Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Officers Present: Officers Excused:
President – Joseph M. Romeo Steward – J. Castor
Secretary-Treasurer – John Campanella Steward – B. Chew
Vice President – John H. Cooper Jr. Steward – B. Davis
Delegate – Jami Lyles Steward – C. Gallman
Delegate – Brian Parks Steward – J. Page
Delegate – David Nickodemus Steward – S. Rollins
Steward – Robert Jackson Steward – T. Simmons
Steward – Deonne Moore
Steward – Felix Rogers
Steward – Marvin Taylor Steward – G. Sullivan
Call to Order: President Romeo opened the meeting at 7:30 p.m. and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Cyril Atkinson, a pensioner who passed away; Brother Francis McCann, a pensioner who passed away; Sister Ella McKinstry, a pensioner who passed away; Brother Michael Atkinson, whose grandfather passed away; Brother Kevin Muhammad, whose father passed away; Brother Albert Fulginiti, whose mother passed away; Sister Alexis Travis, whose father passed away; Brother Tyrone Blue, whose mother passed away; Sister Terrie Chavis, whose father passed away; Brother Raj Patel, whose father passed away; Pensioner Frank Senteneri, whose wife passed away; Pensioner Frank Senteneri Jr., whose mother passed away; our members who are ill; our troops; the victims and their families in the Orlando shooting.
Minutes: President Romeo said that the minutes were posted in all locations and asked for questions. There were none. A motion to approve the minutes for May was made by Brother David Nickodemus and seconded by Brother Marvin Taylor. Motion passed.
Financial Report: Secretary-Treasurer John Campanella read the financial report, which was also posted on the bulletin board. Brother Campanella said that he reported at last month’s meeting that there would be a pro-rated refund to our retirees from the assessment. This refund was approved by the membership and amounted to $10,657 at this point. Brother Campanella asked for questions regarding the financial report. There were none. A motion to approve the financial report for May was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother David Nickodemus. Motion passed.
Brother Campanella briefly explained the NJ State AFL-CIO convention and the ATU Cam-Am Conference that our delegates have attended for many years. A motion was made by Sister Kathy Lannon and seconded by Sister Karen Price to approve sending four delegates to the NJ State AFL-CIO Convention and the ATU Can-Am Conference. Motion passed.
Arbitration Case: President Romeo introduced Newton Ave. bus operator Paul Lancaster to the members and explained the charges against Brother Lancaster. Brother Lancaster presented his case and all questions were answered. A motion to vote was made by Brother Jim Sheil and seconded by Sister Jami Lyles. Motion passed. The results of the vote were 34 yes votes and 0 no votes. This case was approved for arbitration.
New Business: President Romeo introduced Marcia and John Goggin from AFLAC. Marcia Goggin explained AFLAC’s benefits to the members and said that they would stay until the meeting ends to answer any questions.
President Romeo told members that they should not touch any other members, even if you know them well.
President Romeo told members that the union has been advised my management that our mechanical employees are extending their breaks and are leaving their designated work areas. The company has advised the union that they will be cracking down on employees very soon. President Romeo said to please heed this warning.
President Romeo said that another bus operator was assaulted at 12:30 a.m. at the WRTC. We have viewed the video and have contacted the bus operator. Our union will stand behind every member who is assaulted. We do not want any member going to court alone. President Romeo said that he appointed Brother John Campanella to the assault committee and asked him to explain what we are trying to accomplish. Brother Campanella said that the union is working on establishing an assault protocol. We have met with upper management over this issue and have gotten a commitment from them. Acting Executive Director Dennis Martin sent a letter to every county prosecutor explaining the bus operator assault law. We have attended many court proceedings where neither the prosecutor nor the judge were aware of this law. We have printed cards, which will be handed out shortly, that gives some tips on handling assaults and has the actual law printed on the reverse side. One of the things we have found is that many operators do not know how to manually activate the camera. It is important to learn how to activate the camera. If assaulted, you should activate the camera immediately when you are able to do so. We have requested that the DAG’s office get involved in operator assaults by seeing the cases through the court system to make sure the proper charges are filed. To the best of our knowledge, they have refused to get involved in assaults. However, the DAG’s office is there defending NJT in arbitration cases and lawsuits. We want them to be there when a NJT employee is assaulted. These are some of the things that we are working on with NJT. Our International Union was able to convince federal legislators to address bus operator assaults in the upcoming federal transportation bill.
A member said that NJT used to have a button next to the bus operator to activate the camera but they removed it. Brother Campanella said that operators can activate the camera with their feet or they can push the blue button on the side of the camera. Remember, if there is an altercation on your bus, use the button to record the altercation. You can push the button multiple times to record events. President Romeo said that our union is not going to stand for our members getting assaulted. We are very concerned for their safety and are working on the issue.
President Romeo said that copies of the minutes for May’s meeting are on the table if anyone wants a copy. May’s meeting is where we approved the bylaw changes.
President Romeo told members that we finally have our old phone numbers back for the Union. Our numbers are 856-931-1488 and 856-931-1489. Our fax number is 856-931-2285.
President Romeo said that our State Council and our local union got involved in the Verizon strike. We did what we could to support our brothers and sisters from the IBEW and CWA. Of course our union cannot strike because of legislation. We continue to work until another contract is either negotiated or arbitrated. The Verizon employees went many weeks without pay until their unions were able to negotiate with Verizon.
President Romeo said that Egg Harbor Twp. buses are now equipped with the three minute idling shut-down mode. Buses will shut-down after idling for three minutes. Report any problems, such as the buses shutting down while moving, to management and the union.
President Romeo asked Mechanical Delegate Brian Parks to explain the TAP program. Brother Parks explained the TAP program stands for the Technician Apprentice Program. It was awarded in the recent contract arbitration where the company and union must negotiate a training program to keep up with changing technology. We are working on the length of the program, the total curriculum and the possibility of pay differentials. One of our main concerns is protecting seniority. We are also working on reducing the waiting time in taking mechanical tests, allowing employees to participate even if they failed out of the previous program, and we are working on a provision for incapacitated mechanical employees where they can move into cleaning positions if they are not medically qualified to carry a CDL.
President Romeo said that UNUM will be dropping NJT employees because they are losing money. However, Transamerica will be picking up UNUM’s clients and we are being told that the coverage may be better and the cost lower. We will have to wait and see.
President Romeo said that our union delegates will be in the garages at the end of the month for a COPE drive. Cope is a voluntary donation from members’ paychecks and the donations are used to support politicians who support unions and mass transportation. It is very important that we remain politically involved. The money is used for good causes. We need to protect our jobs. Please donate what you can afford to give each month. Brother Dave Nickodemus said that we are a political football. NJT was created with a stroke of a pen and can be eliminated with the stroke of a pen. Brother Campanella said that the Cope program is a strictly voluntary program. Local 880 does not use any of your union dues for political donations because many union members have different political views. Cope donations are deducted on a monthly basis and the money is sent directly to our International Union. The International Union uses 50% of the donations to donate to politicians that they deem necessary to support. The other 50% is allotted to local unions to be used to support politicians that the local union deems necessary to support. President Romeo said that we need to be politically involved. Sister Jami Lyles said that when she was a shop steward she did not want to donate to politicians. But when she became a delegate and got to meet these politicians and see what they do, she became a supporter. If it were not for these politicians, we would be in trouble. Even if you can only afford one dollar, every little bit helps. Please try to spread the word. This program benefits everyone. President Romeo said that this is a strictly voluntary program and we do not use union dues for political donations.
Brother John Campanella said that at last month’s meeting the members approved revising our bylaws. We are now waiting for our International Union to concur. We expect to get approval this month, so the bylaw changes will take effect on July 1, 2016. Since members are getting a raise in July, our union dues will be rising by one-dollar in accordance with our bylaws and the International Constitution. Brother Campanella said that according to the International Constitution, the minimum union dues a local union can charge effective July 1st, is $56.20 per month. Our union dues will be $59 per month. So our dues are only $2.80 per month higher than the minimum that we are allowed to charge. So if any member thinks our dues are exorbitant, please remind them of this fact.
A member said that there are programming issues with the signs in the buses. President Romeo said that he is not aware, but asked the member to notify him with the bus numbers and he will address the issue. President Romeo said that we just addressed an issue where a light was shining up from the floor in the MCI’s and it was distracting the operator. We found out that molding is missing that goes around the steering column and the issue is being addressed.
A member said that many of the radios on the MCI’s are not working or out of range. It is not just one bus; it is many. President Romeo said that the company cannot get parts for these radios. The newer buses will be using the clever-cad system. So continue to write-up defects on these buses to protect yourself. Also, do not use your cell phones. The company should have radios that work.
A member said that the control center is screaming the PA announcements over the radios. You cannot understand what they are saying because it is too loud. It is distracting. Some of the control center operators are very rude as well. President Romeo said that he is aggressively pursuing every complaint about a rude regional supervisor. But he needs to be made aware of the date and time of each incident. President Romeo said that management wants us to treat them with respect, and they need to treat us with respect. So he will address every complaint.
A member said that members are posting on Facebook pictures of themselves in the seat of the buses. President Romeo said that we monitor Facebook. When we see something that could get a member in trouble, we call them and advise them to remove the posting.
A member from the EHT shop said that all the mechanic positions are not being filled. We have had three mechanics retire and the company has not filled their jobs. Brother Brian Parks said that he spoke with the shop steward and management informed him that they will fill the positions when they deem necessary. Brother Parks said that we cannot force them to fill the positions. President Romeo said that he is constantly urging the director to fill open positions and he has been successful in getting some positions filled. This member asked to speak with the president privately. President Romeo said that they can speak after the meeting.
Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Robert Jackson. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:44 p.m.
Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Hope to see you there.