Saturday, April 22, 2006

NY Union Celebrates Illegal Strike and Fine

Labor unions are a bar to economic freedom and growth. What they aided in the early 20th century is a memory that is fading fast. As industry has to compete unions in private industry have been shrinking. But state and local governments and other public agencies don't have to compete, so they can be generous with their workers and pass the bill on to you and me, the tax-paying suckers. And the unions raise barriers to new workers and cause inefficient work rules. Here is a glaring example in today's news. The New York Transit workers conducted an illegal 3-day strike in December, 2005. The union was levied a fine of $2.5 million and the union boss was sentenced to jail. Story. So the union boss Roger Toussaint - the term definitely applies here - held an expensive party to celebrate his going to jail, the New York Post reports.
Toussaint and his fans were treated to an elaborate spread of Spanish and Italian food on balloon-adorned tables. DJ Willove mixed reggae from the TWU boss' native Trinidad with electronic and pop tunes that lured the big man onto the dance floor. The alcohol flowed at the open-bar party, which kicked off at about 6 p.m., and plenty of the labor-loving supporters stumbled out late into the night.
How will the union pay the $2.5 million? By levying the drivers who weren't invited to the party.
But the frivolities had some union workers hopping mad as they questioned where the cash was coming from to pay for Toussaint's bash. "We have millions of dollars of fines. He's going to jail. He's got to be out of his mind," said Local 1199 vice president Bill Pelletier, who was not invited. "Who's paying for this? It's probably coming out of the union budget." Despite several queries to union officials, The Post was unable to determine who paid for the party. Several uninvited union officials also cried foul over Toussaint's latest push to ask TWU members to donate up to $80 each to cover the $2.5 million fine a judge slapped on the union for December's illegal strike
Public companies have an inherent conflict of interest. The leaders can be generous without it costing them; they can pass the cost on to the public and be the heroes by being "generous." This results in unions like the Transit Workers Union of New York. Though in this case boss Toussaint went too far twice. Some illegal strikes are tolerated; but he managed to do one that was not tolerated by the public and the courts. And now he has flaunted his criminal behavior at the cost of his rank-and-file members, so they will remember him with every extra dollar they have to pay. And the judge did one thing that Toussaint can't celebrate or pass off on his members:
State Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones also cut the flow of dues to Transport Workers Union Local 100 by indefinitely suspending automatic payroll deductions...
That cuts the money flow off. That does hurt Toussaint.

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