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Union Thugs Celebrate Toussaint, Illegal Strike

From the DNC’s Associated Press:

Transit Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint, center, marches across the Brooklyn Bridge with Rev. Al Sharpton, front right, and New York City teachers union head Randi Weingarten, front left, and other union supporters Monday, April 24, 2006, in New York. before turning himself in to serve a 10-day jail sentence for leading an illegal transit strike in New York city days before Christmas 2005.

Vigil Held for NYC Transit Union Chief

By ELIZABETH LeSURE
The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 25, 2006; 4:39 AM

NEW YORK — After a boisterous send-off complete with speeches, cheering crowds and a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, transit union boss Roger Toussaint began serving a 10-day jail sentence. Supporters started an overnight vigil in his honor.

Toussaint surrendered Monday to start his sentence for leading last year’s three-day transit strike that paralyzed the city during the Christmas shopping rush and violated a state law banning strikes by public employees.

Early Tuesday morning, about a dozen supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, gathered across the street from the jail. Sharpton said he planned to visit Toussaint later Tuesday.

Before he turned himself in, Toussaint marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, the same pedestrian route that tens of thousands of New Yorkers were forced to use during the strike. Drivers honked their horns and union members held hands to form barriers around their leader.

"I stand here today because a judge has found me guilty of contempt of court," Toussaint told supporters. "The truth of the matter is that I have nothing but contempt for a system that gives employers free rein to abuse workers."

Speaker after speaker hailed Toussaint as a hero who bravely stood up for the rights of the common man by demanding fair treatment on pensions, health care and wages. They screamed chants such as "Long live Roger Toussaint!", "Long live the union!" and "Let’s hear it for Roger!"

"It’s going to turn Roger Toussaint into an icon," Tony Young, a cleaner for the transit authority who was in the crowd, said of Toussaint’s jail term.

Gov. George Pataki disagreed. At a public appearance, Pataki said he wants people to remember the plight of Matthew Long, a firefighter who was run over by a private bus while he was bicycling to work during the strike — suffering a crushed pelvis.

"I would prefer that the people of New York think and pray of the firefighter who has gone through many operations and faces many more before he can walk, instead of someone who actually provoked this illegal action," Pataki said.

The 60-hour strike ended without a contract between Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the bus and subway system. Union members voted last week to approve an offer they had rejected in January, but the MTA has said it doesn’t have to accept the vote because the dispute is in binding arbitration.

The 33,000-member union was fined $2.5 million for the strike and plans to appeal.

Toussaint’s very public jailing evoked memories of 1966, when transit union president Michael J. Quill was jailed amid a 10-day strike starting on New Year’s Day. The 56-year-old labor leader, who had a history of heart attacks, grew ill in jail and was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he heard the announcement of a settlement.

Never mind that this thug’s illegal strike cost New York City one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000.00) in lost revenue. (A fact the AP felt unworthy of mention.)

Still, it’s always nice to see the professional racebaiter Rev. Al Sharpton getting some press.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, April 25th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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