Tuesday, June 9, 2015
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 – D. Moore
Delegate – Jami Lyles Steward – A. Morgan
Delegate – Brian Parks Steward – J. Page
Delegate – David Nickodemus Steward – F. Rogers
Steward – Ben Davis Steward – S. Rollins
Steward – Corey Gallman Steward – T.J. Simmons
Steward – Robert Jackson
Steward – Marvin Taylor
Call to Order: President Romeo opened the meeting at 7:30 p.m. and asked for a moment of silence for the following: Brother Ed Farr, a pensioner who passed away; Brother William Jenison, whose brother passed away; Brother David Follis, whose father passed away; Brother James “Big Jim” Farrell Sr., whose brother passed away; Brother Ruben Roman, whose father passed away; Brother James Hargrave, whose sister passed away; our members who are ill; our troops.
Minutes: President Romeo said that the minutes were posted in all locations and asked for questions. There were none. A motion to accept the minutes for May was made by Brother Marvin Taylor and seconded by Brother William Brennan. 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. Brother Campanella reported that next week our delegates will be attending the NJ AFL-CIO convention in Atlantic City. In July, our delegates will also be attending the ATU Can-Am Conference. A motion to accept the financial report was made by Sister Jami Lyles and seconded by Brother Dave Nickodemus. Motion passed.
Brother Campanella also reported that $6,149.00 was received from the assessment for legal fees in May, bringing the balance to be collected down to $24,567.81.
Arbitration Case: President Romeo reported that Brother Jerome Page notified the union at the last Executive Board meeting in May that he was dropping his case for arbitration.
President Romeo introduced Brother William Brennan and explained the circumstances regarding Brother Brennan’s case. Brother Brennan explained his case to the members and all questions were answered. A motion to vote was made by Brother Corey Gallman and seconded by Sister Jami Lyles. Motion passed. The results of the vote were 7 yes votes and 22 no votes. This case was not approved for arbitration.
New Business: President Romeo told members that now mechanical employees are being written up for cell phone violations if they are moving a bus and the drivecam shows them with a cell phone in their pockets or on their persons. Some mechanical employees were suspended for 15 days because they had their cell phones in their pockets or on their belts while moving a bus. President Romeo said that he is fighting to remedy these violations. These employees should have been given a warning since mechanical employees have been carrying cell phones on their persons for years. President Romeo recommends that mechanical employees do not take their cell phones on road calls. If the company wants to continue writing up union employees just for having a cell phone with them, then do not take your cell phones on the buses. The cell phone policy was not intended to discipline employees for just carrying a cell phone. It was intended to discipline employees who use their cell phones while actually driving. A member said that her radio was not working so she needed to use her cell phone, but the company should make sure the phones work on the buses. President Romeo told this member not to get into a confrontation with the control center over cell phones. Brother Dave Nickodemus recommended that members carry their cell phones in their bags, but keep them powered off and only use them for emergencies. A member said that the depot masters call them to work extra trips. President Romeo said let the company send out a regional supervisor to ask you to work overtime; do not use your cell phones. A member said that the foremen are always on their cell phones while working, but our members are written up. President Romeo said that the union cannot discipline management employees, but the company should hold their managers to the same standards as union employees.
President Romeo said that he has resolved the recent fines for buses idling over three minutes. But going forward, NJT wants to hold the operators responsible for the fines. Also the company is starting a pilot program in the Washington Twp. garage where the buses will be programmed to shut-down after idling for three minutes. This program will start in a month or so. A member said that loading wheelchairs takes longer than three minutes. President Romeo said that we need to find ways to avoid these fines because they are $1,000 per fine. President Romeo said that all the fines were issued when operators were on their breaks and left the buses running.
President Romeo said that there have been rallies held to protest the fare increases and to fight service cuts. There will be more rallies to protest what this governor is doing to our state. You can follow the rallies on Facebook. Local 880 has a page and the State Council has a page.
President Romeo said that NJT has been dragging its feet with our contract. Both sides picked an arbitrator, but now NJT filed a lawsuit saying that we belong under the jurisdiction of PERC. We believe that our federal 13-C rights exempt us from PERC’s jurisdiction for our contract. Please be aware that our legal bills will be very high because of this contract battle. This is how NJT and other companies try to financially break unions.
President Romeo said that in the news today, the NJ State Supreme Court ruled that Christie does not have to fund the public workers’ pension fund even though he gave his word to the public employees and signed a law requiring him to fund the pension system by a certain amount.
President Romeo said that we need to unite and fight for ourselves. Our local union had two “fight the fare increase” rallies recently, one in Atlantic City and one in Camden. Two union delegates went to the garages and asked for volunteers to attend the rallies. We had posters and signs ready. President Romeo said that he is sorry to report that we had very few members attend. Some union officers and a few bus operators showed up. We need to more get involved. We are all the union.
Brother Corey Gallman asked Brother Campanella how our dues compare to other unions. Brother Campanella said that he does not know the exact amount other non-ATU unions are charging, but he is being told by members from these other unions that our dues are lower. Brother Campanella said that if anyone recalls, our local union’s dues have been lower than the minimum dues allowed under the international constitution. Our local union was able to pay its bills and still have funds to place into savings. But as President Romeo said, NJT is trying to financially break unions with unnecessary legal expenses. Our members have gone five years without a contract, six years without a raise and they are being squeezed financially. Well the union is feeling the same financial squeeze. We need funds to pay for legal bills and the officers’ wages to fight for the members; it is expensive. Our funds dropped approximately $60K over the last few years and we needed to take action. Brother Campanella went on to explain what the current costs have been so far in the contract arbitration process. Brother Campanella said that we went though some good times over the last twelve years where we were able to save money, but times are difficult right now and he understands that the members are upset. President Romeo said that for twelve years our local union did not assess for legal bills even though the union had the right to do so under the bylaws, but now we need more funds in order to continue the fight. A member asked if we have any idea how much the entire contract arbitration process will cost. President Romeo said that we do not, but NJT is trying to financially break unions. That is why the letter from the executive director regarding our contract was insincere.
President Romeo said that soon members will see the entire State Council delegation in the locations to address your concerns. The State Council delegates have been visiting every garage in the state to get to know the members and allow the members to get to know them. We have been receiving very positive feedback from the members regarding these visits. President Romeo said that he is going to be asking for support from the members. A member asked what kind of job actions can we take. President Romeo said that job actions are illegal, but we can continue to participate in demonstrations and rallies. We have an inflatable camel at these rallies to argue that Christie is humping the public workers. A member questioned how affective these rallies are. President Romeo said these rallies are effective when we have a large number of members attend, but they are not effective if only a few members participate.
Brother Corey Gallman asked why we cannot use the media more. President Romeo said we can use the media to our advantage, but when only five members show up to a rally, it is hard to gain attention from the media. President Romeo again asked the members to check out the union’s and State Council’s Facebook pages to see what is happening.
Adjourn: A motion to adjourn was made by Brother Corey Gallman and seconded by Sister Jami Lyles. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
Note: The next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Hope to see you there.