News from TWU Local 100

Tragic Loss in the Union Family

One of our Conductors, who was approximately 6-months pregnant, suffered a terrible loss earlier today. She went into premature labor in the East New York yard where she was assigned moving switches. The baby did not survive.

“This is a terrible and tragic loss,” Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “Our hearts go out to our union sister and her family, and we will do whatever we can to assist them at this difficult time.” A union representative responded to the hospital. Union officers have been in contact with the Conductor's family.  At the union’s request, management is granting two weeks paid maternity leave.

The Conductor filed on Wednesday a G2 requesting special accommodation instead of working the road. She was off Thursday and Friday. Today, she was assigned to the yard. The Conductor had an appointment on Monday at the MAC for management to determine whether she could continue working in some capacity.

“The MTA’s treatment of pregnant workers has been horrible and indefensible,” Utano said. “It has repeatedly refused or failed to provide suitable job assignments, which is why the union filed several lawsuits against the authority last year. We are asking the courts to order the MTA to do the right thing once and for all.”

In addition to the court action, the contract Local 100 members ratified in January includes a commitment by management to seek possible solutions to this ongoing problem through a joint labor-management committee.

Union Mourns Tower Operator Milagros Perez, 50, Taken by COVID-19

Tower Operator Milagros Perez, 50, of the Bronx, passed away from the coronavirus on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. She had 11 years of service with MTA NYCT. She began her career with the City of New York working for the School Safety Division of the NYPD. But, due to her love of trains, she joined the MTA to become a Conductor on May 12, 2008. She subsequently became a Tower Operator.

Millie was an avid collector of train memorabilia. In this photo, provided by the family, she is shown in front of a mural depicting an NYCT yard. Her main priority was her family. She was a loving daughter, sister, and aunt who loved her family unconditionally. She was a very responsible employee who took pride in her job. She will be missed by her family, friends, colleagues, and extended family at City Hall Master Tower.

Tower Vice Chair Michelle Figueroa said, "Millie, as we called her, had a good heart and a kind soul. I will always remember her kindness. All of us who knew her are better for it. We will all definitely miss Milllie."

 

Congratulations, John! Mechanic Retires After 42 Years with Liberty Lines

JUNE 24 -- John Hanrahan (in yellow) retired yesterday from Liberty Lines with 42 years on the job. A luncheon was held in his honor on the property, and the company picked up the tab. Standing with Brother Hanrahan is John Cutter, Chair of Maintenance at Liberty (on John's right), Division Chair Carlos Bernabel, and, at right of the frame, longtime Division Vice Chair Tom Monaco. John -- all of your Brothers and Sisters in transit wish you a long and healthy retirement!

FUND TRANSIT and HAZARD PAY

Tell the United States Senate to fund public transportation – and give America’s pandemic heroes hazard pay.

The House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act in May. The proposal would provide billions of dollars in operating assistance for transit agencies like the Metropolitan Transportation and hazard pay for the front-line and essential workers who remained on the job through the ongoing pandemic.

The Republican-controlled Senate, however, has been reluctant to move forward with more federal funding for these issues.

Contact Republican senators and tell them funding the MTA is good for America. A report released Wednesday by the good-government group Reinvent Albany shows that the MTA generated $8 billion and 100,000 jobs in states outside of New York between 2011 and 2018, including Republican strongholds like Texas, where the agency buys Dell computers, and West Virginia, where many of New York’s railroad ties are manufactured.

Tell the G.O.P. senators to fund mass transit. It is critical that it be safe, affordable and frequent if the economy is to rebound. Tell them to fund hazard pay and honor the service of the essential workers, including transit workers, who have kept America moving. How to contact senators:
https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact

 

Make Juneteenth a Permanent State Holiday

Following is a statement by Local 100 President Tony Utano:

Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, marks the end of slavery in the United States, one of the most important days in the history of our country.

The events of the past month, sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a criminal cop, are bringing new focus and meaning to this year’s recognition. The fight for racial justice is far from won in this country.

The police reform legislation enacted by New York, along with the executive order signed by Gov. Cuomo ordering local governments across the state to institute additional policing reforms or face loss of state funding, are important steps on the road to a more just society.

We also applaud the Governor for today issuing an executive order declaring June 19, 2020 as a holiday for State employees, which includes transit workers at the MTA.  We urge the Governor and Legislature to permanently elevate Juneteenth to a permanent official state holiday.

The nation celebrates July 4th as Independence Day from the yoke of the British Empire in 1776.  We now should celebrate Juneteenth as Independence Day for the millions of Americans whose ancestors were not free from slavery for nearly another 100 years, and who today  still must fight for full and equal treatment in American society.

TWU has a great history of fighting for equality in the workplace and in our communities, beginning with our first contract with the IRT in 1937 that brought financial dignity to black workers in the Porter title, the only job available to them at that time.  Over the next few years, the union continued to fight for, and win, equality for workers in hiring and promotional opportunities across the subways and buses. We have never stopped, and never will.
 

Thank You to Transit Workers and our Fallen Heroes

"Thank You" to transit workers and our fallen heroes. An inspiring and poignant tribute by Dispatcher Haron Wilson out of Manhattanville and stepson Tyler Griffin. Many thanks to Tracey Young, MaBSTOA 1 Recording Secretary for bringing this video to our attention.

County Exec Expresses Gratitude to Liberty Lines Workers

Westchester County Executive George Latimer paid a visit to the Liberty Lines Depot in Valhalla, NY today to deliver personal words of gratitude to Local 100 members for their work and sacrifices  during the pandemic.  He brought along, as gifts, a face covering with the company’s name embroidered on it, along with a nicely designed commemorative pin, stating “I Am Essential.”  Local 100 Private Operations Division Chair Carlos Bernabel was on hand to accept the thanks of the County’s political leaders.

Smashed windshield of the B42 Bus
Smashed windshield of the B42 Bus

Bus Attack Showers Operator with Glass

JUNE 14 -- A Bus Operator in Brooklyn was the victim of a horrendous attack early Saturday when a man hurled a concrete slab at her front windshield. Lapreecia Oquendo, a bus operator for 19 years, was attacked at 1:33 a.m. on Saturday at the wheel of the B42 in Canarsie, Brooklyn. As she was driving northbound on Rockaway Parkway, a man emerged from between two parked cars and threw a 15-pound concrete slab at the driver’s window, smashing it and sending shards of glass throughout the bus. Oquendo was showered with tiny glass particles, creating a lingering burning sensation on her legs, arms and hands.

“This is a despicable act of violence,” Local 100 President Tony Utano, said.  “This individual needs to be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Video from the bus should provide an image of this criminal and we will do whatever we can to make sure it is widely distributed to help the police make an arrest.”

Oquendo said she was driving north on Rockaway Parkway near the piers when the frightening attack happened. “He just came out of nowhere and hurled this slab of concrete at the bus,” she told Local 100. “The whole thing just exploded. I didn’t know what was going on. It was a scary situation. If his aim wasn’t off, or if he threw it one second sooner, it definitely would have hit the driver’s side of the window – and I wouldn’t be here. He was trying to kill me. Why else would you throw a slab of concrete at a bus?”

Oquendo said transit riders in that area are very upset that the bus service during the subway shutdown doesn’t mirror the closed subway lines. That assessment was echoed by the Vice Chairman of the East New York Depot, Javier Oquendo, who is the Bus Operator's husband. Her route runs from the L-train station at Rockaway Parkway to the Canarsie piers.

“This is what happens when the MTA screws up: irate riders target transit workers,” Utano said. “The bus schedules during the subway shutdown are inadequate and need to be revisited.”

RTO VP Eric Loegel
RTO VP Eric Loegel

RTO Stip a Major Breakthrough in Discipline

A stipulation signed June 4th by President Utano and RTO VP Eric Loegel with NYCT is a major reform for discipline within RTO. The stip changes disciplinary penalties for electronic device violations mirroring similar language in the Department of Buses.

VP Loegel said: "This is a significant piece of disciplinary reform for RTO. We set out to change the disciplinary culture in our department, and we’re doing just that. I’m extremely proud of this agreement, and I know it will save jobs for years to come.”

Previously, these violations started with a penalty of dismissal, and typically settled for 30 day suspensions, and final warnings. The new agreement provides the following protections:
• Instead of dismissal, demotion, or a 30 day suspension, a first offense is a 20 day suspension.
• That suspension equals five days served, with the remaining 15 for the record only.
• There is a “sunset clause” on these violations after three years.
• Electronic device violations are on a “separate track” from operational violations

The agreement is retroactive to the date of the final contract ratification, which was January 23rd, 2020. Read the Union's flyer here.

The MTA is Stiffing Thousands of our Fellow Transit Workers

They toiled through the coronavirus pandemic just like we did – and lost many co-workers to the deadly virus. 

The four Amalgamated Transit Union Locals representing MTA Bus Operators, Mechanics and Cleaners want the same wage and benefits package TWU Local 100 negotiated in December. The Authority, however, has refused to negotiate with the Locals, which have gone without a contract since May 2019.

“After all we’ve been through, after all we have done, the MTA is treating us with total disrespect,” Danny Cassella, president of ATU Local 726 in Staten Island, said in a statement Wednesday. “MTA executives call us heroes but in reality they treat us like zeroes. It’s incredibly shameful.”   Cassella led a spirited rally against the MTA’s “zeroes to heroes” position.

Local 100 President Tony Utano, one of the labor leaders invited to speak from the podium, blasted the MTA as “bums” and vowed to support the ATU in its fight.  (see video above)

Historically, the MTA negotiates a contract with its biggest union – Transport Workers Union Local 100 – and then extends the same package of wage increases and benefits to Local 726 and Queens-based ATU Locals 1056, 1179 and 1181. The ATU members do exactly the same work as Local 100 members in bus operations for the same employer.

The MTA and TWU negotiated a contract in December that grants raises of nearly 10% over four years. It was ratified overwhelmingly in January. But MTA Labor Relations told the ATU Locals it was “not in a position” to negotiate a contract at this time. They didn’t elaborate.

The Subway Surface Supervisors Association and the UTLO also are without contracts.   The ATU Locals represent about 5,000 bus operators, mechanics and cleaners working out of MTA depots in Staten Island and Queens. They have lost more than a dozen members to COVID-19. 

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