It seems the transit strike of 2005 did not cause ill will between Elliot Spitzer & the TWU. According to a labor leader familiar with his intentions, Gov. Spitzer plans on supporting the Transport Workers Union Local 100 if it chooses to reacquire their checkoff power.
The planned support from Gov. Spitzer will most likely lead to some sharp criticism from critics but a union leader has a theory on why Gov. Spitzer will support the TWU. The union leader had this to say; “The governor is trying to position himself to see a productive collective-bargaining season in 2008. He’ll take the public relations hit now because at the end of the contract, he doesn’t want to go through that kind of problem again. He’s positioning himself, putting himself and the MTA in a better position for the future.” For those wondering, the current 3 year TWU contract expires at the end of December 2008.
The reason why the TWU would have to reacquire the rights to deduct dues is because they lost checkoff power as of June 1. The penalty was a part of the strike penalty package approved last year by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones. Mr. Jones has since been elevated to the state’s highest court by Gov. Spitzer. This obviously is considered a blow to the TWU who sees Mr. Hones as nothing more than a “union buster”.
The TWU Local 100 could definitely use their checkoff power back as they have been in a financial crisis since the strike. The checkoff status had brought the union approximately $1.5 million dollars a month. However without the checkoff power at their disposal, they were forced to ask members to pay their dues directly. Unfortunately for them, only about 16,000 of their 34,000+ member base paid their dues.
The TWU has had the option to reacquire the checkoff power since August. The law dictated that they had to wait 90 days before they were eligible to petition the court to have its checkoff power reinstated. So one might question why the cash strapped union has not done so as of yet, well lets just say a huge stumbling block is in the way. If they were to reacquire their checkoff power, they would be forced to guarantee they will never strike again. This is a huge sticking point for the union as giving up that option would be like giving away your “ace in the hole”.
Lets just say that this stalemate will be quite interesting!