Union makes it personal by bringing protests--and rat--to MTA chief's home
TriBeCa is smelling a big, fat rat.
Furious members of the transit union have taken their ire over layoffs directly to the apartment building where MTA CEO Jay Walder lives, picketing at his front door with a “union rat” balloon.
The rat is typically only used in front of commercial buildings — and Walder’s neighbors aren’t amused with their unwanted guest, who will probably be around for a few more days, at least.
“It’s appalling,” said Anne Libby, a 14-year resident who’s against the station agent layoffs. “Home should be someone’s refuge. This is no place to protest.”But getting people in the neighborhood riled up is just what union leaders want.
“His neighbors use the trains like everyone else in New York,” said Israel Rivera, Transport Workers Union Local 100 secretary treasurer. “He’s made it personal against us, we want to make it personal against him.”
The union fuming over the MTA’s decision to lay off 468 station agents across the system, along with 700 bus operators and other workers this summer. The cash-strapped agency let go 266 clerks Tuesday despite a temporary legal stay, with both sides back in court Wednesday to haggle over the fate of rest of the agents.So, the rat will be visiting for a while. “It’s indefinite for right now,” said John Samuelsen, TWU president.
On Monday, several dozen TWU members carted signs and the rat to Walder’s 52-story apartment building, confusing dwellers of the 440-unit complex. “Most people didn’t know he lived here,” said Jeanne Zingaro, a 14-year resident. “I’m all for free speech, but the only people they are bothering is the residents.”
For years, city unions have plopped the inflatable rat outside of offending companies and construction sites, but it is rare to find the beady-eyed behemoth in front of someone’s home, according to several associations.
“I think (the rat) is effective. It stops people. They want to know what the issue is,” said John Turchiano, a spokesman for the New York Hotel Trades Council, which owns several rats.
A MTA spokesman declined to comment.---
- Used in the city for at least 15 years
- Many come from Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights company in Plainfield,
- From six to 30 feet in size; can cost thousands of dollars
- Inflates in minutes and deflates in seconds
- Have been caught up in court cases, but they are still lawful to use
- Appeared in the city¹s 2001 Labor Day parade