"I think working people and people of good will look at what's going on with G.M. and the stripping of health care for tens of millions of Americans and the taking away of their hard-earned pensions of retirees as an outrage, and they want to see someone put a stop to it." - TWU Local 100 President Toussaint (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/17/nyregion/nyregionspecial3/17strike.html)
On Tuesday, December 20, 2005, the Municipal Transit Authority (MTA) forced 33,700 subway and bus workers who are members of Local 100 of the Transport Workers' Union (TWU100) out on strike. The MTA, despite having a billion dollar surplus, has been demanding concessions from the union. While those, who have created this billion dollar surplus through their hard work, are being asked to sacrifice their pensions, by the powers that be.
From reading the newspaper articles and the spin from the mass media, it is clear that the ruling class is united to cut the standard of living of all workers. The "liberals" in the Democratic Party cry that the strike is "illegal" and the TWU International Union echoed this fear mongering in the front page of their website (http://twu.org/) which has a heading: "New York Supreme Court Enjoins TWU New York State Supreme Court Justice Theodore T. Jones has issued two preliminary injunctions against the International Union and Local 100 to prevent the union from 'conducting, engaging or participating in, through any manner of any means a strike, work stoppage, sick-out, slowdown, or any other concerted activity with the intent of interrupting the normal and regular operations of the New Your City Transit Authority and the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Operating Authority.' View complete MTA Bus Company Injunction (PDF), or complete New York City Transit Authority and Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority Injunction (PDF)."
The capitalists cannot hide their glee when they see, through their mass media, that their lackey, the International president of the Transport Workers' Union of America, opposes the strike action. The New York Times article, “Millions Are Left to Make It to Work Any Way They Can”, brags: "Adding to the confusion, the president of the Transport Workers' Union of America, the parent union for the city's transit workers, told the local executive board he could not support a strike, the two members said. They said that the president, Michael T. O'Brien, said he believed that the transportation authority might change its offer, and he urged the union to re-enter the talks." The mass media also point out the severe penalties the union and the membership face due to the bipartisan anti-labor Taylor law.
As TWU Local 100 President Toussaint stated: “I think working people and people of good will look at what's going on with G.M. and the stripping of health care for tens of millions of Americans and the taking away of their hard-earned pensions of retirees as an outrage, and they want to see someone put a stop to it. The time is now!”
It is important to realize the significance of the strike by New York Transit workers in defense of their standard of living and their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are the interests of all workers This is the first union in many years to defy a court injunction, the employer, and their International Union to fight for their rights. Every worker in this nation faces this same struggle. It is very clear that this "attack on one is truly part of the attack on all." Their fight is our fight!
The truth is that if the unions, in their early days had obeyed the laws they would never have been able to organize. The ruling class wants to return to slave labor, where workers have no rights and must obey their uppers. The unions won the right to strike by organizing the solidarity of all workers despite the objection of the International Union leaders.
The time has come/is coming for the working class to once again awaken, to use its gigantic power to take a Giant Step to end the "concessions" as they did when it built the CIO in the 1930s.
The choice is very clear. The very existence of unions as defenders of workers is in question: whether it is nobler to suffer the indignities of concessions or oppose and put an end to them. The members of TWU 100 have chosen the latter! They deserve the support and respect of all in the fight for a future. Solidarity Forever!
December 20, 2005