New York Transit Strike: Report on Day 2

This report on TWU Local 100 President Toussaint’s press conference is by Train Operator Steve Downs:

Roger Toussaint held a press conference this afternoon in which he responded to Bloomberg’s charges that we are “thugs” and “selfish.” He explained that the issues in the strike go beyond the issue of pensions to include a range of questions of how we are treated on the job. And, in a significant step, he said that if the MTA takes their demand for changes in the pension off the table, he would recommend to the Executive Board that we return to work and resume contract talks.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Local’s website. It has been redesigned in light of the strike and has much useful information on it. Take a look at the link for Rumor Control. It addresses a number of concerns that have come up, including possible penalties and members who are crossing picket lines. They will probably post a transcript of Toussaint’s press conference, as well.

The numbers on the picket line at Bedford Park grew a bit today and we continued to receive strong support from people passing by on the street.

These notes are by Naomi Allen:

After Toussaint’s press conference another press conference was held, featuring other local labor leaders, all urging the MTA to drop the demand for changes in transit pensions.  

Earlier in the day, Ed Watt was quoted on radio explaining away the International union’s refusal to sanction Local 100’s strike, and putting the best possible construction on their appeal to the judge not to impose fines on the International. He claimed that was no big deal--they were just doing that to avoid heavy fines, and it didn’t mean a thing.

The Local has also come out with a Rumor Control leaflet that says: “The International did what they were required to do under the law. The judge prohibited them from ‘engaging, causing, instigating, inciting, or in any way aiding or abetting or encouraging or condoning a strike.’ He told them they had to ‘notify all members of Local 100 of their obligation to cease any and all strike or strike-related activity.’ That’s what they did. In the 1980 strike, the International did the same thing, while the Local kept the lines strong for 11 days. Nobody in the TWU has ever ordered Union members to scab.”

Maybe that means they have reached some accommodation with the International. It seems to me that if the International were going to impose a receivership, they would have done it within the first day or so.

Picket lines remained strong and lively at East New York complex. We lit fires in barrels to keep warm, and at lunchtime someone brought meat and bagels to grill. In the early afternoon several hundred strikers took over Jamaica Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue for about half an hour in a noisy and high-spirited march. The police just stepped back and let us have the streets.

Tomorrow (Thursday), top leaders of the Local will be in Supreme Court in Brooklyn, 360 Adams Street, at 11 a.m. to answer charges of contempt of court. The judge has suggested he might sentence one or more of them to jail. Anyone who can get there can show support for the Local by attending the hearing.