Transit workers irate over $2 million Great Adventure trip
Some transit workers aren’t feeling so amused about $2 million spent on days of family fun at Six Flags Great Adventure.“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Santos Garcia, a bus driver in Brooklyn. “If they want an amusement park, they should have gone to Coney Island.” As amNewYork reported last Friday, former leaders of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 agreed in 2008 to shell out $2 million garnered from dues, donations and individual contributions for an outing to Great Adventure for thousands of workers and their families. Former TWU president Roger Toussaint said union leaders were well aware of the deal, but it came as a resounding surprise to some transit workers. “A lot of the members are disappointed, amazed and shocked. Every adjective you can come up with, they are using it,” said Vaughn Brooks, a Bronx bus driver. Workers pay about $12 a week in dues to the union, which covers lobbying, salaries and programs for its 39,000 members. Some members said the money should have been used for childcare assistance or benefits, or to straighten out the union’s troubled finances. The TWU ran deficits of more than $5 million between 2007 and 2009, according to the new leadership.
“It’s like a kick in the gut. We’re supposed to be out there making a better work environment for the members,” said Norman Pou, a Brooklyn station agent.Toussaint justified the trips, arguing that they were trying to bring the TWU together and reward members who paid their dues. The union’s finances soured after he inked the Great Adventure contract, and he renegotiated it to cover three trips instead of just one, he said. “This was an entirely reasonable undertaking on the part of the union,” Toussaint said Monday. “This was intended as a celebration of the members of who were in good standing.” The new TWU leaders are investigating the spending, officials said.