Revolutionary Transit Worker

Supported by the League for the Revolutionary Party

May 11, 2008

Vote for Eric Josephson
for Track Division Vice-Chair!

by Eric Josephson

Track Division’s election for Vice-Chair comes at an important time. Track workers in particular are still fighting for safer working conditions and the whole Local is facing a contract struggle. Yet Local 100 is saddled with leaders who brag about their “partnership” with management, especially on safety. I’m running to be Vice-Chair of Track Division so that track workers can send a clear message to the bosses as well as to our own union leaders that we are getting ready to fight back against the bosses’ attacks.

Stop the Bosses’ Flagging Plan!

Management is apparently trying to force RTO Construction Flagging to flag for Maintenance of Way. This increases RTO flaggers’ work-loads, threatens Track and other MoW flagging jobs and puts RTO flaggers and us in danger due to our different flagging rules. This seems like an attempt to set RTO and MoW against each other, to the bosses’ advantage. If elected Vice-Chair of the Division, I’ll fight to mobilize transit workers to stop this plan. We need a mass meeting to decide and set our own safety rules – in Track and other Divisions!

But the fight against the bosses’ flagging plan and for safer working conditions is just one example of how workers have to fight the bosses every step of the way. While Toussaint & Co. preach “partnership” with the bosses and lobby politicians who only stab us in the back, a vote for me is a vote to mobilize workers’ power in struggle for our interests against the bosses and the pro-boss union hacks who partner with them.

No Contract Sellout!

As contract negotiations approach, the MTA is demanding concessions, supposedly because of the worsening economy. Since they sold out our last contract struggle and agreed to outrageous givebacks to the bosses, there’s every reason to expect that Toussaint & Co. will try to stick us with worse this time around.

Our 2005 strike and its aftermath have represented a test of leadership that should guide track workers in their vote.

Under pressure from the ranks, President Toussaint took us out on strike for two and a half days. But he quickly killed our strike and agreed to a rotten contract. Many drew the lesson that striking is a losing proposition. But we didn’t lose a test of strength – it was Toussaint & Co. who failed. We could have stayed out, spread our struggle, beginning with Long Island Railroad and MetroNorth workers, and forced the bosses to their knees. Instead, Toussaint was scared to upset the bosses’ and politicians’ order, so he sold us out.

During the strike, I worked to build our picket lines. With others I wrote for and distributed RTW which brought the latest news on the strike and a strategy to win to thousands of Local 100 members who had been abandoned by their leaders. After killed our strike, I played a leading role in the campaign to vote down the contract and return to struggle. I am proud of that record – it shows I can be trusted to fight for a winning contract this time around and to expose any attempts to sell us out.

If I’m elected Track Division Vice-Chair I’ll take forward the fight for these key points:

1. For a Fighting Track Division! Shut Down Unsafe Jobs!!

As Vice-Chair of Track Division I’ll fight against “partnership” with the MTA Bosses in Safety or anything else! The bosses’ drive for production means a drive against safety. The union must mobilize to enforce safety against the bosses. I’ll fight to make safety a priority, send officers, stewards and activists into the field to stop unsafe work. I’ll fight to train and mobilize trackworkers to band together against unsafe work, using the contractual Safety Dispute Resolution process as a mobilization tool, not an afterthought. I’ll work to maintain and strengthen MoW flagging for MoW work (e.g., track gang flagger(s) to flag for his/her/their gang(s), 3rd rail flaggers for their gangs, etc. There should be no major flagging or other safety changes without full  discussion by and vote of workers concerned!

2. For Union Democracy!

Since he killed our strike, Toussaint has ruled the Local by more dictatorial means than ever. He ignored our vote to reject his contract and rammed it down our throats. He has removed opponents from their elected positions or fired them outright.

A vote for me will be a vote to fight this dictatorship and for the members to control the union with democratically run meetings and democratically elected officers.

Let the members decide! Let elected officers do their jobs, not Toussaint’s appointed hacks! To run our own union, indeed to vote in this election, members must pay their dues in full!

3. Unite Against All MTA Attacks! Prepare Now for a Contract Fight!

If the bosses get away with an attack on any Division, they’ll go after other divisions too. The Track Division leadership should do whatever it can to build actions against attacks on any fellow workers.

On the front burner: MTA Bus members from the Private Lines are still without a contract, and all of us are facing an upcoming contract with the MTA already asking for more givebacks. We must mobilize and prepare to strike to win a contract that we can be proud of, free of givebacks or trade-offs, with a real wage increase – above inflation.

4. For United Working-Class Struggle!

Track Division can only move forward together with other transit workers, and transit workers can only take our struggles forward together with the rest of the working class.

Our 2005 strike showed that we have the power to bring this city to a crawl. With such potential power, transit workers can show the way for the rest of the New York working class in struggles against economic attacks, racist attacks and even war.

The economy’s slide toward crisis is fanning the flames of racism. I’ll fight for the union to mobilize around all struggles against racist attacks.

We were all outraged by the recent court decision to let the cops who killed Sean Bell walk free. Our union could have been a powerful ally in the struggle for justice for Sean Bell. Instead, our leadership did nothing. Imagine if the union had instead mobilized in force for the protests. Further, imagine if the union had said, “If the courts say murdering a Black man in cold blood is legal, we’ll bring this city to a crawl or shut it down” and backed its words up action! We need a leadership that will organize our power to fight racism, for mass mobilizations against police brutality, including protest strikes: No Justice, No Peace, No Profits!

Undocumented immigrant workers are under the gun.  The bosses are using them to set worker against worker and increase the exploitation of us all. I’ll fight for the union to mobilize to defend the rights of all immigrants: Stop the raids! Amnesty Now!

Finally, the bloody U.S. imperialist occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq continue. Recently, the longshore workers on the West Coast set an inspiring example by holding a stop-work against the war. I’ll similarly fight for the Local to mobilize to protest those occupations.

In Conclusion

As my co-workers know, I’ve always proudly explained that I am a revolutionary socialist, a supporter of the political group the League for the Revolutionary Party. Our view, as explained in Revolutionary Transit Worker and the LRP’s magazine Proletarian Revolution, is that the working class’s struggles must lead to the overthrow of the capitalist profit system and that a revolutionary socialist party is needed to lead our battles. I hope that my election campaign and RTW’s ongoing efforts to take transit workers’ struggles forward will interest more of my fellow workers in learning more.

But you don’t have to subscribe to my socialist perspective to vote for me. I expect many workers will vote for me, as they have done in the past, because they know I can be trusted to always stand up to the bosses and politicians as well as the bureaucrats that try to sell us out, and because they support my program of mass struggle for workers’ interests.

Vote for Eric Josephson for Track Division Vice-Chair!