Last year, the TTC’s workers reached a deal with the city on a new contract, ending more than a year of negotiations. Shortly after the contract was signed, it became clear that the timing was wrong. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s chief political rival, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, had said he wanted a mandate from voters to avoid being too closely associated with the labor relations of a politically delicate contract. The New York Post made a political play out of the announcement that two of de Blasio’s campaign donors had donated between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Coalition for Healthy NYC, a nonprofit tied to the mayor-elect.
The contract workers were never eligible to vote because it was negotiated by the neutral Transit Workers Union, Local 100. This time around, however, Local 100 officials turned up the heat. Standing outside City Hall, they held a massive rally demanding that the mayor not sign off on a bill that would force the MTA to cover the cost of workers’ vaccines. (The legislation would allow riders to bring their own vaccines.) Workers were forced to turn in resumes for a job as some saw it as “the worst thing we could ask of the union.” They said it was the union that called union leadership and said they would throw them off the contract for defying the administration and trying to close the deal earlier.
Though they had turned in statements and resumes, labor leaders in charge of the contract drive spoke out about the need to push the mayor back. “I didn’t want our union to just sit there and die,” Clyde Williams, the general secretary-treasurer, said during a meeting that he convened at a Greyhound station near City Hall last month, according to The New York Times. “People gotta take action.”
Then on Friday, they didn’t. After a two-week election campaign, Gabe Rosenberg, Local 100’s president, lost his bid for re-election as the president of the Transport Workers Union.
Rosenberg was the third person to lead the union. He was the only person not from the mayor’s side. Despite the controversy that he is raising his hands, he could have gotten it.
“The MTA just gave away an opportunity to explain what happened to us. We weren’t given that opportunity,” he said. “What next week? Don’t have a president? Then what? We lost.”