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TWU Local100 Endorses Marisol Alcantara for State Senate in the 31st District

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen threw the support of the 42,000-strong union behind state Senate candidate Marisol Alcantara on Tuesday. Joined by dozens of transit workers at Local 100’s headquarters in downtown Brooklyn, Samuelsen announced Local 100’s endorsement of Alcantara for the 31st District seat being vacated by Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx). The diverse district stretches from Manhattan’s Upper West Side through Washington Heights and includes Riverdale, Marble Hill and Hamilton Heights.


 “We’re here to say that Marisol Alcantara is the trade unionist in this race,” Samuelsen said. “She is trade union to the core. We welcome another ally in Albany.” Alcantara, an organizer for the New York State Nurses Association, told the gathered transit workers that she will fight for legislation blocking the city from arresting Bus Operators after accidents under a misguided Vision Zero law signed by Mayor de Blasio. She also will fight for pension parity so that newly hired transit workers enjoy the same benefits as more veteran workers.
 

Alcantara said good union transit jobs are a critical path to the middle class. “My mother is a transit worker,” she said. “My mother was able to get a pension, paid vacation and sick days. For an immigrant family, for a woman of color, getting a union job is like hitting the lottery.”

Espaillat recently won the Democratic primary in the 13th Congressional District race. “This is a lady who stands on her own two feet,” he said at the Union Hall. “I listen to her and I know that we will not always agree, because she is her own person, as she should be – because leadership is about that. Nobody understands transit better than Marisol Alcantara because her family comes from transit workers.”

State Sen. Parker, Senate Co-Sponsor, with rank and file members
State Sen. Parker, Senate Co-Sponsor, with rank and file members

Cuomo Signs Cleaner Assault Bill in Victory for TWU Local 100

ALBANY, August 19 – NY Governor Andrew Cuomo today signed into law a bill that fulfills a key objective of Local 100 – increasing penalties for any assault on a MTA/NYCT Station or Terminal Cleaner.

“Subway cleaners have been the victims of unprovoked, unwarranted and unacceptable attacks while working among the 6 million daily riders,” said President John Samuelsen. “This bill, which we fought long and hard for, gives them protection. The tougher penalties should deter anyone from harming a subway cleaner. If they don’t, police, prosecutors and judges should seek the maximum sentence.”

The Governor said: "These workers perform tasks that are vital to the operation of New York institutions and have increasingly become the targets of aggression and assaults. Signing these measures into law will help better protect these employees from harm and I thank the sponsors for their work to get them passed.”

TWU mounted a sustained political effort highlighted by a dedicated lobby day on May 24 in which rank and file Cleaners got on the bus to personally make their case to legislators. Several assaults on transit cleaners have highlighted the dangers facing them on a daily basis – especially women who work alone on platforms late at night. Many who attended used their own personal time.  Multiple titles from Stations were represented, including RRSW’s, S/A’s and of course CTA’s. The trip and overall lobbying effort was organized by TWU’s Political Action Director, Marvin Holland, and his able staff.

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Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson, (at left) who spearheaded the legislation in the Assembly, said, “I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in protecting the rights of our hardworking brothers and sisters in New York State. No employee should have to work facing the threat of assault and this legislation will help ensure a hardworking and dedicated part of our workforce is properly protected under the law. I am proud to stand with the Governor on this issue and thank him for signing this important piece of legislation.”

Senator Kevin Parker said, “I enthusiastically applaud Governor Cuomo for signing my legislation, Senate Bill S. 8104-A, into law as the passage of this bill increases the penalty for assaulting our MTA station and terminal workers to a class D felony. Although laws were enacted in 2002 to protect and deter assaults on transit employees while performing their duties, the law did not include station and terminal workers. Today, thanks to Governor Cuomo and my colleagues in the State Legislature, station and terminal workers will be added to the list of covered MTA employees. I am extremely proud to be a part of this milestone achievement and I stand eager to continue working with the Governor and Legislature to pass laws that improve the quality of life of New York State residents.”

CTA Darren Johnson, with Stations VP Derrick Echevarria and Rep Paul Flores, who responded to the scene
CTA Darren Johnson, with Stations VP Derrick Echevarria and Rep Paul Flores, who responded to the scene

CTA's Heroic Day

by PETE DONOHUE

August 18, MANHATTAN -- CTA Darren Johnson took out the trash – after chasing it down.

Johnson chased a subway groper up four flights of stairs and escalators at a very deep subway station in Manhattan and held the molester for the police. The man took off after Johnson confronted him for assaulting a 25-year-old woman while she waited with a young child for an elevator on the northbound platform of the 63rd St./Lexington Ave. station Wednesday morning.

“I didn’t want him to get away because maybe he would do it again to someone else,” Johnson said. “I have a 17-year-old daughter. When you hear about something like this you think that it could have been your daughter or mother or someone that you know.”

Police charged the suspect, Leonardo San Juan Godinez, 20, of Queens, with forcible touching and sex abuse, and led him from the 63rd St./Lexington Ave. station in handcuffs, authorities said. Johnson was in uniform on the platform when the visibly-upset woman pleaded for help. “That guy just fondled me,” she said. “He just groped me.” Johnson called out to Godinez to stop walking when Godinez bolted. Johnson pursued him up 106 steps before catching him near the turnstiles in front of the token booth. “He reached into his pocket like he was going to grab something and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to get stabbed here,’ “Johnson said. “I grabbed both his arms and held him.”

The station agent alerted the RCC and the police.  Johnson didn’t have much time to catch his breath. Minutes after the police and suspect left, Johnson was in the booth getting a NYC Transit form to file his report when someone ran to the booth and said there was fire up by the street entrance. Johnson grabbed the fire extinguisher and extinguished the blaze, crediting his training from the union and NYCT with knowing how to handle the situation calmly.

“This was the craziest day of my life,” he said. Dan Rivoli, transit reporter for the New York Daily News, predicted Johnson would be nominated for a Hometown Heroes in Transit Award, which honors exemplary bus and subway workers. “I don’t feel like a hero,” he humbly said. “I feel like anyone should try and help in a situation like this.”

Station Agent Percillia Agustine-Soverall
Station Agent Percillia Agustine-Soverall

Career Criminal Arrested in Arson Attack on Station Agent

A career criminal with five felony convictions was arrested on Tuesday and charged with lighting up a gasoline-soaked rag and shoving it into the money slot of a station booth to force the NYCT Station Agent to give up cash. The late-night attack last Friday at the Nostrand Avenue station on the #3 line in Crown Heights left Station Agent Percillia Agustine-Soverall "crying and in shock" when the halon system in the booth came on to douse the fire, filling the booth with a white cloud of fire retardant.

Daily News reporter Dan Rivoli reported the story and you can read it here.

President Samuelsen told Rivoli: "This was a cowardly, evil act against a transit worker who was simply doing her job. New York is able to work because we run the subways and buses every day. But our members face countless dangers, including arson attacks, while providing this vital public service."

Everett Robinson, 51, who has been charged with the crime, was arraigned today in Brooklyn Criminal Court. He has an extensive rap sheet including a five-year stint in jail for robbery. TWU Local 100 is demanding that Robinson pay the maximum possible penalty for this horrific crime against a transit worker.  We will be holding a rally outside the courthouse to coincide with the next important court date for this case, and will need your support.  Stay tuned for our updates.

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