Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Toussaint Fires Dissident

Following a familiar pattern, embattled TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint fired a union official for publicly disagreeing with him about the recently voted down contract. According to Chuck Bennett of AMNY:
Richie Rivera, was ordered back to work as an air-brake mechanic at the Coney Island Overhaul Shop, after union leaders learned he was airing his beef with Toussaint to a reporter.
Rivera, who is immensely popular with the rank-and-file, had issues with the most recent contract’s proposed 1.5% contribution for health insurance and substandard benefits for members living in New Jersey. He brought these issues to Toussaint and then things took a turn for the worse:
"I'm not surprised. The minute I walked out of Roger Toussaint's office the day we had our disagreement I knew I would be finished," Rivera said.
From that point on, Rivera was isolated and then finally fired. He says of Toussaint: “He goes on the defense and squashes his opponents.”

Bennett files another story on Rivera today, reporting that the former union leader will definitely go back to the Coney Island shop position where he represents 4,000 members, despite a substantial pay cut:

"I just want to run my shop where the union can't interfere," Rivera, 40, said. "I defended my members' rights … and now I have to defend my rights against a union president out of control."
With a contact lacking and valuable union members being fired, Toussaint is certainly not portraying himself as a leader to be trusted. We believe that as the Taylor Law fines kick in and members hear more and more about Toussaint’s secretive, dictatorial style – not to mention the deal he left on the table to go on strike – they are going to ask for more than just a token change come union election time at the end of the year.