The Progressive Action rally at 2 B’way yesterday was a testament to the growing frustrations of transit workers over the Governor’s and the Union’s inability to satisfy our dignity and respect demands from all departments. The theme was Cleaner Respect but we all can agree that everyone’s quest for respect begins with recognizing the lack of respect for our Union Brothers and Sisters in entry level titles such as Cleaner.
In the last contract, the Cleaners were squeezed again along with new members, as part of a plan to wring more economic givebacks from those who are most vulnerable. This is what I’ve always referred to as “cannibalistic bargaining”. This is akin to a parent taking food from the youngest and most helpless child to satisfy the rest of the family. You wouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t do it but somewhere along the line, this sort of “bargaining” has become acceptable to our leadership.
The premise behind the rally was as genuine as it was compassionate. Yet our leadership saw to it to boycott the rally as a way to sabotage the attendance. That plan failed. The rally was thrice the size as originally foreseen. Now the avoidance of the rally, by our so called leaders, is being viewed as indifference to the plight of our lower paid fellow transit workers. It now begs the question, what did Samuelsen and the rest of the top leadership of our Union have to do that was more important than standing with the people who pay their salaries? What was more important than recognizing this dire crisis?
There is no mystery that our entry level titles have suffered the hardships of plantation justice and financial servitude with very little chance of escape. It’s no wonder that the claim of racism and sexism is being brought to the forefront, because how else could this seemingly deliberate oppression be explained? We know that institutional racism still exists in the MTA. It may not be intentional but to examine the MTA’s daily modus operandi and to take into account the massive disciplinary machine that weighs heavily on departments populated by blacks, latinos, and women, how else could it be explained? Is it any wonder the frustration? The anger?
Taking into account the Union leadership’s boycott of yesterday’s rally, one could only assume that they are complicit with the policies of the MTA. Their absence makes a statement of agreement with those who continue to suppress promotional advancement with tremendous discipline and scaled back apprenticeship opportunities, as well as financial hardship. Even to the extent of making these hardships contractual and calling them “victories”. The anger will only come further to the surface as the membership will see that they have a voice above and beyond our complicit leadership. Ironically, the Union leadership calls for a rally on November 15th with a call for all members to be present, yet at the same time boycotts a grassroots protest at equality just one month before.
I encourage all members to attend the November 15th rally outside MTA Headquarters. But not just to demand a good contract, but to hold our leadership’s feet to the fire as well. I believe the giant is awakening. It’s time we take control and drive this vehicle to where we want it to go. No justice, no peace.
LISTEN TO OUR LATEST SHOW REGARDING THE RALLY