NYC Union Boss Who Led Transit Strike Released From Jail Early

The union president who was sent to jail for leading an illegal subway and bus strike that crippled the nation's largest mass transit system was released Friday after serving less than half his 10-day sentence.

Roger Toussaint, head of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, was greeted as he left jail by a mob of supporters chanting: "Roger! Roger! Toussaint!" A passing city bus driver honked in approval of the rally.

A judge earlier this month found Toussaint in contempt of court for leading the three-day walkout just before Christmas in violation of a state law that bars public employees from striking. Toussaint was sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $1,000.

Toussaint began serving his sentence Monday evening. The Department of Correction determined that he was eligible to have his sentence reduced for good behavior.

As he left jail, he thanked the Department of Correction and its staff for "making sure that I was afforded dignity and respect while I was incarcerated."

He also told his union members "to stand strong and firm and never allow our organization to be broken or even bullied."

Until the city, state and the country ensure that working people have a decent wage and a secure retirement, Toussaint said, "struggle and defiance and unfortunately sacrifice will occur."

The judge last week fined the 33,000-member union $2.5 million and blocked it from automatically deducting union dues from members' paychecks.

The contract dispute between the union and Metropolitan Transportation Authority that led to the three-day strike is in binding arbitration.