Minutes of Meeting of

Local 880 General Membership

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

10 AM

 

 

Officers Present:                                                                              

President – Joseph M. Romeo                                                                       

Secretary-Treasurer – John Campanella                                             

Delegate – Brian Parks                                                                      

 

Call to Order: President Romeo opened the meeting at 10 AM and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Joseph Capriotti, a pensioner who passed away; Sister Pamela Crouch, whose father passed away; Sister LaShawna Whitfield, whose grandfather passed away; Brother Michael Washington, whose father passed away; Brother Victor Rosa; whose grandmother passed away; Brother Victor Rosa III; whose great-grandmother passed away; Brother Caesar Gallegos; whose step-mother passed away; Sister Patsy Jackson, whose aunt and uncle passed away; our members who are ill; our troops.

 

Motion to Suspend Business: A motion to suspend business and deal strictly with the arbitration cases was made by Brother Brian Parks and seconded by Sister Lynette Hood.  Motion passed.

 

Arbitration Cases:  President Romeo introduced Brother Eric Herrera to the members present and explained his case.  Brother Herrera presented his case and all questions were answered.  A motion to vote was made by Sister Lynette Hood and seconded by Sister Tina Flax.  Motion passed.  Eight ballots were collected and sealed in an envelope signed by Brother Herrera and will be included in the tally of the evening vote.

 

President Romeo introduced Brother Gary Trainer to the members present and explained his case.  Brother Trainer presented his case and all questions were answered.  A motion to vote was made by Brother Brian Parks and seconded by Sister Tina Flax.  Motion passed.  Eight ballots were collected and sealed in an envelope signed by Brother Trainer and will be included in the tally of the evening vote.

 

 

President Romeo said that Sister Cynthia Kern was not in attendance to present her case at the morning meeting so no vote will be taken.  Sister Kern notified the union that she will be present for the evening meeting.

 

Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Sister Tina Flax and seconded by Brother Anthony Smith.  Motion passed.  Meeting adjourned at 10:28 a.m.

 

Sincerely,

John Campanella

Secretary-Treasurer

 

 

Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.  Hope to see you there.

 

 

 

Minutes of Meeting of

Local 880 General Membership

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

PM Meeting

 

 

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 – R. Jackson

Delegate – Brian Parks                                                                       Steward – D. Moore

Delegate – David Nickodemus                                                           Steward – S. Rollins

Steward – Corey Gallman                                                                  Steward – T. Simmons

Steward – Jerome Page                                                                       Steward – G. Sullivan

Steward – Marvin Taylor                                                                   

 

Call to Order: President Romeo opened the meeting at 7 p.m. and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Joseph Capriotti, a pensioner who passed away; Sister Pamela Crouch, whose father passed away; Sister LaShawna Whitfield, whose grandfather passed away; Brother Michael Washington, whose father passed away; Brother Victor Rosa; whose grandmother passed away; Brother Victor Rosa III; whose great-grandmother passed away; Brother Caesar Gallegos; whose step-mother passed away; Sister Patsy Jackson, whose aunt and uncle passed away; our members who are ill; our troops.

 

A member asked that we keep Sister Barbara Briley and her family in our thoughts.

 

Order of Business: A motion was made by Brother Dave Nickodemus and seconded by Brother Thomas Fisher to change the order of business and proceed directly to the arbitration cases.  Motion passed.

 

 

 

Arbitration Cases: President Romeo introduced Brother Eric Herrera and explained his case to the members.  Brother Herrera presented his case and all questions were answered.  A motion to vote was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Dave Nickodemus.  Motion passed.  There were eight ballots from the morning meeting included with the tally of the evening meeting.  The results of the vote were 40 yes votes and 4 no votes.  This case is approved for arbitration.

 

President Romeo introduced Sister Cynthia Kern and explained her case to the members.  Sister Kern presented her case and all questions were answered.  A motion to vote was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Corey Gallman.  Motion passed.  The results of the vote were 38 yes votes and 3 no votes.  This case is approved for arbitration.

 

President Romeo introduced Brother Gary Trainer and explained his case to the members.  Brother Trainer presented his case and all questions were answered.  A motion to vote was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Bill Spencer.  Motion passed.  There were eight ballots from the morning meeting included with the tally of the evening meeting.  The results of the vote were 50 yes votes and 6 no votes.  This case is approved for arbitration.

 

Minutes: There were no minutes to approve since there was no quorum at December’s meeting.

 

Financial Report: Secretary-Treasurer John Campanella informed the members that union dues for 2016 were $702.  If anyone notices a discrepancy in their total dues for 2016, please contact the union hall.

 

Secretary-Treasurer John Campanella read the financial report which was also posted on the bulletin board and asked for questions.  Brother Jerome Page asked where the money was taken to cover the net loss for the month.  Brother Campanella said that the net loss was for all our accounts; there is no place to take the money from.  There will be months where we have a surplus.  Brother Jerome Page asked if legal fees for the arbitration cases we voted on tonight will be paid.  Brother Campanella said that our legal bills are paid every month.  A motion to accept the financial report for December was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Thomas Fisher.  Motion passed.

 

Assessment: Secretary-Treasurer John Campanella explained to the members the bylaw proposal that calls for a yearly assessment to cover legal fees.  Brother Campanella read the following Local 880 bylaw - The expense of any arbitration case and legal fees will be divided equally amongst the active membership of this local union on a yearly basis or when deemed necessary.  Brother Campanella said assessing on a yearly basis is better then assessing for each arbitration case approved by the members or for each legal bill received.  We have enough funds to carry us through the end of each year.  At the end of the year we can decide how much we need to recoup to build our funds up for the following year.  The total legal fees for 2016 were $43,768.53 however, our funds only dropped by just under $14,000.  Therefore, after discussing the assessment with President Romeo and the Executive Board, it was decided that we only need to collect the $14,000 to put our funds back to where they should be.  The assessment needed to cover this is $15, which we can collect in one, two or three monthly installments.  NJ Transit has informed us that they will only collect the assessment in the same week that regular union dues come out.  Therefore, the union dues will be $59 plus the assessment.  Brother Campanella told the members that we did not assess for 12 years because our funds were not diminishing.  We saw no reason to assess for legal fees when our funds were in good shape.  However, this year we would like to recoup what we lost; only the $14,000.  President Romeo said that we are in struggles with NJT constantly and we need the funds to fight back.  We only intend to assess for what we lost.  Brother Campanella said that we also had a large expense this year sending delegates to the International Convention.  The convention occurs once every three years, so we should be able to trim costs on the in between years.  We know we need funds to fight.  We spent over $200,000 in the arbitration fight over our contract and thankfully we had the money in our accounts to pay the bills every month as they came due.  Brother Campanella asked for questions.  Brother Jerome Page asked what was the total cost of the International Convention.  Brother Campanella said the expense report was posted last year and does not recall the exact amount, but it was around $24,000.  President Romeo said that all the local unions across the country attend the International Convention.  Brother Campanella said that the International Convention is like a large union meeting where all the delegates from across the country and Canada come together to vote on issues that affect the membership.  At our last convention we voted on issues such as spending resources to improve bathroom breaks, and to improve the safety of transit workers from assaults.  Brother Jerome Page said that the bylaws require that a report be given on the International Convention and asked if a report will be given.  Brother Campanella said that he posted a report on the International Convention and offered to give an oral report but the members did not want a report.  In fact, they made a motion, which was approved, not to give the report.  Brother Campanella asked for a show of hands on whether to spread the assessment over one month, two months or three months.  The members in attendance overwhelmingly chose one month.  A motion was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Sister Karen Price to assess $15 one time in the month of February.  Motion passed.  

 

Brother Jerome Page asked if it would be proper to mail a notice to every member’s house notifying them of the assessment.  Brother Campanella said that a notice will be posted in every location notifying members of the assessment.  Also our union officers should be getting the word out to the members.  Brother Campanella asked do we want to spend $800 putting out a letter.  Members said no.

 

New Business: President Romeo told members that tampering with NJ Transit’s equipment is resulting in employees being discharged.  Do not tamper with NJT’s equipment, especially tampering, with or altering the camera.  This is serious.  Please get the word out.

 

President Romeo told members to report all accidents; no matter how minor.  NJT is discharging employees for not reporting accidents.  Do not turn a simple two point accident into a discharge. 

 

President Romeo told members that he has been getting a lot of calls about members snitching on other members.  We are all union brothers and sisters.  Do not report on your fellow union brothers or sisters to management.  President Romeo said that he would prefer that members notify him of a problem and let him handle the situation.

 

President Romeo said that the company has demonstrated that they really do not care about the employees.  They just do what they want to do.  Last year we had very heavy snow in South Jersey.  The company decided to give everyone a hit on their attendance that were minutes late.  Then a few days later the company needed the operators help with another situation.

 

President Romeo told members to think about what you are going to say before calling the control center.  Many members are saying things that hurt their situation.  Try to be as clear as possible so your words cannot be used against you.  If you are filling out an accident report, there is no harm in asking a shop steward, depot master or fellow co-worker to read your report before handing it in.  Please keep in mind that you must call the control center to report all incidents or accidents.  Just be careful in what you say.  A member said that he has had instances where the control center asked him a question and he told them that he is not certain that he can answer that question right now.  President Romeo said that he heard a communication where the control center said “so you hit the vehicle” and the employee said yes.  But that is not what happened in the accident.

 

President Romeo opened the floor for questions.

 

A member said that he was told he can be disciplined for taking the seat alarm out from under the seat and placing it under his seat cushion. He is not disconnecting it.  It just prevents the seat alarm from going off unnecessarily.  President Romeo said that NJT could consider that tampering with equipment.  President Romeo suggested explaining this to the supervisor and let the supervisor make the decision on whether you can move the seat alarm.  This member said that some operators are not putting the seat alarm back when they are done.  President Romeo said to let management make the call on this issue.

 

A member said that the company is slamming bus operators on cell phones but many of the bus radios are not working.  President Romeo said that if you are not in the seat and you are on your recovery time, it is not a cell phone violation.  President Romeo said that bus operators should not use their cell phones for company business.  It is the company’s responsibility to make sure the radios work.  Bus operators are not obligated to use their cell phones for company business.  However, please report every broken bus radio on the defect card.  Broken radios need to be reported so we can build a case that NJT is not fixing the radios.  President Romeo said that bus operators are getting discharged for three offenses on cell phone.  If you get caught once, do not take your cell phone on the bus again.

 

President Romeo said that the union has been notified that the company is going to start cracking down on mechanical employees using their cell phones while on duty.  The company has been lenient on this issue in the past, but now it has become a problem.

 

A member said that the doctor giving CDL physicals in Camden is now charging $40.  President Romeo said that this is the first he has heard of being charged.  However, $40 is still lower than what others are charging.

 

A member said that we have been told that we are essential employees and we must report to work when it is snowing.  We get a hit on our attendance if we do not come in.  However, if we are injured in an accident while coming to work, who would be at fault?  President Romeo said that he is not an attorney and cannot advise who is at fault.  However, since we are essential employees and we must report to work.  If you are injured, you will need to consult a worker’s compensation attorney.  This member said that we are being disciplined if we cannot make it in during a snowstorm.  This issue was discussed further.

 

A member said that a SEPTA driver hit an elderly man and is being charged with vehicular homicide.  The victim’s son is asking for community service for the bus operator.  This member suggested that we start a petition in support of the bus operator.  President Romeo said that he would not be against the idea if a member wanted to start a petition.  President Romeo said that a North Jersey bus operator died in a bus accident and the members of Local 880 donated the second highest amount of money to assist the family with the funeral bill.  The majority of the donations came from members of the Egg Harbor Twp. garage.  We do come together in the time of need.

 

A member asked if our pension contributions go to the Amalgamated Transit Union because it says ATU on the statements.  Brother Campanella said that the pension contributions do not go to our International Union.  The contributions deducted from our checks go directly into our pension plan.  The name of our pension plan is the Retirement Plan for NJ Transit Bus Operations Inc., Amalgamated Transit Union Employees.  The plan is administered by NJ Transit employees and the plan is overseen by a pension committee consisting of three NJ Transit Officials and three ATU Officials.  President Romeo said that he is proud to say that we have a very strong pension plan.  A member asked if the pension is guaranteed.  President Romeo said that nothing is guaranteed but that is why we need to support politicians who support mass transportation, pensions, etc.  It is very important to support the politicians with the same values as us.  The other interests are looking to taking away your jobs, pensions and benefits.  A member asked if we are covered under the Pension Guarantee fund.  Brother Campanella said no, our pension plan is not covered by ERISA or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.  A member asked if there is anything the members can view to see where their pension money is being invested.  President Romeo said that the pension committee actively monitors its investments, but yes he has some information that he will show him after the meeting. 

 

A member asked if our 13-C rights are in jeopardy.  President Romeo said yes they could be in jeopardy because we have a Republican controlled government.  There may be up to three Supreme Court nominees in the near future.  All this does not bode well for unions and their protections.

 

A member asked if the company can use the lack of manpower to cut jobs in the garages.  President Romeo said that the provisional bus operators are finally starting to move into permanent positions.  Provisional operators and part-timers are now bidding on work.  President Romeo said that he monitors the work fairly closely at it does not appear that we are losing work.  However, the company has cuts runs, on a daily basis, if they have do not have enough available bus operators.

 

A member said that the company is shaving recovery time off of runs.  President Romeo said that the union has objected to the company shaving recovery time.  In fact, the union objected to the Wildwood/Cape May schedules last year and the company made some minor adjustments.  We are asking them to do more.  President Romeo said to send him any paddle where you think there is not enough recovery time.  A member asked if there is a State law that addresses this issue.  President Romeo said no, send him the objectionable paddles.

 

Brother Jerome Page said that the union leadership came to the EHT garage in November for a meeting and asked if there are plans to come to EHT every month.  President Romeo said that he would like to visit every garage on a monthly basis, but he simply cannot.  He hopes to visit the garages more frequently.

 

Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Sister Kathy Lannon.  Motion passed.  Meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

 

Sincerely,

John Campanella

Secretary-Treasurer

 

 

Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.  Hope to see you there.