Tuesday, January 12, 2016
10 AM Meeting
Secretary-Treasurer – John Campanella
Delegate – Brian Parks
Call to Order: Secretary-Treasurer John Campanella opened the meeting at 10 AM and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Arnold Lyles, a pensioner who passed away; Brother Aikida Webb, an active member who passed away; Brother Bruce Jackson, an active member who passed away; Brother Louis Cheever, whose wife passed away; Brother Brian Beals, whose brother passed away; Sister Cheryl D’Amico, whose daughter passed away; Brother John Sanford, whose mother passed away; Sister Jami Lyles, whose father passed away; Brother Darryl Thompson, whose mother-in-law passed away; Brother Norman Darden, whose brother passed away; Sister Velesha Redd, whose father passed away; Brother Clarence Morrow, whose mother passed away.
Brother Campanella announced that President Romeo is holding second step hearings this morning and was unable to make the morning meeting. There is a deadline now to hold hearings under the new grievance procedure.
Motion to Suspend Business: A motion was made by Brother Chad Henszey and seconded by Sister Mychelle Robinson to suspend normal business and proceed directly to the arbitration cases.
Arbitration Case: Brother Campanella introduced Brother Anthony Bradley and explained the circumstances of his case. Brother Bradley explained his case and all questions were answered. A motion to vote was made by Brother Jim Hannon and seconded by Sister Lori Hairston-Pridgen. Motion passed. The ballots were collected from 18 members and sealed in an envelope. Brother Bradley signed his name across the seal. The ballots will be opened at the evening meeting and included in the total of the evening vote.
Brother Campanella introduced Sister Tammy Ross-Caffee and explained the circumstances of her case. Sister Ross-Caffee explained her case and all questions were answered. A motion to vote was made by Brother Jim Hannon and seconded by Brother James Love. Motion passed. The ballots were collected from 23 members and sealed in an envelope. Sister Ross-Caffee signed her name across the seal. The ballots will be opened at the evening meeting and included in the total of the evening vote.
One member arrived while the voting was still taking place for Sister Ross-Caffee’s case. A motion was made by Sister Mychelle Robinson and seconded by Brother Sheldon Brown to allow this member to vote. Motion passed.
(Note: A few members arrived after the close of the vote for Brother Bradley. However, they did vote on Sister Ross-Caffee’s case.)
New Business: Brother Campanella reported that Brother Felix Rogers notified the union that the Nabi buses with the new idling software have been shutting down while in gear. President Romeo addressed this issue with management and new software was installed to prevent this from happening. Sister Mychelle Robinson reported that she was operating bus number 5364 and the bus shut down while she was in gear and moving. Brother Campanella said that he will report this issue to the mechanical department.
A member complained that it is winter and bus operators with long layovers are freezing because they have to shut the buses down after three minutes. Brother Campanella said that he will discuss this issue with President Romeo.
Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Brother Chad Henszey and seconded by Brother Sean Moody. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 10:25 a.m.
Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 9, 2016. Hope to see you there.
Tuesday, January 12, 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 – J. Page
Delegate – Brian Parks Steward – S. Rollins
Delegate – David Nickodemus
Steward – Corey Gallman
Steward – Robert Jackson
Steward – Deonne Moore
Steward – Anthony Morgan
Steward – Felix Rogers
Steward – Timothy J. Simmons
Steward – Marvin Taylor
7:30 PM Meeting
Call to Order: President Romeo opened the meeting at 7:30 p.m. and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Arnold Lyles, a pensioner who passed away; Brother Aikida Webb, an active member who passed away; Brother Bruce Jackson, an active member who passed away; Brother Louis Cheever, whose wife passed away; Brother Brian Beals, whose brother passed away; Sister Cheryl D’Amico, whose daughter passed away; Brother John Sanford, whose mother passed away; Sister Jami Lyles, whose father passed away; Brother Darryl Thompson, whose mother-in-law passed away; Brother Norman Darden, whose brother passed away; Sister Velesha Redd, whose father passed away; Brother Clarence Morrow, whose mother passed away; Brother Arthur Folks, whose grandfather passed away.
Motion to change order of business: A motion was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Dave Nickodemus to change the order of business tonight and begin with the arbitration cases. Motion passed.
Arbitration Case: President Romeo introduced Brother Anthony Bradley and explained the circumstances surrounding his case. Brother Bradley explained his case and all questions were answered. A motion to vote was made by Brother Felix Rogers and seconded by Sister Jami Lyles. Motion passed. The results of the vote were 71 yes votes and 5 no votes. This case is approved for arbitration. (Note: At the morning meeting 18 members voted and the ballots were sealed in an envelope to be included in the vote at the evening meeting.)
President Romeo introduced Sister Tammy Ross-Caffee and explained the circumstances surrounding her case. Sister Ross-Caffee explained her case and all questions were answered. A motion to vote was made by Brother Timothy Simmons and seconded by Brother Jose Franceschi. Motion passed. The results of the vote were 73 yes votes and 5 no votes. This case is approved for arbitration. (Note: At the morning meeting 21 members voted and the ballots were sealed in an envelope to be included in the vote at the evening meeting.)
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 December 2015 was made by Brother Dave 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, and asked for questions. There were none. A motion to approve the financial report for December 2015 was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Brian Crawford. Motion passed.
Brother Campanella said that the reason our income was so large last month was because of the $150 assessment to help pay for the contract expenses. Our battle over the contract depleted our funds and the assessment was needed to build up our funds for future battles.
Brother Campanella also explained that he and President Romeo worked over the weekend to issue refunds from the assessment to our members who were not members for the full five years. At our December meeting, the members approved giving a refund of $2.50 per month to these members. The checks were sent out in January for a total of $9,257. Since the checks were paid in January, the members will see this deduction on next month’s financial report. President Romeo said that Local 880 was the only local union to issue these refunds from the assessment. The officers and members thought that it was the right thing to do.
New Business: Brother John Campanella said that we have had bus operators assaulted and harassed over the years and something needed to be done to address these issues. Local 880 expressed to NJ Transit that both the union and the company need to support our members who are assaulted. State Council Chairman Ray Greaves arranged a meeting with NJ Transit’s top management. At that meeting, Local 880 explained our concerns about a recent assault that went unpunished because of the lack of cooperation from NJ Transit. Brother Campanella said that he and President Romeo try to attend every court case where a member was assaulted or harassed. We do not want our members facing their assailants or harassers alone. We also suggested that someone from management should be attending these court cases as well. Vice President and General Manager Dennis Martin gave us his word that he will produce a standard protocol that management must follow whenever a member is assaulted. Brother Campanella explained a few recent cases and the outcomes. President Romeo said that we are going to be more proactive and are not going to tolerate our members being assaulted and nothing being done about it. NJ Transit’s top management agrees that something needs to be done to support employees who are harassed or assaulted.
Brother Campanella said that this Friday, the assailant that severely beat EHT bus operator Ronald Trusty unconscious is being sentenced. If anyone recalls, Brother Willie Houston who was on his way home from work, stopped his car to assist Brother Trusty because something did not look right. The assailant ran away and Brother Houston found Brother Trusty lying unconscious in the grass. Brother Campanella said that he and President Romeo will be at the sentencing on Friday. President Romeo said that if anyone wants to attend in support of Brother Trusty, the sentencing will be at 8:45 a.m. on Friday at the Atlantic County Criminal Justice Complex on Unami Blvd. in Mays Landing. President Romeo said that we are addressing assaults of bus operators and you will have the union’s support.
A member said that he has a problem with the sign on the bus that says if you assault a bus operator, you will be sentenced to five years in jail. Brother Campanella said that law was fought for many years ago by then Local 880 president Joe Ripa and Delegate Dave Nickodemus. However, the law says assailants will be sentenced “up to” five years and we have not found a judge yet that has sentenced anyone close to five years. A member said that the sign is on the buses and the union fought for it, and then asked – Is New Jersey Transit stepping up and filing charges against these individuals? Brother Campanella said that is why we have met with top management to request that they become more involved when an operator is assaulted. President Romeo said that the sign does serve a purpose as a deterrent. President Romeo said that he has contacted our members who have been assaulted to let them know that they have the union’s support. A member asked if they have to hire their own attorney when they press charges. Brother Campanella said that when an operator is assaulted and they press charges, the State takes over the case, and the charge is listed as the State of NJ versus the assailant’s name. President Romeo said that he personally asked Operator Ross-Caffee if she wanted to press charges and she said no because she and her baby are fine.
Brother Campanella said that a passenger wearing a backpack, dreadlocks, and walks with a cane has been harassing female bus operators. His name is Nasir Finneman. If anyone is harassed by Mr. Finneman, a report needs to be filed immediately. Also, let the union know if you are harassed. He has been found guilty in Cherry Hill court of harassing Operator Blanche Farmer. He is not allowed to ride her bus or have any contact with her. So if you are being harassed, please notify the control center, notify the union and file a written report. We want this man banned from every bus where he causes a disturbance. Members are not filing reports when they are harassed. President Romeo said that it is very important to document these types of problems. The first thing the company or police will ask is if you filed a report each time you had a problem.
A member said that there are certain customers that make it a point to harass or file complaints against bus operators. President Romeo said that the company is well aware of these individuals. This member asked if there is any way we could start a petition to prevent these individuals from riding the buses. President Romeo said that there is an operator who has been discharged because one of these chronic complainers filed a complaint against this operator. President Romeo said that operators need to document each issue to build a record against these individuals. Brother Campanella suggested that operators fill out both occurrence reports and unenforced rule cards, because the unenforced rule cards have a way of getting lost. Brother Campanella said that one of the biggest issues we asked for at the meeting over operator assaults is that the union is notified by management of every assault and provided all the reports of the assault. Brother Corey Gallman said that some operators have told regional supervisors that they do not feel safe with a particular passenger and the regional supervisor allows the person to stay on the bus. Brother Gallman asked if a policy can be put in place that when an operator says that they do not feel safe, then the company must address their concern. President Romeo said that recently a bus operator told a regional supervisor that he did not feel safe with a particular passenger so the regional supervisor followed the bus until the passenger got off. President Romeo said that this occurred after Operator Trusty’s incident, so NJ Transit is listening. This is part of the resolve that the union is requesting, that NJT treat an operator’s safety concern in a serious and respectful manner. President Romeo said that if an operator feels unsafe, they should pull over and notify the control center. Also, call the union hall if the concern for your safety is not being addressed by the company.
A member said that passengers are getting on the bus and telling the operator that they are not going to pay. The other customers are hearing this and they are upset that they have to pay. President Romeo said that if you have a combative or disruptive passenger, it needs to be reported immediately to the control center. It needs to be documented and the information needs to be given to the union hall.
A member asked if the guy with a cane is banned from all the buses. President Romeo said he is only banned from the bus operator’s bus that he harassed. But if more operators will file reports when this person causes trouble, we may be able to get him banned from other buses. We need ammunition.
President Romeo said that several bus operators have called him about the idling of buses in the winter when they have long breaks. President Romeo said that if you have a long break, idle the bus for three minutes then shut it down. Then start the bus back up when it starts to get cold and idle for another three minutes. But be aware of your surroundings. The excessive idling fines have seemed to stop. Keep yourself as warm as you can.
President Romeo said that at the Newton Ave. garage, the supervisors are giving misses if you do not report for work by the five minute mark. It is a miss if you are late. However, these supervisors are allowing some operators to work while sending other operators home. Also at Newton Ave. they are giving bus operators direct orders to go to work after they receive a miss. If you receive a direct order to go to work, then go to work. We do not want to see anyone discharged for refusing a direct order. If you know you are going to be late and you do not want to work, then do not go into the dayroom; just call out unavailable. This issue is being addressed by our State Council chairman Ray Greaves. Also, President Romeo said that he will be meeting with the supervisors to discuss this issue. Brother Corey Gallman told members do not try and negotiate with the supervisors by saying that you will come in if they do not give you a miss. That is telling management that you are available to work and they will give you a direct order to come to work. Brother Campanella said to let the union fight the battle whether the company can give direct orders to work after receiving a miss. These battles are not decided quickly; they take some time to address. In the meantime, go to work if you are given a direct order. President Romeo said that we are addressing this issue but it will take some time.
President Romeo said that the company originally told the union that the retro checks for retirees will be paid in the second week in January. Now, the company is saying that they are unable to complete the retro checks as originally proposed. So we are telling the retirees to call the union hall if they do not receive their checks by the end of January. (Note: Since the union meeting, NJT has notified the union that the retro checks for retirees will be paid on April 1, 2016.)
President Romeo opened the floor for questions. A member said that NJT paid the retro checks to the active members but did not offer any proof that the pay is correct. We are just taking their word that they are correct. This member said that his pay is off four cents, and that adds up to $832 per year. This member said that payroll will not answer questions and they hang up on the members. President Romeo said that payroll is overwhelmed right now because they are working on the W-2’s and the retro checks for the retirees. Brother Campanella said that NJT paid approximately 5,000 employees retro pay based on their computer system. We do not know whether the checks are right or wrong, but Brother Campanella said that he has been reviewing members’ retro pays and found most of them to be fairly accurate based on the information that the members provided. This is an issue for our state council chairman since it affects all eight local unions. The state council needs to decide whether they are going to request a printout for all 5,000 employees. President Romeo said that we will look at any retro checks that the members feel are incorrect. President Romeo also said that payroll is overwhelmed with work. It is harder to calculate the retiree’s retro checks because they have been taken out of the payroll system when they retired. This member asked if the union is investigating the pay scales. President Romeo said that we will be happy to address any member who thinks his or her pay scale is incorrect. This member said that incorrect pay scales will affect our pensions when we are ready to retire. Brother Campanella said that the union does not have access to our members’ payroll records. President Romeo said that if anyone has all their payroll records, we will be happy to look at them.
A member asked if new employees being hired have a pension or a 401K plan. President Romeo said that new employees are not covered under the pension plan until they become permanent full-time employees. They are a lot of benefits that new employees are not entitled to until they pass certain milestones. Brother Campanella said that all permanent full-time employees will pay into our pension plan. The union did not lose pensions for new employees. There is no 401K plan for new employees. Also, our union is looking into whether NJT can avoid offering medical benefits to the provisional full-time employees.
A member asked if the money that NJT set aside in 2010 for the contract was put into an escrow account. President Romeo said that he does not know what amount, if any, that NJT set aside for the contract and retro pay. This member said that when there are disagreements, money is put into an escrow account until the matter is settled and asked if NJT put money in an escrow account. Brother Campanella said that he would highly doubt if NJT put any money into an escrow account. First of all, neither side would know what the raises will be until the contract is settled. Therefore, NJT would not know how much money to set aside. The union did not request that any money be put into an escrow account.
A member asked why we have holiday pick. This member said that he took a job that 191 people passed up, but because that job pays over 10 hours on a holiday, he got bumped off the job for the holiday. The holiday pick only benefits the top 50 operators in the garage. He has his money budgeted for his family based on his picked assignment and now he gets bumped off his job on holidays. This would be an unfair labor act. Brother Campanella said that holiday picks have been agreed to by the union and the company. Before the holiday picks went into effect, we used the “fall-out” method, which means that if a holiday fell on your regular work day and your actual run number worked, then you worked that run. However, if your run number did not work on a holiday and it was your regular day to work, you would be marked up for an assignment by reverse seniority. The current holiday pick has been in effect for approximately 10 years. This member asked if we have an unfair labor practice because operators are being forced off their jobs on holidays. Brother Campanella said that he does not see an unfair labor practice since the union agreed to it. However, on a different topic, NJT is not allowing bus operators who are out long-term sick to bid runs, particularly in the Newton Ave. garage. They are passing the bus operators who are out sick. This member said that these operators should not be allowed to pick runs if they are out long-term sick. Brother Campanella said that when operators are passed on the bid and they come back to work in the middle of the change, they have the right to bump any employee below them in seniority. This can happen multiple times during a pick if more than one bus operator returns to work. Therefore, members who pick their runs for an entire change are not guaranteed that they will keep that run. Members need to make plans for things such as babysitters, school, and coordinate work hours with their spouses, etc. Now when a sick employee returns, they can bump them off their run and a member who has Sunday and Monday off, may end up with Tuesday and Wednesday off. The union does not want bus operators passed on bids because if could adversely affect a multiple number of members who picked their assignments for the change. A bump bid is a chain reaction. One person bumps someone, and they bump another employee and so on until the bump bid is over. President Romeo said that we want the company to fill the long-term sick runs on the holddowns and the extra board.
Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Brother Corey Gallman and seconded by Brother Marvin Taylor. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 9, 2016. Hope to see you there.