TWU Local 100 and its members face heavy fines for our strike, waged in defiance of the Taylor Law. Mayor Bloomberg is suing the Local and its officers to extract further penalties, which include the threat of jail time for President Toussaint and other officers. Transit and all workers must oppose this government attack on workers and our unions!
When Toussaint, Secretary-Treasurer Ed Watt and Co. finally go to court, we should turn out to defend them in militant protest and insist that other unions join us there. While RTW has opposed each and every betrayal by the Toussaint leadership, we don’t think any self-respecting workers’ organization lets the capitalist state jail its leaders. And we have a real chance to use the renewed contract struggle to take on the Taylor Law itself.
The capitalist state exists to enforce the extraction of profits by the bosses from the labor of the working class. The cops, courts and laws are there to repress us and protect the bosses. The Taylor Law is an important weapon in this arsenal. It aims directly at unions -- the only mass organizations workers have today. But its effects go beyond the unionized employees to hit all workers -- history shows that both the gains and losses of the unions affect the entire working class.
RTW has for many years advocated a fight against the Taylor Law. But President Toussaint, adding to his shameful record, didn't even try to make amnesty from all Taylor Law penalties into a strike demand. Now we have voted down the bad contract deal that Toussaint & Co. tried to impose on us. We have an opportunity to fight this vicious law as part of a new, militant contract strategy. Such a strategy, we argue, must prepare for a new strike and should include the demand for amnesty from Taylor Law penalties.
In waging our strike and fighting givebacks, we were not only fighting for ourselves but for other city workers. In the same spirit, we should press other city unions to join and support a renewed struggle against the Taylor Law. The mis-leaders of other city unions have as shabby a record as Toussaint, including their attitude toward the Taylor Law.
Moves by bureaucrats like Randi Weingarten of the United Federation of Teachers and Lillian Roberts of District Council 37 to “fight” the Taylor law have consisted of pathetically weak proposals to amend the law in ways which would not even make public strikes legal. Instead, they hope a few small changes to the law might pressure management to bargain a little more. In accepting the Taylor Law’s ban on strikes, the pro-capitalist union leaders show that they prefer to keep a law in place which helps beat their own members into submission.
But we can take on and defeat such laws. Even union leaders who try to avoid a real struggle against the bosses and politicians can be pressured to mobilize the ranks to do it. When the bosses jailed Local 100 President Mike Quill and other union leaders during the historic 1966 strike, both the leaders and the members redoubled their fightback. The TWU and other unions held a massive demonstration of 15,000 workers at City Hall. As a result, they won amnesty from the Condon-Wadlin Act, the repressive anti-strike law of the time. In fact, that Act had been rendered useless by the strikers; the legislature repealed it, and Governor Rockefeller signed the repeal. The Taylor Law, enacted to be an even better bosses' weapon, deserves the same fate.
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Write to us:RTW
P.O. Box 1936
Murray Hill Station
New York, NY 10156