October 31, 2011
By James Huntley, President, CWA Local 1182
I’m glad that Robert Cassar, Former President of CWA Local 1182, has filed his frivolous lawsuit against our union, described in an October 14 story in The Chief.
His lawsuit gives me an opportunity to once again remind New Yorkers that it is now a felony to assault traffic and sanitation enforcement agents in the performance of their duties thanks in part to Local 1182’s political action committee, which is at the center of the lawsuit filed Sept. 20 in the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
Former President Cassar claims that our political action committee doesn’t follow the constitution of our international union. The CWA Constitution says that a special assessment like the one that funds our political action committee is only justified in emergencies or if “income from dues and initiation fees is inadequate to finance necessary expense.” In the opinion of Former President Cassar, our political action committee doesn’t qualify as “necessary.”
I’d like to remind Ex-President Cassar that our members decide what expenses are necessary. Their vote on this issue was certified more than four years ago.
Ex-President Cassar also says that our members cannot afford a political action committee, which costs each Local 1182 member $2.50 per pay period or $65 a year. He points out that the members of Local 1182 are “not highly paid workers.” Once again, I’d like to point out that the members of Local 1182 decide for themselves what they can afford — and they express that opinion by voting.
It’s true that traffic and sanitation enforcement agents are underpaid. As we fight for compensation equal to the duties we perform and the dangers we face on the job, we need to have the attention of our elected officials. We need to make the point again and again that we bring in more than half-a-billion dollars a year for the City as we fight for the compensation we deserve.
Money from our political action committee has already paid for us to hire buses to send our members to Albany to visit with legislators face-to-face.
Because of our work, over the last two years it became a felony to assault uniformed traffic and sanitation enforcement agents in New York State. I’d like to thank our members for supporting us in the fight to get this law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.
Ex-President Cassar is not taking his own lawsuit seriously. Why did he wait to file his complaint for more than four years — until just two months before our union’s election? Incidentally, Ex-President Cassar is running in that election.
Now that he has finally filed his lawsuit, three weeks have passed and Ex-President Cassar has not even bothered to serve us with the papers in the case, even though our offices are easy to find here on Queens Blvd.
We will file to dismiss this frivolous lawsuit as soon as the papers arrive.
I also take issue with the language of The Chief in the headline for its story: “Ex-Leader Mounting a Comeback.” Nothing in The Chief story supports the idea that Ex-President Cassar has renewed support from the membership since he lost his election in 2005. Simply wanting his job back doesn’t constitute a comeback.