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Roger Toussaint (born 1956 in Trinidad and Tobago) was the president of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100, the union of New York City Transit Authority employees in New York City and former Vice President of Strategic Planning for the parent union, an international organization.
Toussaint emigrated to New York City from Trinidad and Tobago, Trinbagonian also Americanized as Trini at the age of 18 and settled in Brooklyn. He enrolled at Brooklyn College, and held a succession of blue-collar jobs including working as a welder. He was hired by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as a cleaner in 1984, and became a track worker in 1985.
Dissatisfied with working conditions at the Transit Authority, he and his fellow track workers started a newsletter called "On Track" which highlighted worker grievances. In 1994, he became a formal union member when he was elected leader of the 1800-member Track Division. As a TWU member, he was active in pursuing workers' grievances, much to the dislike of management.
In November 1998, he was fired by the Transit Authority for having been in an unauthorized car during working hours, although he was on official union business. Toussaint had been in an accident three months earlier (he was hit at an intersection), and had suffered neck and back injuries. Management had apparently hired private investigators to follow him. When the extensive surveillance was exposed, including trips to his son's nursery school and union meetings, his firing became a rallying cry for union members who demanded his reinstatement. In the 2000 union election, he was elected president of the TWU. Upon taking office, he cut his own salary by 25%.
After being re-elected in 2006, he came under heavy criticism from his membership as he began removing union officers who were elected on opposition slates and began working more closely with New York City Transit management.
In mid-2009, amid heavy criticism, Toussaint decided not run for re-election. Instead, Toussaint hand–picked a presidential candidate, Curtis Tate, to run. Former Toussaint ally John Samuelsen handily defeated Tate and became president of TWU Local 100 effective January 2010.
On December 20, 2005, Toussaint announced the start of the 2005 New York City transit strike after a protracted contract dispute with the New York City Transit Authority, concerning worker salaries, retirement age, pensions, and working conditions. Both the MTA's attempts to negotiate pension benefits for public employees and the strike were illegal, as they were in violation of New York State's Taylor Law. State Justice Theodore Jones fined the union 2.5 million dollars and suspension of automatic dues deductions to all members for striking. He also sentenced Toussaint to 10 days in jail, which began on April 25, 2006. However, due to good behavior, Toussaint was set free on April 28.
On November 10, 2008, a State Supreme Court judge reinstated the Transport Workers Union's dues checkoff. The city's Law Department said it would not stand in the way of the ruling because the union had pledged not to conduct illegal transit strikes in the future.
- 1966 New York City transit strike
- 1980 New York City transit strike
- 2005 New York City transit strike
- Trade unions
- "Transport Workers Union Boss John Samuelsen Doesn't Give a Shite What You Think of Him". The Village Voice. 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
- "New York State Public Employees Fair Employment Act — The Taylor Law". NYS Governor's Office of Employee Relations.
- Roberts, Sam (December 21, 2005). "Meet Taylor, for Whom Fines Are Set". The New York Times.
- Speaker's bio - Columbia University, Revson Fellows dinner speaker, 2003–2004.
- ^ Smeed, Jeremy, "Kalikow Warns Talks May Be "Futile", New York Sun, December 22, 2005.