2004-11-12 / Community

Transit Union: Delay In Takeover A Crisis

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

By Miriam Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

Council members Joseph Addabbo, Jr., Diana Reyna, and John Liu join Local 100 union leader Roger Toussaint on the steps of city hall to demand that the city and MTA take action to resolve the takeover of the private buses for the sake of the workers and the riders.
Council members Joseph Addabbo, Jr., Diana Reyna, and John Liu join Local 100 union leader Roger Toussaint on the steps of city hall to demand that the city and MTA take action to resolve the takeover of the private buses for the sake of the workers and the riders. Politicians and union officials took to the steps of City Hall last week to argue that the city’s delay in taking over the private bus lines that serve Queens riders has become a “crisis” for the employees of those seven bus lines, including those that impact Rockaway – Green Bus, Jamaica Bus and Triboro Transportation.

City Council members and Members of the Transport Workers Union, Local 100 held a press conference on the steps of City Hall on November 4 to call attention to that crisis.

Union officials pointed to a number of factors in the stalled takeover plan that impacts the quality of life of those who work for the three companies.

Health benefits for the workers, for example, were covered under the current contract with the private companies that expired in 2003. Union members have been working without a contract while the city and the MTA have been negotiating the takeover with the companies.

“We are nearing the end of the third six-month extension since the crisis began,” said union president Roger Toussaint, referring to the several extensions granted and missed by the city and the MTA to takeover the buses. “Each extension has brought our members more uncertainty, and has put our families’ health care coverage deeper in risk.”

“Some of the health [providers] threaten to pull benefits this month. We need a serious infusion of funds to maintain health benefits. The city has refused to talk about health benefits.

“We will never go on strike to wake people up,” continued Toussaint. “[But] we will not move buses without health insurance. That will never happen.”

Toussaint called for “a swift resolution, fair to the workers who are keeping the these buses running, and fair to the thousands of New Yorkers who depend on them to get to work and to school every day.”

Also attending the press conference were Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr., a member of the Transportation Committee and the chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee. Addabbo pointed out that since the April announcement of the transfer of the buses to the MTA there has been no progress on property issues, lease agreements or on the subject of equipment.

Majority whip Leroy Comrie expressed indignation at the MTA and the city.

“Queens can’t get anything it deserves and it is totally unfair,” Comrie said. “The mayor and the governor should know how despicable and unfair it is to riders and workers, and how disrespectful it is to the borough.”

Transportation Committee Chair John Liu concluded the press conference by saying that he did not believe that the December 4 deadline for the takeover would be met.

The press conference followed the third and final Transportation Committee Hearing before the takeover is scheduled to occur.

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