Based on the results of an Oct. 9 nominating meeting, members of the Subway Surface Supervisors Association will have a choice in whom they select to lead the union in next month’s election.
The 4,200-member union will choose between President Mike Carrube and Yvette Williams-Lawson, the current executive vice-president. She is heading up an opposition slate under the banner BEST—Bring Every Supervisor Together.
A union spokesman said Oct. 15 that Ms. Lawson's slate contained 17 candidates for 48 positions.
Mr. Carrube’s Supervisors in Solidarity slate includes John Deliso for executive vice president, Willie Torres for treasurer and Tommy Tocco as recording secretary.
Ms. Williams-Lawson had attempted to gain ballot access through the petition process, but the union’s election lawyer, Arthur Schwartz, ruled that she did not collect a sufficient number of signatures from across the union’s various departments as required by its by-laws and constitution.
“Yesterday, the SSSA nominations for officer positions were held in strict accordance with the election rules and consistent with our democratic process,” Mr. Carrube said in a statement to this newspaper. “I’m honored to have already been nominated for president by virtue of the 1,740 petition signatures my slate received prior to the meeting.”
His statement continued, “Moving forward, I ask SSSA members to judge me by what I’ve done over the past five years, not by what I say I’ll do simply because it’s election time. We are going to hit the ground running and take our message to the members and we’re going to fight like hell to keep Supervisors moving forward.”
Questions Timing, Locale
Ms. Williams-Lawson said in a phone interview that she was gratified by the expression of support she got at the meeting, which she could not attend since it was scheduled on Yom Kippur.
In a text she was sharply critical of the way the union conducted the nominating meeting on Yom Kippur, at 11 a.m. on a workday “when most of the members were at work.”
She continued, “The meeting was scheduled at a location that’s not easily accessible to public transportation and where there was no parking. Mr. Carrube did not want people to attend.”
At the heart of the contest is a controversial change in the union’s election rules, initiated by Mr. Carrube, that requires candidates for office to have at least five years in the union at top pay. Critics claim it is too restrictive and undemocratic.
Ainsley Stewart, a longtime union activist with Transport Workers Union Local 100 with 31 years in the transit system who became a Supervisor in 2014 said, “It should be left up to the members and who they trust,” he said. “All this does is suppress dissent and chill free speech.”
In 2014, Mr. Carrube was elected as a reformer who defeated SSSA President Tony Gammone, garnering 1,142 votes to his opponent’s 1,006.
In a written response to his critics, Mr. Carrube defended the by-law changes as being above-board and “originally approved in 2015 and clarified in 2018” as part “of a series of proposals approved by two sessions of the general membership.”
Ballots are slated to go out Nov. 4 and will be counted Nov. 26 by the American Arbitration Association.
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