On January 18, 2013, a member of the New York chapter of the United Front Against Austerity made a direct intervention into the Amalgamated Transit Union’s picket line outside of Tweed Courthouse at 52 Chambers Street. The picket line was run from 9am until 5pm, with rotating shifts, which involved not only ATU members, but also MTA and Verizon union members - bolstering their numbers and showing solidarity with workers opposed to Mayor Bloomberg’s dirty doings.
The demand of the day for the ATU was for stronger job security, as defined under law as Employment Protection Provisions (EPP), that is, that an employee with EPP keeps their job under business restructuring. In this particular case, it is to keep school bus drivers on their normal routes even if the company contracted for their schools changes. Not only a matter of job security for ATU members, the EPP also functions as a safety precaution for New York City’s youth - that they continue to have the same experienced bus drivers working the same routes, keeping them as safe as possible during their trip to and from school on the hazardous streets of New York City.
The UFAA joined in on this strike with a call for a citywide program, as defined in its Strike Support flyer: that all of New York City must demand a living wage of $15/hr ($31,000/year full-time); demand the right to form Trade Unions and bargain collectively with employers; and that groups, such as students, the unemployed, fast food workers, etc., must come together to demand on a national level for a 1% Wall Street Sales tax, a student debt freeze and no further cuts to the “social-safety net”. Only demands as broad and sweeping as these can unite the disparate forces of the poor, working and middle-class against such “one-percenters” as the third-term “King” Bloomberg.
While somewhat irked by a UFAA pamphlet with the headline that read “Obama Eager to Betray his Base”, the picketers were at least as equally astonished to meet an organization working on such broad terms. Many picketers were also drawn to the UFAA’s “Wall Street Sales Tax tick” flyer and eagerly snatched copies of it out of this author’s hand to learn more.
As the ATU’s strike for job security continues, the New York chapter of the UFAA will be there to provide support and suggestions, as part of its wide-ranging fight against economic austerity in all its forms.