When Roger Toussaint, President of Transit Workers Union Local 100 during the 2005 subway strike, left his duties in February to work for the international TWU, he handed them off to Curtis Tate, vice president for the Rapid Transit Operations Division.
Toussaint backed Tate for election to its presidency this year, but a dissident candidate, subway track inspector John Samuelsen (pictured), has beaten him in the local’s presidential election. Samuelsen’s been on the job 16 years and portrays himself as the son of “two working-class stiffs from Brooklyn.” The votes were received by June 20, but the result was left unrevealed until Monday.
A Take Back Our Union movement, claiming the leadership had weakened the local, specifically by going to arbitration on wages and suppressing dissent, stood against Tate as more of the same. Sympathizers charged that the Toussaint regime had “eroded” the union’s networks and turned the union into a personal fiefdom.
The campaign was described as bitter, with Samuelsen suing Tate, Toussaint and others for using the union bureaucracy to unfairly impede his robo-calling and email campaign efforts. Samuelsen also sued Tate and others for defamation for claiming he was “mentally ill,” and that he had “engaged in unlawful brutality against Black and Hispanic inmates” while working as a Corrections Officer and was forced to resign for that reason.
Samuelsen, who unsuccessfully ran for secretary treasurer of the local in 2006 (again on a dissident ticket), will have the support of other TBOU candidates who won top posts in this election. He takes office on January 1. The union has about 38,000 members.