2012-11-30 / Top Stories

Rockaway Shuttle Sparks Union Battle

A shuttle bus system set up to give beleaguered Rockaway commuters a transportation alternative has sparked a battle between two Transit Workers Union heavyweights.

At issue is the use of articulated buses, virtually two buses joined at the hip and driven by one union bus driver. The union has long resisted the use of the articulated buses on the theory that their use would mean fewer union jobs, insiders say.

According to insider documents acquired by The Wave, Stephon Thomas, the vice president of TWU Local 100 entered into an agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Administration (MTA) and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 for the Brooklyn Division to use the articulated buses in the special Rockaway Shuttle that replaces A train service to Rockaway as a commuter alternative.

“You have now opened the door to the very real possibility that articulated buses will remain even after the shuttle work in the Rockaways is completed. Your secret deal may well have a long term damaging effect on the union,” Union president John Samuelsen wrote to Thomas in an internal email.

One union member who spoke with The Wave with a promise of anonymity asked if Thomas was acting in the best interest of his membership in dealing with the MTA and other unions to provide much-needed transportation to storm-ravaged Rockaway.

Samuelsen has demanded that Thomas end his agreement and keep articulated buses out of Rockaway despite the need for commuter transportation.

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