Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Officers Present: Officers Excused:
President – Joseph M. Romeo Vice President – J. Cooper
Secretary-Treasurer – John Campanella Steward – S. Rollins
Delegate – Jami Lyles Steward – T. Simmons
Delegate – Brian Parks Steward – G. Sullivan
Delegate – David Nickodemus
Steward – Jean Castor
Steward – Bruce Chew
Steward – Ben Davis
Steward – Corey Gallman
Steward – Robert Jackson
Steward – Deonne Moore
Steward – Jerome Page
Steward – Felix Rogers
Steward – Marvin Taylor
Call to Order: President Romeo opened the meeting at 7:00 p.m. and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Alfred Zakrocki, a pensioner who passed away; Brother Norman Snyder, a pensioner who passed away; Sister Joanne Douglas, whose six-week old grandson passed away; Brother Omar Higgs, whose nephew passed away; Andre Coleman, a former member whose father passed away; our members who are ill; our troops.
Minutes: Brother Campanella said that there are no minutes to approve since there was no quorum at the general membership meeting in July. Brother Campanella said that we were worried that changing the time of the meetings might be the reason for not having a quorum but as of 8:15p.m. there was still no quorum at July’s meeting. So changing the time did not affect the meeting.
Financial Report: Secretary-Treasurer John Campanella read the financial report, which was also posted on the bulletin board along with the expense reports for the delegates attending the NJ State AFL-CIO convention and the ATU Can-Am Conference. Brother Campanella explained that there was a large net loss for the month of July because the expenses for the two conferences were paid and we pre-purchased the airfare for the five delegates that will be attending the ATU International Convention, which is held every three years. Brother Campanella asked if there were any questions. A member asked how the loss for this month compares to other months. Brother Campanella said that the loss this month is not indicative of every month. We had some large one-time expenses to pay in July. Brother Campanella asked if there were any other questions. There were none. A motion to accept the financial report of July was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother James Hannon. Motion passed.
Brother Campanella said that since we did not have a quorum last month to approve a new grill for the cookouts, we purchase a grill for $160. Brother Campanella asked for a motion to approve this purchase. A motion was made by Sister Karen Ramer and seconded by Brother James Hannon to approve the purchase of a new grill. Motion passed.
Arbitration Case: President Romeo introduced Brother Ivan Hood and explained his case to the members. President Romeo said that Brother Hood was issued three charges for one incident. NJT likes to pile on when writing up operators. Brother Ivan Hood presented his case and all questions were answered. A motion to vote was made by Brother Thomas Fisher and seconded by Sister Jami Lyles. Motion passed. The results of the vote were 44 yes votes and 0 no votes.
President Romeo said that Sister Yolanda Jamison was on the agenda to present her case for arbitration. However, Sister Jamison called Brother Campanella yesterday and said that she did not want to proceed with her case. Sister Jamison said that she wanted to move on with her life. We offered Sister Jamison the opportunity to still attend the meeting to present her case if she changed her mind, but she was not present. We wish her well.
New Business: President Romeo thanked Brothers Brian Parks and Tom Burns for doing the cooking for tonight’s barbeque. Applause.
President Romeo said that too many members are getting fired and the union posted a notice warning members of the common infractions causing members to be fired. President Romeo mentioned the following reasons members are getting fired:
· Verbal or physical altercations with passengers, co-workers or management personnel
· Unreported accidents or falsifying reports
· Theft of anything, including lost and found
· Refusing work assignments or bus assignments
· Inappropriate touching or comments to passengers or co-workers
President Romeo told the members to let him fight the battles for you. Do not get into any confrontations with management. Call the union hall.
Brother Campanella said that President Romeo has gotten a lot of members back to work who were discharged. He has won a lot of second, third and fourth step hearings. Yet we still hear comments through the grapevine that this union sucks. It is disappointing because when a member says that this union sucks he are saying that union officers, particularly the full-time union officers, suck. Brother Campanella said that President Romeo is working very hard for this membership and should be commended. So if you hear these negative members trashing the union, please speak up.
President Romeo opened the floor for questions.
A member asked President Romeo to explain the CDL physical process. President Romeo said that Brother Brian Parks made arrangements with doctor in Camden to have CDL physicals performed at no cost. Many members have already taken advantage. These doctors offer other services and hope you become regular customers.
Brother Ivan Hood said that President Romeo has been very gracious to him and he thanked him. Brother Hood went on to say that operators who have been here over 15 years need to have their voices heard. The operators who are retiring probably do not care what happens and the new operators need to work 10 years before they are relevant. So the operators who have been here 15 plus years need to make a change so that the new administration hears their voices in terms of different rules and regulations. If the company keeps taking there will be nothing left, and our officers have fought hard for what we have now. We need to hold on to it. Brother Hood said that he does not want to work someplace for 20 years and have nothing to show for it because the company fired him on a ridiculous rule that we should have fought. We need to take the gloves off with each other and tighten them up with the company. Applause.
A member said that members should fax their CDL physicals to the DMV because someone from the DMV has said that they are having problems receiving the physicals by mail. President Romeo said that we have been telling members for a long time to bring their physicals to the union hall. The union will fax the physicals, make copies and give members the correct addresses to mail them. A copy will also be placed in the member’s file. Since we have been doing this we have not received any complaints that the physicals were not received. We also review the forms for errors or missing information.
A member said that when he returned to work from being out sick, there was an error in his paycheck nearly every week. Brother Campanella helped him with his pay issues to get them corrected. He would like to thank Brother Campanella and President Romeo.
Brother Jerome Page said that he wanted to thank President Romeo for taking a stand for what the company is doing. Brother Page said that the accident grading system needs to be renegotiated because it is obsolete. The company can give you points and not have to prove anything, but in arbitration the company must prove their case. With Brother Hood’s type of case, it is not only getting the three write-ups off his record, but it is also looking at the grading system for bus operators. There is an article in the InTransit magazine regarding fatigue. Brother Page said that fatigue is only dealing with bus operators. It is a mental disease and sometimes we do not even know we have it. But that fatigue is in the grading system. The grading system does not tell how to help fatigued operators. If the operator who was terminated for fatigue and had nine points, was sent to class they could have taught her what fatigue is and how to recognize it. President Romeo interrupted Brother Page and said that he does not feel comfortable discussing this member’s case. We should not be discussing her case, especially when the member is not pursuing the case and is not present. Brother Page apologized. Brother Page said that the grading system has nothing to prove that you actually have fatigue. So when negotiations come up next year, the accident grading system has to be on the table.
A member said that she heard that the bus operators started out with zero accident points when the new contract took effect. President Romeo said no, the accident records were not reset to zero with the new contract. Brother Campanella told members that they should verify things they hear with their shop stewards or union hall because there is a lot of misinformation being given out by members.
A member asked if it was a company violation if the State Police stop a bus and give the operator a warning. President Romeo said that the Title 39 agreement says that discipline results when points are assessed. The company is writing up our members and we are going to arbitration over this issue. Brother Felix Rogers said that the company has changed its tactics and is writing bus operators up for exceeding the legal speed limit instead of a Title 39 violation. President Romeo said that the union disagrees and will address this issue in arbitration.
A member asked if bus operators must have standees. President Romeo said that standees have always been allowed. This member said that the bus operator should not be charged with an accident if a standee falls. President Romeo agreed and said that should be challenged in the grievance procedure. Sister Deonne Moore pointed out that standees are not permitted on the new 45 ft. buses.
Brother Corey Gallman said that members should consult with their shop stewards if they do not understand the new attendance policy because many members are not aware of the changes. Brother Campanella said that when the new attendance policy began, every union officer received a copy of the new policy so that they could become familiar with the changes. The union also posted notice in every garage explaining the attendance policy. We posted it on Facebook. Our members need to pay attention to the information that the union is trying to distribute. We recently had a member who wanted to be fired and stay out of work until she got to 24 hits. She was discharged when she reached 24 hits. There are some members that the union cannot help. If they choose to ignore the warnings, memos, bulletins and Facebook postings, then it is on them as to what happens.
A member asked about the benefits for provisional full-time bus operators. President Romeo said that the provisional program was awarded to the company by an arbitrator. The company made all the rules about the program. The union is not happy with the provisional program. All questions regarding the provisional program should be addressed with the company. However, tomorrow the union will be meeting with the company to discuss the uniform issues and the provisional program. The union is not blind to what provisional operators are experiencing.
Brother Corey Gallman said that many members are under the misnomer that the union negotiated the provisional full time operator program. The union did not negotiate this program. Brother Gallman said that he hears members saying that this union sucks because it allowed the provisional program. President Romeo said that the union did not make these rules and management is telling provisional operators to talk to their union. President Romeo emphatically said that the provisional operators should be asking management to answer their questions because it is their program; they made the rules. The union is still addressing issues with provisionals with the company. When they reach their quotas, they need to move provisionals into permanent full-time positions.
A member asked how the provisional program will affect our pension plan if the company is not making these operators full-time. Brother Campanella said that the provisional program is a new program. Therefore, NJT does not have to make anyone permanent full-time until they reach their quotas. Let’s say that a garage has 200 full time bus operators. Then, NJT does not have to transfer any provisional bus operators to permanent full-time until they have at least 20 (10%) provisional operators. The provisional bus operators that were hired when this program started will not see any movement until each garage reach their quotas. But once that happens, provisional operators will start moving into full-time positions. President Romeo said that the quotas are getting close in each garage so it should not be too long before some provisional operators are made full-time. Brother David Nickodemus said that the same thing occurred in 1985 when NJT started the part-time program. It took some part-time bus operators two years to make full-time. A member asked if the company is obligated to post these openings. Brother Nickodemus said that the provisional operators will move to full-time in seniority order so there should be no reason to post openings.
A member asked if the employee will be notified by management that when they are full-time. President Romeo said absolutely.
A member said that his understanding is that the 10% quota on provisional operators is company-wide. President Romeo said no, it is based on the individual garages.
Brother Jerome Page said that it is his understanding that the provisional operators are in seniority order and it is confusing to say that they are moving up to full-time. President Romeo said that provisional operators will make full-time in seniority order. The provisional operator with the most seniority will become permanent full-time first. The bidding order will not change.
President Romeo said that the company was awarded provisional full-time operators by an arbitrator. Brother Page asked if the union can appeal the arbitrator’s decision. President Romeo said no, his decision is binding. When the arbitrator said that the company had to pay $68 million in back wages, it was binding on the company. So the provisional program is binding on us.
A member said that there is a new sign-on procedure using a sixth digit and failure to comply may result in discipline. President Romeo said that the new procedure may be because of the clever-cad system, but we have to comply. A member said that some radios will not take the sixth digit. President Romeo said that he knows that older radios will not accept the sixth digit, so use it when you can.
Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Robert Jackson. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.
Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 13, 2016. Hope to see you there.