Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Officers Present: Officers Excused:
President – Stephen P. Knestaut Delegate – J. Romeo
Secretary-Treasurer – John Campanella Delegate – F. Olive Jr.
Vice President – Raymond Cappy Delegate – G. Sullivan
Steward – Joseph Marks Steward – J. Castor
Steward – Deonne Moore Steward – J. Lyles
Steward – Felix Rogers Steward – A. Morgan
Steward – Marvin Taylor Steward – C. Reynolds
Steward – S. Rollins
Steward – T. J. Simmons
Steward – C. Walton
Call to Order: President Knestaut told the members at 7:40 p.m. that due to a lack of quorum, we could not hold an official meeting or conduct official union business. There will be a discussion.
Moment of Silence: President Knestaut asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother John Cromley, a pensioner who passed away; Brother Almet Thomas, a recent pensioner who passed away; Brother Diane Lewis, whose husband passed away; Sister Sharon Taylor-Lingo, whose mother passed away; Brother Ira Lingo, whose mother-in-law passed away; Brother Eddie Gonzalez, whose niece passed away from an auto accident; Brother Jose Gonzalez, whose niece passed away from an auto accident; Brother Carmen Mazzagatti, an Egg Harbor Twp. bus operator who is recovering from a serious bus accident; Brother Chester Brown, whose sister passed away; our troops.
Arbitration Case: Brother Derek Gilbert was in attendance to present his arbitration case to the members. However, due to a lack of quorum, a vote could not be taken. Therefore in accordance with section 13.3 of the International Constitution, the decision of the Executive Board not to take Brother Gilbert’s case to arbitration becomes final.
Discussion: President Knestaut said that the 316 Line (Summer Wildwood Service) work will be given to the Newton Ave. and Egg Harbor for the summer. Washington Twp. will not receive any of the work because of manpower shortages.
President Knestaut said that third step hearings will be held on June 20th and second step hearings will be held on June 25th. The arbitration case for Brother Frank Robinson only took one day so President Knestaut said that he told NJT that he would mention in the minutes that this case only took one day because he mentioned last month that NJT drags arbitration cases on into multiple days.
President Knestaut said that the mechanical overtime arbitration has been rescheduled to September 30th. NJT changed attorneys and needs time to prepare. President Knestaut said that a meeting was held at the union hall with the union’s attorney to come up with a settlement to present to NJT before reaching arbitration.
President Knestaut said that our International Union held a training session for union officers at our union hall for officers from Local 880 and Local 842. The training session went very well and there will be future training sessions that will be open to all union members.
President Knestaut said that a grievance for violation of the nepotism policy regarding the Newton Ave. mechanical department has been denied at the third step and has been entered for a fourth step.
President Knestaut said that Academy Bus is running a shuttle from Philadelphia to the WRTC because of work on the tracks. President Knestaut said that he is still looking into this issue but as long as PATCO is paying the bill, they can hire who they wish. We lost this case before when PATCO did this a few years ago.
Vice President Ray Cappy told the members that a few months ago the members approved to change the voting procedures for the election of union officers. Our International Union has approved the changes but they offered some suggestions. Brother Cappy read the letter from our International President Larry Hanley. Brother Cappy read each suggestion and told the members how our by-laws address each suggestion.
Brother John Campanella asked if anyone had any questions because there are a lot of rumors floating around regarding the status of the union, the finances and the contract.
A member asked if the union dues are being raised. Brother Campanella said that the union dues are not going up at this point. Our International Union has raised the per capita tax $1.50 per member beginning this July and another $1.50 per member next July. We are going to try and absorb the increase as long as possible but we will not be able to absorb both increases without raising the dues. Hopefully, this damn contract will be settled and everyone will receive a raise and we can adjust the dues at that time. Over the last twelve years we have built up a reserve in our funds. This reserve is shrinking and we are trying to hold on as long as possible without raising the dues. One way we can help replenish our funds is by assessing for all legal bills. Assessing for arbitrations has been in our by-laws for many years. We have not assessed in the last twelve years because we were able to run this union on the current dues structure. President Knestaut said that the delegates also agreed not to attend the Can-Am conference this year which will save the union money.
A member said that we should not send members to arbitration when they lie to the membership when they present their cases. President Knestaut said that our Executive Board members can ask more questions, but, this is how our by-laws are set up for arbitration cases.
A member said that Local 819 assesses their members $10 per month for arbitration cases. President Knestaut said that we have been fortunate that we have not had to do that in the last twelve years. A member said that if we start assessing for arbitration cases, maybe the members will pay more attention and vote on the facts.
Brother John Campanella said that we built up a reserve in our funds that is now being depleted. If our funds continue to drop we will inform the members at the meetings and discuss possible solutions.
A member asked for a contract update. President Knestaut said that our State Council Chairman and IVP have a meeting scheduled with the company soon. A member said that he thought the arbitration must be completed in 45 days. President Knestaut said that is once you put in for arbitration, but, the union has not applied for arbitration yet. A member said that the MTA in New York got a decent contract and an arbitrator should look at their contract. This member said that we should start getting politically active. President Knestaut said that we have been trying.
A member asked if the no-strike clause is permanent or can we get the right to strike back. President Knestaut said that he has always been under the impression that once you lose something you can never get it back. A member said that he was here when NJT was formed. The no-strike clause was placed in legislation when NJ Transit was formed and explained the formation of NJ Transit.
A member asked if there was legal counsel that could come in and advise the body of the union of what tactics can be taken to deal with the current contract situation. This issue was discussed further.
A member said that we should have taken some action against NJ Transit during the Super Bowl. Brother John Campanella said that NJ Transit had enough problems with the Super Bowl in which the media blasted them for poor planning and execution. If our union did anything to hurt the Super Bowl, NJ Transit would have blamed everything that went wrong on the union. Since our members did a great job with the Super Bowl, NJ Transit could only blame themselves. This issue was discussed further.
Brother Felix Rogers told the members that recently attended a ATU Training Seminar in Chicago. Brother Rogers said that the main message at the seminar was to look forward and form alliances with our passengers. If we strike then our customers will feel the pain more than the company. Brother Rogers continued to explain some ways that we can come together to work for a unified goal.
Sister Deonne Moore said that the training seminar stressed for unions to form alliances with customers. However, some of our operators treat the customers poorly. We cannot treat our customers poorly and expect them to help us. We need to be courteous to the customers. We are all customers at some point, whether it is a supermarket or a gas station and we want to be treated courteously. We need to gain the trust, loyalty and respect from our customers.
A member, who is a retire police officer, said that the Governor is not going to pay the money that is due to the police and firefighters’ pension plan. This may filter down to our pensions. The Governor does not like pensions and is pushing for 401K plans for everyone. The Star-Ledger reported that there are problems with pensions across the state. We need to stick together and fight to keep our pensions. Brother Campanella told the members that new employees hired into management after 2007 do not have pensions. Brother Campanella also said that if the republicans gain control, New Jersey will be a right to work state. Brother Ray Cappy said that there is legislation in Pennsylvania to make it a right to work state. In a right to work state, employees do not have to join a union. Unions are the ones who fought for most of the working rights that employees have today.
Sister Deonne Moore said that privatization is knocking on our door. There are companies who are soliciting transportation agencies in an effort to privatize services. Sister Moore said some garages are having problems filling work. A member said that there are plenty of bus operators in Newton Ave. who will work overtime but Newton Ave. keeps telling other garages they do not have the manpower. They have the manpower; they just do not want to fill the work. This issue was discussed further.
Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Hope to see you there.