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Arthur Schwartz rolls with T.W.U.; Transit union endorses Council bid

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | First he was endorsed by Black Lives Matter, whose local leader hailed him as an O.G. (original gangster).

Now Arthur Schwartz is ridin’ with the Transport Workers Union. Yes, that’s right, Local 100 of the T.W.U. is rolling with the Village Democratic district leader, endorsing him for City Council in the West Side’s District 3.

The T.W.U. represents 41,000 workers in New York City public transportation, including all subway train operators and bus drivers, maintenance and sanitation personnel and token booth clerks.

Schwartz publicly announced the endorsement two weeks ago at a virtual forum for City Council candidates in Districts 2 and 3 held by the Downtown Independent Democrats club.

“I’m honored to get that,” Schwartz told The Village Sun of the T.W.U. nod. “It’s one of the largest unions in New York City.”

Perhaps the endorsement does not come as such a shock, though, since Schwartz has close ties with the union. He was the general counsel for the T.W.U. from 2001 to 2006, including during the union’s two-day transit strike against the M.T.A. in 2005. He is currently an attorney for the union.

A political rep for the T.W.U. confirmed that it had endorsed the Village activist — though noting that Schwartz had gotten out ahead of the union’s own announcement.

“We actually are endorsing him,” Sharase DeBouse said, speaking on the record, “but we weren’t releasing it yet. We’re still participating in candidate screenings. We’re not really finished with our process.”

She noted that, with more than 350 candidates running for office in New York City in the 2021 election, T.W.U. still has a lot of interviews to conduct.

“I guess he put it out there before we wanted,” she said with a laugh, though adding, “We are definitely endorsing Arthur Schwartz.

“He’s been with T.W.U. for the longest,” she said. “He knows our issues. He’s like a fixture here. He knows how important it is for us to receive funding, and he knows the history of transportation in the city.”

Indeed, last week Schwartz was preparing to file a lawsuit for the union to keep subway token booths manned when the clerks go on lunch break.

He proudly claimed that his endorsement by the T.W.U. was “the first” by the union this political season.

Schwartz snagging the coveted endorsement, though, likely doesn’t “fit the narrative” of Transportation Alternatives and Streetsblog. The advocacy group and the publication have criticized him for filing lawsuits against the car-banning 14th St. busway and the new crosstown bike lanes on 12th and 13th Sts.

District Leader Arthur Schwartz said he does not actually oppose the 14th St. busway — just disapproves of the process by which it was O.K.’d. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Similarly, Schwartz’s actual campaign positions on transit might surprise some people.

“My platform calls for buses to be free and subways to be much reduced in cost,” he told The Village Sun. “Eventually, I want there to be free subways, too.”

Schwartz noted that it was under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg — who slashed transit funding — that fares began to rise.

“Before Bloomberg, the city put $700 million a year into the New York City Transit Authority,” he said. “The state used to match this. When the state stopped putting it into the operating budget, that’s when the fare shot up.

“So much of the [Transit] operating budget became dependent on fares,” Schwartz said. “That’s why I’m saying the city and state should put $1 billion each into the operating budget.”

Meanwhile, Schwartz thinks the bike lobby has an undue amount of clout, arguing that biking only accounts for about 2 percent of the way people actually move around the city.

“Anyone that says the main transportation emphasis in New York has to be on bikes isn’t looking at how people get around,” he stated.

And Schwartz clarified…wait for it, busway backers…that he is not actually against the busway.

“I didn’t fight the busway,” he insisted. “I wasn’t against the busway ever. I was against shutting 14th St. down to all traffic without doing a proper environmental study. … I don’t see any contradiction at all.”

4 Comments

  1. Bill Weinberg Bill Weinberg November 21, 2020

    I love the way everybody sells out bicyclists. We’re the new Jews.

  2. Lily carver Lily carver November 21, 2020

    Oh goodie and can we have free housing and food to go with free buses and subway? I mean the MTA faces a $12 BILLION shortfall and the man who tried to screw commuters by holding up the 14th St. busway now wants their support with the pie-in-the-sky idea of free public transit. Any idea how to pay for it in the middle of the cities worst fiscal crisis? Curious what THE VILLAGE SUN gets for its constant shilling for Mr. Schwartz? Do we get another big story when he is endorsed by the 13th St. Block Association for helping delay the busway? I hope transit riders never forget not only his despicable actions but that he compared pro-public transit protesters who had the gall to picket his brownstone to the KKK!!!

  3. Arthur Schwartz Arthur Schwartz November 23, 2020

    As a frequent Citi Bike user, who appreciates the difficulties of biking next to moving vehicles, and as part of a family (including two teenagers) which uses bikes to get everywhere, I would not sell bike users out. Its the E-bikes which create most of the problems and anger. Wanting a $2 billion per year infusion for public transit is not selling out bike riders.
    As for Ms. Carver, I have a fervent hope that the MTA will get its bailout, and NYC will get its bailout, and that post-vaccine, the NYC economy will revive. My proposal to have the City contribute 1% of its budget to NYC Transit is not something new; it used to be policy. It can be done, even if it means more taxes, which I will gladly pay.
    Picketing my home, where my family lives, to pressure me to drop a case where I represent hundreds of clients seeking input into rational government? Call me names, write articles in the press, file briefs supporting the City, but scaring my kids?

    • Lily carver Lily carver November 23, 2020

      Dear Mr. Schwartz,
      I am glad you can afford more taxes but as someone barely scraping by I can’t. But I can afford bus fare, which everyone should pay. Your absurd claim that the city can afford free bus and train fair is worthy of Trump and his better, cheaper, perfect healthcare proposal. Good luck getting Congress to give the MTA a fraction of its $12 billion deficit — but go ahead, promise free mass transit to win votes. As for “scaring your children,” the right to protest on public property is well established. Comparing mass transit supporters to the KKK is, in fact, ironic because they and their allies tried to stop legal protests on public property. Did I miss the protesters threatening you or your family instead of trying to bring public awareness to your hypocrisy of claiming to support working people while in fact working for yourself and your wealthy neighbors over people who actually ride the M14 bus (as you might guess I do)?

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