Wednesday, December 28, 2005

You Won't See this on Fox 5

A teacher sent this note based on a visit to TWU headquarters on Thurs., Dec. 22, just hours after the strike ended.

“I had a very satisfying experience while delivering a small token of solidarity to Local 100.

“A colleague, the daughter of a career NYC bus driver and TWU member, and I raised some money for the Local's relief fund. We raised about $180.00, a modest sum, but an effort that for the most part was strongly appreciated by most of the staff. You'll also be gratified to know that most of our newer teachers were eager to contribute.

“My school is just over the 59th Street Bridge in LIC, Local 100's HQ is on far west 64th St. and I live in Manhattan, so I thought I'd hand deliver the money. I expected to see people milling around, but the front of the building had just a couple of bored cops and camera crews in front. A man approached me wearing a red and yellow TWU armband around his forehead as a bandanna/doo rag. I asked him if he was a steward or picket captain. He gave me a brief but penetrating look, sizing me up, and then told me he was an officer of the union, a leader in the track division, I believe.

“When I introduced myself and told him why I was there he led me into the lobby of the building and asked me to wait briefly. He got on the house phone and called upstairs. I thought he was talking to someone in their Welfare or Member Services department when they took me upstairs to meet and hand the money to Roger Toussaint.

“I was led into the inner sanctum of the executive offices - which in typical union style were drab and dingy - and treated very warmly by staffers and rank and file members. The overall mood and tone among the people was one of calm and satisfaction. The only news I had heard up to that point was that they had gone back to work without a contract, something I equated with defeat. That was far from the mood in those rooms, which appeared to be peopled with the inner circle of the union. The basic message I got, perhaps more inferential that anything, was that, yes, they had returned to work w/o a contract, but that that was essentially a face-saving gesture for the benefit of the mayor and governor. The deeper reality seemed to be that the basic framework had been agreed to before TWU returned to work and the negotiations "officially" resumed.

“Standing calmly outside his office was Toussaint, quietly urging departing staffers to go home and party. I introduced myself, told him that many UFT'ers admired him and his members' willingness to stand up, and that there were people trying to get our union to do the same. He acknowledged that and asked about our school.

“The spirit in that building was not one of crisis or embattlement, but of strength and calm determination. Whatever the final result of this possibly epochal strike, which involves issues that are just beginning to play out, it was a very nice moment for me personally.”
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