New Transit Union Crew Hits Hard at Former TWU Leaders, MTA on $
The new administration of Transit Workers Union Local 100 -- which swept out the old regime on a Take Back Our Union ticket last year -- is apparently looking back in anger, and leaking details of questionable expenses under the leadership of former Local 100 boss Roger Toussaint and his successor, Curtis Tate. amNY has learned that in 2008, the union sprang for a two trips to Great Adventure for thousands of its members, costing $1.7 million.
Toussaint tells amNY that the union had scaled back its annual Great Adventure "Family Day," which it started in 2001, after litigation resulting from the 2005 transit strike ate into its finances, but went ahead with these last hurrahs -- one held last year, another scheduled for later this year -- because they couldn't cancel the reservation. He said union officials have constantly and conscientiously re-negotiated its deals with the amusement park, and that this expense was only coming up as "a political issue more than anything else."
The new administration certainly has good reason to brace up its members' support. Despite some recent concessions from the MTA to the union -- including an agreement to abide by the terms of an arbitration ruling, which it had previously sued to get overturned, and pay four-percent raises for last year and this one -- new TWU boss John Samuelsen is working a hard line in his union's salary negotiations with the MTA. He says he expects new MTA president Jay Walder will "try to balance his budget on the backs of organized labor." He's also told members, "I have news for Mr. Walder: If you move against our livelihoods, you will have a fight on your hands."
So it may be that the new TWU leadership seeks to stiffen the membership's resolve by taking a no-business-as-usual stand, and publicly distinguishing itself from the previous administration -- much as President Obama has done with the Bush Administration. Samuelsen tells amNY "we were truly surprised at the bad state of the union's finances," and his secretary treasurer says the union is going to investigate "all expenditures of the union from the last several years."
Samuelsen has personal reasons to hit back at the former leadership, too. During the contentious 2009 elections, he sued them for blocking his campaign efforts and for spreading the word that he was "mentally ill" and a bigot.
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