Wednesday, March 01, 2006

TWU: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

First reported by the Daily News, certain members of the TWU are pushing the union to revote the contract rejected in January. According to the NY Times, thousands of workers have signed a petition urging Local president Toussaint to call for a new vote before negotiations go to binding arbitration. They understand that no matter how flawed the voted down contract was it will certainly be better than whatever arbitration yields:

MTA board member Barry Feinstein sums up this reality:

"Sure, I think it would be good," Mr. Feinstein said. For union members, "I don't believe it's possible to get a better deal," he said. "It's all down from here."
This unfortunate choice between bad and worse is, in part, a result of Toussaint’s leadership failure. By engaging in a fruitless strike, the TWU Local 100 president put the union into a much weaker position, as is seen by the choice between a substandard contract and arbitration. And, as we have been told, there was a better offer on the table in December just prior to the strike call but Toussaint was more interested in walking out.

As we’ve said in the past, the MTA deserves its fair share of the blame as well. Attorney General Spitzer made this point yesterday, mentioning out how the Authority lacks transparency, keeps two sets of books, and raises fares as it garners a record surplus. We agree with Spitzer that the MTA and these other semi-public organizations need better oversight and that it’s unfair for the union, no matter how leadership-challenged, to bear the brunt of the criticism for the current impasse.