Labor Pain

Transit workers leader Roger Toussaint is already up against the MTA's prickly negotiators, the mayor's lawsuits, and a clock that is rapidly running out. But he's also got something else to worry about: a vice president of his own union local who is a longtime disciple of Independence Party guru Fred Newman and who holds some odd ideas about labor solidarity.

In the midst of a Toussaint press conference this afternoon at the Grand Hyatt hotel where talks are being held, TWU vice president John Mooney burst into the room, shouting, "No secret deals! No secret deals!"

Mooney told any reporter willing to listen that he was being kept out of the bargaining sessions. "They're meeting in this building and I haven't been told where," he complained.

Union democracy aside, Mooney's colleagues might have their reasons. The dissident vice president brought a $3.3 million lawsuit against Toussaint this year complaining he and others were being blocked from participating in the local's decision-making. The lawsuit was handled by Harry Kresky, another Newman devotee who, like Newman and his protege, Lenora Fulani, handed the Independence Party line to Bloomberg in 2001 and this year.

After threatening in 2002 to smack the local union with huge fines if its members walked off the job, the mayor didn't have much chance of winning the local's endorsement (it went with Freddy Ferrer).

But Mooney had no problem with his union's antagonist. As he told the Voice last summer, "Yeah, I think Bloomberg is the best candidate."


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