May 12, 2011
By Kismet Barksdale
NEW YORK, NY (May 12, 2011) Officers of a dozen unions representing 60,000 employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority elected two union leaders, John Samuelsen of TWU Local 100 and Angelo Tanzi of ATU Local 726, to serve as Chair and Co Chair of the MTA Labor Coalition. The Coalition, which has a history going back to 1991, has been reinvigorated and intends to aggressively fight to defend the wages and working conditions of members represented by each Coalition union, and to campaign for improved worker safety, Samuelsen said.
Samuelsen’s Union, TWU Local 100, is the largest in the Coalition, with some 38,000 members including MTA bus and subway operators, track workers, cleaners, maintainers, and mechanics. ATU Local 726 represents bus operators and mechanics on Staten Island.
The Coalition has already lobbied Albany lawmakers to support A. 6766/S.4257, which would establish a “lock box” for mass transit funding to insure that it could not be “raided” for other budgetary needs. The bill is sponsored by two powerhouses in the legislature, Assemblyman Jim Brennan, who heads the Committee on Corporations and Authorities, and State Senator Martin Golden.
Other top officers elected today included Behrouz Fathi, President of Local 375 of DC 37, the Civil Service Technical Guild, and Felix Maestri, President of ARASA Lodge 1157. ARASA represents maintenance of way supervisors at the Metro North railroad. Local 375 represents some 1,200 MTA architects, designers, and engineers who predominantly work out of the Authority’s building at 2 Broadway. Besides the officers, ten board members were also chosen, representing most of the MTA Labor Coalition’s constituent unions, including the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association, Teamsters Local 808, Long Island Bus, and the Long Island Rail Road.