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New York fines transit union $2.5 million, jails leader

Staff Report - Industrial Worker, May 2006 

A state supreme court judge has ordered New York Transit Workers Union Local 100 to pay the state a $2.5 million fine, revoked the union's right to collect dues from workers' pay checks, and sentenced President Roger Toussaint to 10 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for refusing a court order to cancel the December mass transit strike. Subway and bus workers have also been docked several days' pay for joining the strike.

Toussaint called off the transit strike on its third day without an agreement; in January union members voted down the concessionary settlement the Metropolitan Transportation Authority offered when workers were back on the job.

TWU members are now revoting on the concessions deal, as union officials bully workers with the threat that the state might impose an even worse deal. The state has ordered binding arbitration, and the MTA has pulled the offer off the table, saying they will seek a better deal from the state arbitrator.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, seeking labor support in his gubernatorial bid, joined the MTA in seeking the fines and jail time.

Local 100 can not afford the fines, and says it will appeal; the state has suggested the local sell its headquarters. Some TWU members have suggested a work-to-rule beginning when Toussaint reports to jail.

When the transit workers shut down New York City's mass transit system, they showed their power; when the union ordered them back without a contract it showed it was afraid to fight. Now workers, and the union, are paying the price for that fear.