Roger Toussaint (born 1956 in Trinidad and Tobago) was the President of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100, the union of New York City Transit Authority employees in New York City and is now Vice President of Strategic Planning for the parent union, an international organization.
Toussaint emigrated to New York from Trinidad and Tobago 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 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 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 named 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 as well as the strike were illegal, as they were in violation of New York State's Taylor Law. State Justice Theodore Jones has fined the union 2.5 million dollars and suspension of automatic due deductions to all members for striking. He also sentenced Mr. Toussaint to 10 days in jail, which began on April 25, 2006. However, due to good behavior, he was set free on April 28. On November 10, 2008, a State Supreme Court judge reinstated the Transport Workers Union's dues checkoff. The privilege was stripped from the union as a penalty for its illegal three-day strike in December 2005. The city's Law Department says it will not stand in the way of the ruling because the union has pledged not to conduct illegal transit strikes in the future.
- "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.
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