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Workers: Big TWU trip a campaign ploy

Union leaders billed it as “family fun,” but a $2 million outing to Great Adventure smelled more like a campaign ploy some transit workers said Monday as anger continued to build over the high pricetag of the trip.

“Of course it was political,” said Jesse Mendoza, a Bronx bus driver who attended the event organized by former leaders of the Transport Workers Union Local 100.

As amNewYork recently reported, the TWU leadership agreed in 2008 to shell out $2 million in dues, donations and individual contributions for 30,000 members and their families to go to Great Adventure. The outing was scheduled for June, the same month that supporters of then TWU president, Roger Toussaint, faced a tough election. To attend, members had to pay about $60 a pop and any back dues — making them eligible to vote.

“It was just propaganda,” said Santos Garcia, a Brooklyn bus driver and among the many rank-and-file members who said they had not been aware of how much the outing cost. Garcia argued that union funds were used for “campaigning purposes.”

Toussaint, whose slate ended up losing the elections, denied the trip was electioneering, saying the goal was to bring the union together and help collect unpaid dues. Nearly 1,000 members paid off their dues to attend, generating thousands of dollars for the union, he said.
“This was responsible planning,” he said.

Despite heavy promotion, ticket sales were less than expected, and former leaders renegotiated the contract to cover three trips at the park for the same amount of money.

The current union leaders will go ahead with the third and final outing for 10,000 members this summer, a TWU spokesman said. Officials would have to fight the contract in court and the TWU isn’t prepared to spend the money to do so, he said.

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