London’s Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (the RMT) – our brothers in arms across the pond – found inspiration in our recent graphic campaign to slow trains and prevent subway fatalities. We sent them our graphics files and they went to work, repurposing our graphic image of a chalk outline on the roadbed and making it the centerpiece of their campaign to bring back laid off workers who ensure safety on the Bakerloo line. The line’s management cut staffing, forcing train operators to drive out of service trains into stations or “sidings” in yards without checking for passengers who didn’t get off in time. The RMT points to the case of a 12-year old boy who found himself alone in a yard walking the tracks. Now the public is getting the message that this unsafe practice should end and that they should let London Underground management know they need to bring back the laid-off staff. See the RMT’s flyer here.
Case 6 on the calendar for NYS Supreme Court Part 32 was called at 11:45, and the young defendant, Domonic Whilby, 22, was brought into court before a divided audience: transit workers and family of slain Bus Operator William Pena on the one side, Whilby’s relatives on the other. News cameras rolled as an Assistant District Attorney Randolph Clarke, Jr. detailed the commission of the crime: How Whilby, drunk, stole an 18,000 pound truck from the loading bay of the Dream Hotel at 5:22 in the morning, barreled down 16th street, ran a red light, struck a light vehicle, ran another red light, struck a coffee vendor’s stand, then hit an M-14 Bus that was proceeding on a green light down 14th Street causing the death of the driver.
At a celebration for International Women's Day, our own Recording Secretary spoke out not only for the women on the job who the public sees every day, but for the women who are behind the scenes in the transit system. She represented women in transit at the March 7th event at CUNY's Murphy Insitute along with other prominent women in the NYC labor movement. Also attending were Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. Other women from labor included DC 37's Barbara Edmonds and Yolanda Pumarejo, the UFT's Evelyn de Jesus, Helen Schaub of 1199, and Elly Spicer of the NYC District Council of Carpenters.
On February 26, UPS fired a driver and longtime union activist at its Maspeth depot without the fair hearing he was contractually entitled to. In response, 250 drivers, members of Teamster Local 804, walked out in solidarity with their Brother and to defend their rights.
In retaliation, UPS has now notified all 250 drivers who participated in the protest that they are on notice of termination. UPS is threatening the jobs of its employees in order to defend management’s unilateral breach of the contract and stifle protest.
TWU Local 100 condemns this attack on the rights of hard-working men and women.
Join Teamster 804 members citywide, the Working Families Party, Public Advocate Tish James and TWU Local 100 in demanding justice at Maspeth. Sign the petition here to add your voice.
MARCH 6 -- A hundred angry school bus drivers, matrons and mechanics rallied in bitter cold outside the Mile Square school bus company's main depot on Nepperhan Avenue in Yonkers to urge owner Harry Rodriguez to bring hourly pay up to other comparable companies and improve safety conditions at his facilities. The crowd of workers told the news media that a contract with decent raises is long overdue at Mile Square. TWU Local 100 Administrative Vice President Angel Giboyeaux, who has been negotiating with Mr. Rodriguez, said that workers haven't seen a raise for years. Local 100 Secretary-Treasurer Earl Phillips, former Director of Local 100's Safety Department, said that sanitary facilities were grossly inadequate. Just last week, union reps placed a dozen buses out of service for mechanical or other safety defects.
A February 21 press conference at the Union Hall afforded Long Island Railroad unions the opportunity to speak out about how the MTA is provoking a strike at the railroad that could have dire consequences for New York City and the entire tri-state region. These videos give an overview of the situation and detailed answers, which are often missing from the clips on the evening news. This is what union solidarity is all about – TWU joining with our brothers and sisters on the LIRR and providing the workers’ assessment of what the MTA is doing and what needs to be done.
Guests packed the third floor of Local 100’s new union hall at 195 Montague Street in Brooklyn for TWU’s 2014 Black History Celebration on Saturday Feb. 22, 2014.
For the first time, the union’s Black History event was co-sponsored by the New York Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) alongside TWU Local 100. Special guests included Bill Lucy, the founder and first President of the national CBTU, and John Bland, TWU’s International Administrative Vice President and a stalwart of the civil rights movement in Houston, TX. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, New York City Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James and City Council member Robert Cornegy also attended.
Local 100 President John Samuelsen, Secretary Treasurer Earl Phillips, Recording Secretary Latonya Crisp Sauray, Administrative Vice President Angel Giboyeaux and Vice Presidents Maurice Jenkins and Tony Utano attended, as did TWU International President Harry Lombardo and International Vice President and Transit Division Director Jerome Lafragola. Current CBTU national President Terry Melvin, who is also Secretary Treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO, was on hand as well.
Newly elected CBTU/New York Chapter President Charles Jenkins, an elected Local 100 officer from MOW/LES and a member of the Local 100 staff, served as emcee. Co-hosts were TWU Local 100 VP for Stations Maurice Jenkins and TWU Local 100 Senior Director of Operations Curtis Tate.
Jackie Roe-Adams, a Local DC 37 President, began the program with a beautiful rendition of the Negro National Anthem.
Bill Lucy, the retired Executive Vice President of national AFSCME, spoke about the founding of CBTU in 1972 as a means to insure that the concerns of black workers were being heard at the highest levels of the labor movement. Lucy said that his frustration over the AFL-CIO’s decision to remain neutral in the 1972 presidential election prompted his decision to form the organization. Over the past four decades, CBTU has served as a springboard for advancement of black labor leaders in the movement.
Texas native John Bland spoke about his involvement in helping to found the Martin Luther King-inspired Progressive Youth Association during his days as a student at Texas Southern University. That movement effectively battled Jim Crow through peaceful demonstrations in the early 1960’s. John’s activism played a key role in facilitating the racial integration of lunch counters, movie theaters and other community establishments in Houston.
FEBRUARY 25 -- WBLS on-air personality Dr. Bob Lee honored our very own retired Station Agent Deloris Frazier, who has 31 years of service as a Station Agent as well as being a prominent member of the TWU Local 100 Retirees' Association. Sister Frazier had breakfast with Bob Lee along with Local 100 brothers and sisters at the Union Hall on Montague Street, and was joined by Local 100 Political Director Marvin Holland, Public Advocate Tish James, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, and Councilman Robert Cornegy. Bob Lee called Deloris "an ordinary person doing extraordinary things." We agree! Listen to the audio clip above.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is on the cutting edge of delaying, wasting time and provoking a strike. In response to a Congressional letter to the MTA telling the Authority to accept the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) for LIRR workers – which amounts to raises of 2.5% per year over six years – the MTA did the only thing it could do to avert a threatened March strike: it took its last remaining option to call for another PEB to study the situation.
In response, TWU Local 100 and LIRR unions gathered for a summit at the Local 100 union hall in Brooklyn Heights, so that we could – in unity – brief legislators and the press on next steps. With Local 100 President John Samuelsen hosting the press event, LIRR SMART President Anthony Simon thanked Congressional leaders for “standing up to protect this system and avert a strike.” He took the MTA to task for pitting the public against workers. “They have the ability to pay without raising fares, and we don’t want to go on strike,” he said.
Joel Parker, National Vice President of the Transportation Communications Union, which also represents LIRR workers, explained the findings of the Presidential Emergency Board, which is a respected panel of arbitrators who have a record of impartiality in labor disputes. In its recommendation, released two months ago, the PEB did not give labor everything it wanted, but also spurned MTA demands to re-examine work rules. It recommended high health care contributions which take away half a percentage point from worker raises. Yet the MTA is determined not to say yes to the package, even though historically second PEB panels have not departed from the recommendations of the first.
On the first winter day that felt like spring, uniformed transit workers and police officers gathered to say goodbye with formal ceremony to Bus Operator William Peña. His large family, most prominently widow Nancy and daughter Gabriela, marched up the stairs to the entrance of St. Paul the Apostle Church near Lincoln Center in Manhattan, following Brother Peña’s casket which was carried by NYPD pallbearers, piped in by the NYCT Pipers, and honored by the NYCT Color Guard.
Eight NYCT buses brought mourners, union sisters and brothers, who stood in formation as the coffin made its way to the church and up the steps. TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen spoke at the church pulpit after a bilingual Mass was celebrated, along with NYCT President Carmen Bianco and members of the Peña family, including his brother, Alex, who told of William’s great generosity to a bus passenger. Regulars on Peña’s M14 bus, like Millie Ortiz, were in the audience.
Peña’s sister, Police Officer Denise Bueno, spoke movingly about getting the heartbreaking call on the morning of February 12th. An MTA Chaplain spoke of feeling “a type of love I hadn’t experienced in the 35 years I’ve been with the MTA” at the Quill Depot as members there remembered their fallen Brother. Samuelsen paid tribute to Peña’s memory by assuring his family that they will never be forgotten and that TWU Local 100 will do everything possible to ease their path forward.
FEBRUARY 19 -- Newly-elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came to the wake for slain Bus Operator William Pena at the United Nations Chapel on First Avenue and 44th Street this evening. He arrived at about 6:30 with his security detail and quickly entered the chapel, taking no questions from the press. Once inside, he joined a room packed full of mourners, both family and transit workers. He joined the line in front of the casket and spoke in low tones to Brother Pena's widow, Nancy, and to his daughter, Gabriela, and then stood in silence for a time before the open coffin where Pena rested. It was the first time in memory that a sitting Mayor has visited a transit worker's wake. TWU Local 100 President Samuelsen and other top officers spent hours at the wake, speaking to many of the approximately 700 TWU and ATU members who came, most brought in by buses detailed from depots. Also in attendance was ATU Local 726 President Danny Cassella, bringing fraternal greetings from our brothers and sisters on Staten Island. A number of uniformed police also attended, along with William Pena's sister, who is a police officer.
Domonic Whilby, 23, who was drunkenly driving a stolen truck that crashed into Bus Operator William Pena's crosstown M14 bus, avoided a court hearing Tuesday that would have brought him into contact with the grieving Pena family and TWU Local 100 members wanting to see justice done in the case. Instead, Whilby's attorney managed to have the case remanded to State Supreme Court, where he will enter pleas on March 12th, in Part 32. Bus drivers, who donned black arm bands, waited in the courtroom until the end of the day, when the change of venue was granted by the presiding judge. The case has taken on wider interest in the media because Whilby is the nephew of actor/model Tyson Beckford, who was partying with Whilby before the events that led to Pena's death. TWU Local 100 encourages all members to be present to hear Mr. Whilby's plea to the charges preferred against him. The counts include vehicular manslaughter, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and felony assault. More will be added because Mr. Whilby was driving with a blood alcohol level that is twice the legal limit.
At the request of Mrs. Nancy Rodriguez-Peña, TWU Local 100 MABSTOA Division 1 Chairman Richard Davis is organizing donations and vigils for fallen Bus Operator William Pena. The family has not yet announced the arrangements for his memorial services. Local 100 is asking that any who wish to participate and organize remembrances contact Brother Davis at (646) 323-5553 Cell or (212) 712-5001 Office. You can also email him at email@example.com.
Eriberto Pena, William's brother, has established a fund in Brother Pena's honor for his daughter, Gabriela, 17, who is currently a senior in High School.
TWU Local 100 members have been joined in mourning with members of the riding public – our customers – and union members in transit all over the world. The internet was filled with grief in the ways people express it now – tweets on Twitter, and comments on Facebook and news sites. One regular customer on William Pena’s M14 bus identifying herself as “Lady Di” on DNA Info spoke for many when she wrote:
“This really affected me as I take this bus so many times during the week - and I do remember Mr. Pena - friendly, helpful - everything you'd want, but don't often get, from a driver. I hope it helps his family to know that his riders (at least this one) took notice of his kindness and appreciated it so very much. please, let’s not let the truck driver get off with a typically light sentence. This was an out and out homicide or at the very least involuntary manslaughter.”
ATU Canada’s Mike Mahar sent thoughts and prayers “with a heavy heart” and said, “once again, we are reminded of the vulnerability and risk our members experience every day when they put on a uniform and go to work.” Transport for London RMT driver Pakie Baker said: “My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Pena and bereaved family and friends. May he Rest in Peace.” The New York State AFL-CIO tweeted thoughts and prayers, and TWU Local 556 expressed sadness “over the loss of a brother.” Local Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Brooklyn/Staten Island) tweeted: “Heartbreaking. Please keep his family and @twulocal100 colleagues in your prayers.”