A Message from TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano

Off to a Good Start
By Tony Utano, President, TWU Local 100

When I think back to my first encounter with the union, I have to laugh.  I was all of 19 years old.  I got a job with the Transit Authority as a Power Maintainer Helper right out of Grady Vocational High School in Brighton Beach.

So I’m at one of my first union meetings and I’m complaining loudly about, what else, overtime. Remember, I’m on the job for about a year.

The union organizer pointed a finger at me and said loudly, “hey, you.”  Everyone in the room turned around and was staring straight at me. For lack of a better response, I said, “who me?” He responded, “yeah you, the one with the big mouth.” 

Then he said something I’ve remembered from that day.  “How about you stop complaining and get involved instead.  Maybe you can do some good around here.” 

I took those words to heart. I decide to stopped complain, and I got involved.  That was 36 years ago.

By the way, that union rep all those years ago was Tom Cassano.  He became a good friend and mentor.  He’s retired now, but we still talk and I still value his advice.

I’ve given that same advice to countless new members on the job over the years, maybe not quite as bluntly as Tom. 

It makes sense though doesn’t it.  

If all we do out there is complain about the union and how unfair everything is, we’re all going to stay stuck in the mud.  There’s always something to complain about.  But if we get involved in the union, go to union meetings, and work together in a positive fashion we can be a dynamic force for the rank-and-file that can never be stopped.

So here we are.  It’s time to turn the page to a new administration. John Samuelsen is now our International President.  John did an incredible job during his almost 7 years as President to take a union that had been ravaged by 15 years of political infighting and rebuild it into the strongest, most militant, and most respected union in New York City, New York state and beyond.  Our school bus division is possibly the strongest school bus union in New York. He has elevated Local 100’s profile across the state and across the nation as an organization that fights hard for its members, and never ever backs down.

With me here in Local 100 and with John as our International President, working together, I know that we’re going to become even stronger and more able to represent this membership.

There’s never a dull moment in Local 100.  We have lots of challenges facing us already that we know of.

But, we’re off to a good start.  We scored a good contract win for our 650 school bus members at First Mile Square in Yonkers, without a strike and without giving anything up.  The contract is all gains.

We also played an important role in the successful campaign to defeat the NYS Constitutional Convention ballot initiative on November 7th.  And we’re doing our best to assist in the recovery of Puerto Rico and other areas of the Caribbean ravaged by this season’s hurricanes.

We have some big challenges up ahead.  I believe that, together, we’ll weather any storm.