Transit Workers and Allies Launch New Campaign
July 25, 2012
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
Before introducing different politicians who spoke about how they’ll need to do more on the city and state level to secure adequate funding for the nation’s largest transit system, Marvin Holland, political director for Transport Workers Union Local 100, noted that the issue of transportation being restored in the city is an issue that the union takes very seriously as it works closely with allies in the community.
The union kicked off the new “Bring Back Our Buses and Subways” campaign, which include organizations such as We Act for Environmental Justice, New Yorkers for Safe Transit and community activists, which aims to restore all the service cuts enacted in 2010 by former MTA Chairman Jay Walder.
Last week, the MTA indicated it would spend about $30 million to restore some of the cuts, which were far reaching. According to the union, 36 bus routes, 570 bus stops, over 100 station booths, two subway lines and two contracts with Access-A-Ride operators were reduced or eliminated.
Holland noted that of the partial service restored, not a single token booth was reopened.
Council Member Gale Brewer applauded the union for successfully building coalitions that enable community residents to voice their concerns and opposition to transit service cuts.
“TWU Local 100 has always worked with coalitions. Not every union does that. We appreciate that you understand the importance of building community. I want to thank you because that’s very unusual.”
She then noted that full restoration is a necessity.
“The crosstown M104 was not restored. People want to be able to come to the Upper West Side across 42nd Street.” And she’s upset that 100 station booths have not been reopened, which makes it very difficult for seniors to solve any issues they might have with their MetroCards.
Jake Carlson, advocacy coordinator for We Act, said during the presser, “We’re glad to hear some service has been restored, but we aren’t satisfied because not all 2010 service has been reestablished. In Manhattan, only two out of 17 bus lines cut have been brought back (M1 and M21). In Harlem and Washington Heights, the residents have all been but totally ignored.”
Community activist Helen Rosenthal who lives on the Upper West Side, and who rides the subway daily to get to downtown Manhattan, said “When I hear that 300 cleaning workers have lost their jobs and that token booths have been taken away, it makes me wonder whether the city and state are committed to economic, social and environmental justice.”
John Samuelsen, Local 100’s President, stressed how the new campaign is the new model the union will use to ensure service is restored for working families.
“Collectively, including working communities, advocacy groups, elected officials and Local 100, we demonstrated we could stop the MTA from backtracking on their perpetual insistence that they wouldn’t restore service.”
He added, “If we keep working collectively, we can get every ounce of service cut in 2010 restored in order to make the New York City transit system once again a first-class system for working families that use it.”
As almost 15,000 Local 100 workers live in Brooklyn, Samuelsen said that the union will never abandon these fights and the relation it has forged with different communities.
Assembly Member William Colton, where the B64 was restored in his Brooklyn District, noted that before the restoration he heard from small business owners who worried that they might lose business, that senior citizens couldn’t get to their doctor appointments or that parents might have to walk their children 14 blocks to school.
“These were real impacts that bus and service cuts have on real people. The MTA should be a leading advocate for public transportation,” said Colton. firstname.lastname@example.org