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Judge rules Transit Workers Union can resume collecting dues following illegal 2005 strike

A judge has restored the Transport Workers Union’s right to checkoff, a union dues collection system another judge revoked as a penalty for the strike that halted the city’s mass transit system at Christmastime in 2005.

State Supreme Court Justice Bruce Balter agreed to the restoration of checkoff Nov.10. The ruling came following TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint’s submitting of an affidavit pledging no more strikes, which are illegal under the state Taylor Law.

The TWU was fined $2.5 million and its dues checkoff system taken away as penalties for the nearly 60−hour strike by 34,000 workers in December 2005.

Dues checkoff is a system common to organized labor in which the employer automatically deducts union dues from wages of union members and transfers the money to the union.

Although the Transport Workers Local 100 released no figures, sources indicated many workers had not paid their dues independently, resulting in heavy financial losses to the union.

Subway and bus employees of the New York City Transit Authority struck Dec. 20, 2005 returning to work Dec. 22.

Toussaint was sentenced to 10 days in jail by State Supreme Court Judge Theodore Jones in Brooklyn, but released before serving the entire term.

The agreement ending the strike was at first rejected by the workers, but accepted in a second vote three months later.

The TWU also struck for 11 days in 1980.

The first strike of subway and bus workers was in 1966 as Mayor John Lindsay took office, resulting in the jailing of legendary TWU President Michael Quill after he refused a court order to call off the walkout.

Quill was held in contempt of court and locked up after he declared in a nationally broadcast news conference: “The judge can drop dead in his black robes.”

The 1966 strike was followed by passage of the Taylor Law outlawing strikes by state employees.

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