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TWU Wins Standoff with MTA to Honor a Fallen New York Hero

With the City still in mourning over the death of FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, a dedicated firefighter, husband and dad who coached little league baseball and basketball, TWU Local 100 P&E workers at Kingsbridge Depot lowered the depot’s huge flag to half mast Wednesday morning as at every public building in New York City.  The veteran firefighter died just blocks from the Kingsbridge Depot the day before, at the Allen Pavilion of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.  He was killed by falling debris from the now notorious house explosion in the Bronx. 

But the “brainless bureaucrats” at MTA-NYCT incredibly ordered the workers to raise the flag back up to full mast. Why? Because, they said, they didn’t get a go-ahead to do so from higher-ups.  They also threatened to suspend the workers if they didn’t comply with a “direct order.”

With the backing of TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, OA Maintenance Director Tom Lenane and Division Chair Mike Rehn, the workers refused to raise the flag back up. A tense stand-off ensued between the workers and the bosses. As word of the threatened suspension filtered out to the media and other TWU depots and TWU Locals, our brothers and sisters throughout the city and throughout the country demonstrated incredible solidarity. Local 100 members at depots across the city began lowering flags to half mast in solidarity with Kingsbridge and in defiance of the MTA threat. Then our brothers and sisters at ATU Local 726 on Staten Island joined in by lowering their flags to half mast at the Yukon and Castleton depots in respect to the fallen FDNY hero.

TWU Local 101 members employed by National Grid in Brooklyn did likewise at the company’s Greenpoint facility.  TWU Local 501 (JFK Airport) and 513 (Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas) American Airlines workers joined in.  So did TWU Local 525 members at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Despite the growing swell of opposition to the MTA’s idiotic and disrespectful position, bosses at Kingsbridge raised the flag back up to full mast IN FRONT OF ASSEMBLED NEWS MEDIA. TWU’s Lenane, under direct authority of President Samuelsen, told workers to lower it back to half mast.  Lenane and Division Chair Mike Rehn then stood guard to make sure bosses wouldn’t try to raise it again. After several hours of this stand off, the MTA finally backed down blaming the controversy on a “miscommunication” at the depot level. 

TWU’s Lenane thinks differently.  He told the press: "I’m happy that it got done, but I’m really disheartened that the transit authority would have taken this position in the beginning. I mean, why did it have to go to this length in order to honor someone?" President Samuelsen agreed.  He said: “This incident was the result of the disrespectful decisions of brainless bureaucrats at NYC Transit, but when workers stand shoulder to shoulder we win.”

Flags now rest at half mast on all MTA buildings in New York in honor a firefighter who gave his life in service to the City of New York and New York’s working families. Rest in peace, Battalion Chief Michael Fahy.

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Slideshow: TWU at the African American Day Parade 2016

TWU at African American Day Parade 2016

Union Pride on Display at Labor Day Parade

New York has the highest density of union membership in the country.  That, and a high degree of union pride, were both on display at the New York City Central Labor Council’s annual Labor Day Parade on Sept. 10, 2016. TWU’s top officers, including President John Samuelsen, Secretary Treasurer Earl Phillips, Recording Secretary LaTonya Crisp-Sauray and Administrative Vice President Angel Giboyeaux, led the union’s contingent in the march up Fifth Avenue.

TWU was the first in the line of march behind the NYCLC Executive Board and special guests, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Gov. Cuomo made a special effort to greet TWU marchers and thank them for keeping New York City moving 24-7.  The Governor also made sure that TWU members had the opportunity to grab a photo with him. Prior to the parade, the Governor held a press conference on 45th and Fifth where he delivered a stirring message of support for New York’s unionized work force. You can see his speech at this link:

A Powerful March at the African-American Day Parade

The huge African-American Day Parade in Harlem on September 18th was highlighted by TWU Local 100's float, parade of bikes from the Buffalo Soldiers MC, and our MTA NYCT Honor Guard, bringing professionalism and polish to the proceedings. TWU Local 100 Secretary-Treasurer Earl Phillips and Recording Secretary LaTonya Crisp-Sauray, along with VP's from Stations, RTO, and OA, led the rank and file in the joyous event. We were also graced by the presence of Democratic Primary Winner Marisol Alcantara, who came out to march with the TWU fresh off her victory in the 31st State Senate District We served soul food to all members as well as treating union brother and sisters from Fire, PD, EMS, and Sanitation to some great eats. Enjoy the video -- photos will be up tomorrow -- and watch for the special shout-out from Dr. Bob Lee of WBLS!

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