Revolutionary Transit Worker No. 35

Supported by the League for the Revolutionary Party

March 24, 2006

Ten Reasons to Vote No!

  1. We struck to defend ourselves and the whole working class, present and future. But this contract opens all of us to hikes in healthcare costs -- and worse. Toussaint’s contract deal sets a terrible precedent for transit workers and all of labor.
  2. The 1.5 percent healthcare paycheck deduction, set to rise automatically, is a terrible giveback. It sets a precedent for further health care expenses for us and all workers.
  3. Less-than-inflation wage “raises,” and no amnesty from Taylor Law fines, added to the health care premiums, mean a real wage cut.
  4. The one-time pension refund is nothing better than a bribe. It’s meant to divide and conquer, luring some members to vote “yes”, even though the overall contract is bad for all of us. The pension refund can be won through a struggle that doesn’t mean a trade off or other harmful givebacks.
  5. Better healthcare for retirees, maternity leave, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and other “gains” are overshadowed by the givebacks that cost us much more.
  6. The contract gives up our December expiration date. This robs us of the threat to shut the city down during peak holiday shopping and cost the bosses billions.
  7. The MTA did not “withdraw” the pension issue; the politicians may later introduce their pension attacks on future hirees through legislation. Pensions are not “saved.”
  8. The MTA has a billion dollar surplus. If we agree to sacrifice for them now, imagine how bad their attacks will be in the future!
  9. A “yes” vote means caving in to both the MTA and Toussaint’s months long campaign of demoralization. It sets the dangerous precedent that votes in our union don’t have to be respected but can be cast aside anytime they don’t like the results.
  10. We could have stopped concessions and won much more if we had stayed on strike -- and we still can!

Toussaint’s puppet majority on the Local 100 Executive Board passed his demand for a contract re-vote. Twelve EB members voted “Nay,” over twice as many as usual. Two abstained. Toussaint tried every dirty trick in the book, but this contract deal and this idea of forcing a re-vote are extremely unpopular.

Toussaint hopes that his long demoralization campaign and the threat of an even worse deal from the MTA will push up the “yes” votes. Fear-mongering about arbitration is mainly designed to pressure workers to vote for a bad contract. Despite PERB's decision, arbitration is still way off .

But this deal doesn't smell any better than before. In fact it's worse: forcing a revote is a shameful display of begging and weakness on the part of the most powerful union in New York!

Make no mistake: voting “yes’’ means submission to the MTA. Rather than preventing a worse deal, it actually encourages MTA to attack harder. Rather than preventing future attacks by taking a stand against concessions, this contract opens the door to future attacks.

Toussaint wants us to forget that our union has tremendous power when and if it unites and actually fights. He disrespects our expressed will and he tramples on our rights. How many workers suffered through the overwhelming, expensive and dishonest union campaign for this contract, orchestrated by Toussaint’s stooges?

The only way to repair the damage that Toussaint has done in this union in the past months is to fight for a contract that satisfies the needs of both the “yes” and the “no” voters, not by endorsing a process that stands democracy on its head!

Toussaint knows he is on his way out and his fear of the rank and file is extreme. Toussaint knows that when the rank and file is united we feel powerful. Both “yes” and “no” voters mistrust Toussaint and want him out. And the ranks do have the power to stop Toussaint in his tracks. That is why he has ruthlessly trampled on elementary democratic norms at every step. That is why he has refused to stop secret negotiations by having the whole Negotiating Committee at all negotiations and by electing a rank and file oversight committee to sit in on negotiations. This is the first step toward replacing Toussaint’s team with a newly elected negotiating committee that reports to us and carries out all our demands.

Toussaint is the mouse that roars. His fear of the ranks is behind his refusal to call a mass membership meeting to discuss the contract and decide on a path forward The New York Times reports that Toussaint “said that if a new vote is held, he would ‘get around as much as I humanly could’ and ‘provide in-person presentations’ at subway yards, bus barns, and other locations.’ ” (NYT 3/20/06) Toussaint is afraid to face us all at once; he’s even afraid to debate the contract with other elected officials who voted “no.”

A “no” vote is essential, but it’s not enough. The demand for a mass meeting is more critical than ever. Everyone who sees the need to stand up to both the MTA and Toussaint must fight for it. The demand for open negotiations and for a rank and file oversight committee is also essential. We particularly challenge union officials who oppose the contract deal to fight for the mass meeting and an elected oversight committee, for starters. They should call meetings in their own Divisions and joint meetings of several Divisions to build momentum for the central demands like the local-wide meeting.

Not only Toussaint, but MTA reps like Kalikow and all the capitalist politicians lie and manipulate as a way of life. The MTA may use the weak state of the union to push more concessions than Toussaint already gave them. Or they may have decided to give us something close to what Toussaint wants, for the moment, if he delivers the “yes” vote, in order to prepare more attacks for the not-so-distant future.

One thing is clear: a fight for real gains is a fight against this contract. That will begin to put this union right side up and will re-invigorate us as a workforce. It will put muscle behind the fight for a mass meeting and a new mode of negotiation. Only if the union gets back into strike-preparation mode can transit workers once again advance -- for ourselves and for the whole working class.

Vote No Again, or Vote No for the first time: but Vote No!

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