Thursday, March 16, 2006

Toussaint or Sinner?

It is always fascinating to watch someone trying to wiggle out of a tough situation of their own making. Even more so when the individual in question is so disagreeable to begin with. This is precisely the case with the attempt by TWU president Roger Toussaint to extricate himself from the labor pact snafu he himself created.

Now, as the NY Post is reporting this morning, Roger has come out of the closet on the "grassroots" petition effort to re-vote the contract that was voted down two months ago. The union leadership believes that the arbitration it faces will end up forcing Local 100 to accept a worse deal than the one that was rejected by the rank-and-file by a scant 7 votes.

The MTA, however, isn't being so accomodating. As Board Chairman Peter Kalikow told the Post, "Put simply, this dispute should be sent to arbitration. Period." Not everyone is as apparently obdurate as Kalikow. In an editorial in today's NY Times, the paper endorses the re-vote saying, "Settling this contract now would serve not just the workers, but the MTA and the riding public."

Fair enough. But the Times goes on to observe that many of those union members who voted to reject the pact, "were expressing their displeasure with management, not necessarily their position on the merits of the contract."

This misreads the TWU situation completely. The contract that was voted down by the members was negotiated by the Toussaint team and the rejection reflected a lack of confidence in their own leadership, one that lead them out on strike only to settle for a deal that wasn't worth the sacrifice it entailed.

As Toussaint opponent Ainsely Stewart tells the Post today, "Toussaint had a golden opportunity at the beginning of these negotiations...The MTA had a billion-plus surplus. And instead he boxed us in to this deal. And now he has no way out."