May 3, 2012
By Samantha Saly
IAMAW District 15 emerged victorious on May 1, after a months-long organizing struggle at black car company Town Car International. Results of the NLRB representation election, held at the company base in Long Island City, gave a landslide victory to the Machinists with a margin of 2-to-1. Drivers are hopeful that the May Day win will put an end to the widely reported use of intimidation tactics, direct threats, and acts of attempted bribery by management at Town Car in what became an intensely heated last-ditch attempt by owners to deliver a no vote.
“They withstood a lot of anti-union sentiment from the company, and also a lot of tactics, coercion,” said Vinny Addeo, Director of Organizing for IAMAW District 15. “These guys had the courage to come out and stand right outside of their building and solicit their brother drivers. These guys are going to have the dignity and respect that they deserve and stop being treated like lower-class citizens.”’
After the result announcement, Jim Conigliaro, Sr., Directing Business Representative for IAMAW District 15, told new members that the successful organizing effort at Town Car will be only the first in a series of wins for the union in securing respect and fair-treatment for black car drivers in the city. “Tomorrow we are back to work,” Conigliaro said. We’ve got plenty of other companies on the horizon. They [drivers] were waiting for this victory; they knew it would be a victory. They’re ready to join with us, unite together.”
The next steps are clear for drivers at Town Car and the IAMAW. “The economy is coming back,” Conigliaro said. “The drivers have said enough is enough. A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work—it hasn’t been that way in this industry. We want a contract now. We don’t want to hurt owners, but we want a fair piece of the pie. And we’re not going to stop until we get it.”