Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Officers Present: Officers Excused:
President – Stephen P. Knestaut Delegate – F. Olive
Secretary-Treasurer – John Campanella Steward – J. Castor
Vice President – Raymond Cappy Steward – A. Morgan
Delegate – Joseph Romeo Steward – C. Reynolds
Delegate – Gabe Sullivan Steward – S. Rollins
Steward – Bruce Chew
Steward – Jami Lyles
Steward – Joseph Marks
Steward – Deonne Moore
Steward – Felix Rogers
Steward – Timothy J. Simmons
Steward – Marvin Taylor
Steward – Chris Walton
Call to Order: President Knestaut opened the meeting at 7:30 p.m. and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Marty Egan, a pensioner who passed away; Sister Maria Perez, whose sister passed away; Brother Bernie Kennedy, whose father and aunt passed away; Brother Anthony Knight, whose brother passed away; Brother Frank Olive, whose very close friend’s father passed away; our soldiers.
On a happy note: Brother Gabe Sullivan’s wife gave birth to a baby boy named Logan.
Minutes: President Knestaut said that the minutes for July were posted in all locations and asked for questions. There were none. A motion to accept the minutes was made by Brother Gabe Sullivan and seconded by Brother Bruce Chew. Motion passed.
Financial Report: Secretary-Treasurer John Campanella read the financial report, which was also posted on the bulletin board, and asked for questions. There were none. A motion to accept the financial report was made by Brother Gabe Sullivan and seconded by Brother Marvin Taylor. Motion passed.
Arbitration Case: Brother Kevon Reynolds presented his case for arbitration and answered all questions. A motion to vote was made by Brother Felix Rogers and seconded by Sister Jami Lyles. Motion passed. The result of the vote was 42 yes votes and 0 no votes. This case is approved for arbitration.
Brother James Bost presented his case for arbitration and answered all questions. A motion to vote was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Cordell Boyd. Motion passed. The result of the vote was 39 yes votes and 2 no votes. This case is approved for arbitration.
President Knestaut reminded members that school is open so please be careful.
President Knestaut told members that Brother Joseph Middleton’s arbitration case is scheduled for October 1st and Brother Archie Carr’s arbitration case is scheduled for October 22nd. If anyone is waiting for a second step hearing, please call the union hall. Third step hearings are scheduled for September 12th. Please call the union hall if you are waiting for a third step.
President Knestaut told members that Local 822 has the second part of the 70 hour case is in arbitration. Please file your grievances if you were taken off your job due to 70 hours and not paid the remainder of your job.
President Knestaut said that he has been promised that six wireless cameras will be installed in the Newton Ave. employees’ parking lot.
President Knestaut said that there is a rally in NY City on Sunday, September 21st. The rally is for green initiatives. Brother Marvin Taylor, who attended the informational meeting with Brother Joe Marks, gave a brief explanation of the rally. Brother Taylor said that initiative is promoting a cleaner environment. One way to help the environment is to get more automobiles off the road through mass transportation. The rally is mentioned on Facebook and flyers will be posted. If anyone can attend the rally, please call the union hall.
President Knestaut gave an update on the contract. The sticking point is over the prescription plan. The company wants the employees to pay 15% of the prescription costs. We need more information in order to make a decision. A member asked what else was in the proposal. President Knestaut said that the company wants the employees to pay another 1% into the pension plan, they want to eliminate Lincoln’s Birthday and replace it with a paid sick day, they want to eliminate perfect attendance and replace it with a paid sick day, they want to change the attendance policy to 22 hits in two years. Brother TJ Simmons said that he heard that all State employees are going to be given six sick days per year. President Knestaut said that he checked on this issue and was told it does not apply to union employees working under a contract. A member asked about the misses. President Knestaut said that misses will count as two hits after an employee receives five misses. A member asked if there was any good in this contract. President Knestaut said yes, there will be pay raises and retro pay. The $5 co-pay will continue. It will be a seven year contract. If the details get worked out, we hope that we can bring this back to the members for a vote. A member asked for another explanation of the attendance policy. President Knestaut explained that the policy covers 22 hits in two years.
Brother John Campanella told the members that at next month’s union meeting, there will be nominations for the upcoming election of union officers. Elections are held every three years for every union position. Union members need to be in good standing for two years in order to run for a union position. The election this year will be done by a ballot box system and voting will take place in the garages. The mail-in system has been eliminated. It is very important that every union member understands the election process because whoever is elected will be the union representatives for the next three years. Brother Campanella also said that there is a rumor going around that he retired; he is not retired. A member asked where nominations will take place. Vice President Ray Cappy told members that nominations will take place at the next union meeting. The voting will take place in December at the garages. At the conclusion of the voting in each location, the ballot boxes will be opened and counted at that location. Candidates can have observers present in each location to observe the counting of the ballots. When the ballots are counted, the tallies will be phoned into the union hall where the tallies will be totaled. If any candidate does not get 50% of the votes plus one, there will be a runoff the following week between the top two candidates. Members will receive a letter in the mail notifying them of the election process. Members do not need to be present at the meeting to be nominated; another member may nominate them. Members can nominate themselves and they do not need a second nomination. President Knestaut told the members to make sure the union hall has their correct addresses for the election.
Brother TJ Simmons asked if the bylaws can be changed to allow that only the mechanical employees can vote for the mechanical delegate. Brother John Campanella said that Brother Simmons is referring to the election of the three delegates. On the ballot there will be positions for an Operators’ Delegate, a Mechanical Delegate, and a Field Salary Delegate. All the union members will vote for candidates running for these positions because these delegates represent the entire membership in contract negotiations and at the International Convention. Brother Simmons believes that it is unfair, and he has a point, that all union members vote for the Mechanical Delegate. Brother Simmons feels that only the mechanical employees should vote for the Mechanical Delegate because there are more bus operators than mechanical employees, so the bus operators will influence the vote for a candidate from the mechanical department. The bylaws would have to be changed to accomplish this and the change cannot conflict with the International Constitution. Therefore, in this election, every member will have the opportunity to vote for all three delegates. Brother Bruce Chew asked if it would be possible to have this changed by the next meeting. Brother Campanella said no, because you need two union meetings to pass a bylaw proposal. The proposal is read at the first meeting and then read again, debated and voted on at the second meeting. Then if the bylaw proposal passes, it must be approved by the International Union. President Knestaut asked if there were any more questions regarding the upcoming election. There were none.
A member asked why Brother Boydo’s job is not up for bid under the long term sick agreement. President Knestaut said that he brought this issue up with Carl Pulaski and will push the issue if Brother Boydo is going to be out much longer.
A member asked why the contract cannot be changed to allow us to strike. President Knestaut said that the contract does not address strikes. Sister Jami Lyles researched this issue months ago and found the legislation. Sister Lyles said that NJ Transit was formed through legislation and part of the legislation took away the right to strike. It can only be changed through legislation.
A member said that she has a problem with the residency law. Part-timers living in Philadelphia are not getting enough hours at work to make it worthwhile for them to move to New Jersey. She said that she saw two letters threatening to discharge two employees if they do not move. Some depot masters are giving their buddies the hours and these part-timers nothing. This is unfair and needs to be addressed. President Knestaut said that he tells part-timers that the depot master “A” is not the only person assigning work so leave your name with the other depot masters as well. This member said that everybody is not fair and these part-timers should be a priority. Brother Campanella said that employees who live out-of-state need to contact the union hall for instructions on how to file an exemption from this law. Some members have been successful getting exemptions from moving. A member asked who is grandfathered. Brother Campanella said that anyone hired before September 1, 2011 does not have to move to New Jersey. However, members cannot move out of state without an exemption. A member said that the legislature is trying to repeal this law.
A member said that managers from the Cherry Hill and Moorestown Malls have been calling the company reporting bus operators who leave their buses running over 5 minutes. President Knestaut said that the malls have a right to kick us off their property. This operator said that bus operators are being told they can get a five-day suspension. President Knestaut said that he is not aware. A member said there was a convenient bathroom to use and the layover spot is too far away. President Knestaut said to go to the layover point, secure your bus, and then walk back to the restroom. Vice President Ray Cappy said that he is not aware of anyone being written up for using the restroom.
Brother Felix Rogers told operators that NJ Transit can track the bus in real-time using GPS. They can tell if the bus is on or off. They can tell exactly what route operators used and can go back in time to check. He wants everyone to be aware of this technology. Brother Rogers said that buses were kicked off other commercial properties before and it can happen again.
Brother Rogers said that he mentioned at an earlier meeting something about members doing their jobs, which was misconstrued. He did not mean that members are not doing their jobs. He wanted members to familiarize themselves with the rules and policies so they navigate between them. As far as going to the bathroom, you have to notify the control center before you use the bathroom. Sister Jami Lyles also reminded members that the control center can see when operators are running early, late, off-route, etc. So it can be easy to get caught in a lie. A member said a customer complained that she left a bus stop early and management brought her into the office and showed her the offense from six months ago. NJT can also see what you are doing on the buses. Co-workers can ruin it for everyone by laying-over in spots not allowed.
Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Cordell Boyd. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m.
Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. Hope to see you there.