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TWU Bringing Blue Collar Jobs Back

BY PETE DONOHUE

JULY 27 -- Manufacturing in New York state and the rest of the country will get a potential $3.2 billion shot in the arm, thanks to the Transport Workers Union of America and a national campaign to bring blue-collar jobs back to our cities and towns. After more than a year of advocacy by TWU leadership, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Gov. Cuomo’s office agreed to offer railcar producers additional incentives to increase manufacturing in the United States, instead of shipping the work overseas. Bids for an estimated $3.2 billion contract to build 1,025 MTA subway cars will be rated in part on the strength of their “U.S. Employment Plan,” transit officials said Monday. The MTA is instructing potential bidders to include in their Employment Plans such information as the number of domestic jobs they would create, where they would create them and what wages they’d pay employees.

"This is a huge win for workers in New York and across the United States," TWU of America Executive Vice President John Samuelsen said. "Taxpayer dollars that are used to buy equipment like subway cars should create good quality manufacturing jobs here, not overseas.  We in TWU urge transit agencies across the country to adopt a similar pledge to use the power of local tax dollars to create good middle class jobs in their own regions.”

This is pretty wonky stuff – not the standard fare for most mainstream media outlets, which often are more focused on scandals, shocking violence and celebrity items. But Samuelsen and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. secured a good bit of prime real estate in The New York Daily News on July 14 with a convincing Op-Ed piece that urged the MTA to put strong job-related language in the railcar RFP. Jobs To Move America, a coalition that includes labor, environmental and civil rights groups, provided the MTA with a blueprint and legal framework for crafting a U.S. Employment, along with data from academics. Good stuff that could put a lot of men and women to work and help reinvigorate our neighborhoods.

Assault Sentence Lauded by Transit Union

A transit worker finally got justice.

A knife-wielding lunatic slashed Bus Operator John Browne on the neck in Brownsville, Brooklyn, nearly two years ago.

Last month, Browne watched a Brooklyn Supreme Court justice sentence his attacker, Alfredo Perez, to four years in state prison. “Today is a victory for me and for all Bus Operators,” Browne said. “Mr. Perez assaulted me and today he paid the consequences. I’m pleased in my heart, and I would like to see more of these kinds of actions by the justice system.”

Browne was concerned – and rightly so – that Justice Michael Gary might simply sentence Perez, 31, to probation, counseling and community service, or to a month or so in a local jail. Judges and prosecutors rarely if ever throw the book at criminals who abuse and assault Bus Operators, Train Conductors and other vulnerable transit workers. But Gary said Perez’s actions were far too serious to warrant a slap on the wrist. He also cited a pre-sentencing evaluation that concluded there was a “moderate to high risk” Perez would commit violence again if freed.

Browne was waiting outside a bodega for an MTA tow truck to come for his disabled bus when Perez, a walking time bomb, erupted. Perez apparently thought Browne, a soft-spoken married father of six kids, was looking inappropriately at his girlfriend.  So, spewing curses, Perez charged Browne and slashed him with his knife, causing an approximately six-inch gash. Browne is permanently disfigured with a raised, puffy and painful-looking scar. It starts behind his left ear and extends down onto his neck. “He could have killed me,” Browne said after the sentencing. “My kids could be growing up without a father. My wife could be left without a husband.”

Before leaving the courthouse, Browne told said he wanted his case to serve both as a warning and an example. “If you assault a Bus Operator you are going to get caught,” Browne said. “You are going to be arrested and sentenced to prison.”

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen struck a similar note in an interview with The Chief-Leader newspaper. “Hopefully, we’ve turned a corner on the problem now, and hopefully that becomes the norm rather than the exception,” Samuelsen said. “Until judges and others start looking at assaults on transit workers as a heinous event against society we’ll see subpar sentences.

Free “One World” Tix for Members Who Served at 9/11

The 9/11 Tribute Center, which honors the memory of those who died at Ground Zero and who participated in the rescue and recovery effort, is making available free tickets to the One World Observatory atop Freedom Tower to TWU Local 100 members who were part of the 9/11 response. The offer came as a result of the cooperation between Local 100 and the Tribute Center to recognize the contributions of transit workers to the rescue and recovery effort, which will culminate in a major memorial this September 7th on the 15 year mark. In order to obtain the tickets, Local 100 members must first register with the Tribute Center at http://tributewtc.org/observatory. Every member who registers as a 9/11 responder at this link can claim two tickets to the Observatory with one week’s advance notice.

Op Ed: Samuelsen and Bronx BP Diaz On How the MTA Can Create Good Jobs

JULY 14 -- In an opinion piece in today's Daily News, TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen joins with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., to explain how the MTA should take the initiative in creating community-based local jobs for New Yorkers, financed by the new capital construction plan. They point out that since 1990, New York State has lost more than half its manufacturing jobs, and that the MTA Capital Plan is a way to get back on track. A plan put forward by Jobs to Move America, which Local 100 endorses, gives points to MTA bidders for training and hiring minority workers who live in our communities. Read the op-ed piece here.

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