TWU local 100 Update – MFY Legal on Strike

Our guest, John Samuelson, is embarking on his fifth year at the helm of TWU local 100. We will learn about his challenges and triumphs; what the union has done to go to bat for its members; the ever present issue of job safety and some recent victories in organizing.  We next interview a young attorney and two staff members from MFY Legal services. They’re on strike – quite reluctantly, but out on the picket line never-the-less. They assert the failure of the MFY’s management to provide adequate working conditions, decent pay and benefits for support staff members has forced the issue.

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TWU Local 100 Update

John Samuelson, President of TWU local 100John Samuelson was first interviewed by Labor-Lines in January of 2010, almost immediately after as he assumed office as the new president of TWU Local 100. Re-elected last year, he is now in his second term. During his first term, he assembled a diverse staff, assigned responsibilities to them and trusted their abilities to manage their assignments. Unlike the practice in some unions, he’s permitted trustees and other union officials to visit our radio program and other media outlets regularly to talk up their issues.  We have had officers of TWU local 100 on our airwaves discussing everything from their militancy to force the MTA to give them a fair contract to their involvement in the People’s Climate March; their campaign for expanded Veterans’ pension rights, to worker safety issues and worker education initiatives.

We are honored with a return visit from President Samuelson, himself, to recap the first four years and update us on what is on the TWU 100 radar screen. Samuelson became President during turbulent times. He has managed to invigorate the Union and unify it as much as anyone could unify such a diverse group of union members.  TWU local 100 refused to bow down to overbearing influence of Mayor Bloomberg and kept to its pledge of no zeros for heroes, reminding NYC-TA negotiators that TWU members toiled in the trenches to get New York City back on its feet after Super-storm Sandy. Samuelson also discusses TWU’s most recent campaign to organize bike share workers around the country and he describes the dangers TWU workers confront daily in their various job titles. A track worker himself, Samuelson always thought his job was the most dangerous one in Transit, until he started visiting all the other jobs and locations after becoming President of the union.

John Samuelson, Pres @TWUlocal100 tells us re union fight for good contracts, veteran rights and more on @LaborLines Tweet this

MFY Legal on Strike

MFY Legal LSSA 2320 membersLawyers and their support staff in the non-profit sector generally earn less than those who have gone the corporate route. But lawyers with burgeoning case-loads of cases for poor people, who cannot otherwise afford legal representation, find it ever more difficult to handle their work-loads as their support staff workers become demoralized by low pay, and move on to other jobs.  MFY’s mission is to provide legal services to the poor. Apparently Board of Directors of this organization, mostly lawyers from “white shoe” firms, believe that this “mission” means the lawyers and staff also have to become poor! At least they recently used a similar argument in contract negotiations. That was the proverbial straw! Outraged by the shabby treatment, MFY attorneys and support staff voted to strike. This past week saw a number of rallies in Manhattan to draw public attention. With a 14% turnover rate, it was clear that something needed to change at MFY Legal. Our guests, an attorney and two support staff employees, who range in experience from three months to fourteen years, have taken to the streets with their colleagues They reveal how the contract negotiations deteriorated when the bosses failed to maintain open channels of communication. We learn that what they are seeking in a new contract is for the entire staff to be paid a living wage and treated with dignity. What we found particularly irksome was that the management does not want to give the people who actually do the work the same kind of benefits they give themselves.

Hear @MFYLegal @LSSA2320 members RE their ongoing strike to make sure all employees receive good pay Tweet this

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