment rants about draconian penalties as if such had never been tried before. In fact, the Condon Wadlin Law existed before there ever was a Taylor Law. Under Condon Wadlin, tens of thousand of teachers were fired, tens of thousands of welfare workers, tens of thousands of transit workers and tens of thousands of other government employers as well. In fact, in 1965, the welfare workers were fired, by telegram, on three separate occasions during a single month. They kept picketing and, eventually, they won, as well as the teachers and the transit workers and the others. All the firings were cancelled because, otherwise, our city would not function.
The cost to the workers and their union for this justified strike is very high. Each worker lost three days pay for a start. The fines will amount to another six days gross pay or about nine days of net pay. Each worker will have lost thousands of dollars. The union fines and penalties are on top of the cost to each member.
Now it is our turn.
Thanks to the TWU, the diminishment of pensions will not be a fact in place when we next approach the bargaining table. Thanks to the TWU, the Mayor may be a bit more cautious when he offers contracts with raises below the rate of inflation and asks us for give backs as well. Thanks to the TWU, all of us can feel pride that at least one group of unionized workers stood up for the little guy, born or unborn, on the job or not yet hired.
A mailing and a return envelope are on their way to you. We ask each member to contribute between ten and fifty dollars on behalf of the TWU. OSA dues are very low and we do not do special assessments. If you can give more, please do so.
Make out the checks or money orders to the Organization of Staff Analysts and Related Titles or OSART and mail them back to OSART in the return envelope. You will receive a certificate to acknowledge that you gave. You may even choose to post the certificate in your office as a sign of your solidarity with labor. We are awaiting instructions from the Municipal Labor Committee on where the money should be sent, but we decided to get to the matter immediately.
Our own salaries, working conditions, pensions and health benefits are dependent on the strength of labor. We owe a debt to others, both those present and those long departed. This day we have a chance to pay that debt "forward" by helping those who stood up for us all.
Please give generously.
You can download an article by Daily News columnist Denis Hamill on the Transport Workers Union here.
The photos on this page were taken at the December 19, 2005 rally organized by the NYC Central Labor Council in support of TWU Local 100.
NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE.You can download an update on OSA's current contract negotations here.
OSA GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING. The next General Membership meeting is to be held on Thursday, January 26, 2006 starting at 6pm sharp in the union office at 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707. A meeting notice can be downloaded here to remind you and other brothers and sisters of the date.