MTA, TWU Local 100 Contract ratified

The contract between the MTA and TWU Local 100 was formally ratified February 15th by the union’s rank-and-file members. The contract was approved by union members by a 70-30 margin according to the TWU Local 100 website. When the contract was still in the voting process, the union’s Executive Board voted 37-6 in favor of the agreement. Union members who are employed by MTA-NYCT, MTA Bus, and MTA-MABSTOA are covered under the 28-month deal. Tentatively agreed upon before the retirement of former MTA CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast, the deal was reached just hours after its expiration in January.

Some of the perks according to sources are:

  • 2.5% raise retroactive to January 15th, a year after the expiration of the former contract, culminating in a 5% raise over the life of the contract.
  • $500 bonus for the final two months of the contract.
  • Commuter rail passes for employees who live in the city as well as improved shoes that can stand up to their work environment.
  • Construction improvements for workplace facilities.
  • “..fully protects their health coverage and wins important medical benefit gains without the concessions that are enshrined in city and state public sector patterns. It secures an unprecedented “me too” wage guarantee with the LIRR unions, which have the right to strike and are governed by federal law and wage patterns set by the national freight and commuter railroad sectors.”, as quoted by TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen on the Union’s website.

The Union’s President also further assured members by stating in the same article, “The contract does not lock us into a long-term commitment, which provides an important hedge against any unforeseen spike in inflation. For the first time, this contract has secured an agreement from the MTA to hire and utilize in house forces to retrofit the older parts of the transit infrastructure to provide clean, comfortable and safe crew areas for our sisters in transit.” This is referring to the reported 100 or more members that will be added to the construction crew that will be improving the work facilities. Please read the articles below for more information.

Members Vote 70-30 to Ratify New Contract with the MTA

NYC transit workers ratify new MTA contract increasing raises

 

75 new detectives to protect the Bronx

New York City and the NYPD has stated a victory in finding that the number of homicides has gone down, but in the case of what has become New York’s most violent borough-the Bronx-the NYPD has gone to new lengths to bring it up to par with Manhattan and the rest of the five boroughs.

According to the New York Times, the NYPD announced last week that they would be sending close to 80 new investigators to the Bronx. A study published by New York Times analyzed deployment data showing that officers in the Bronx dealt with the highest felony caseloads in the five boroughs. The New York Times study published just a few weeks prior to this announcement determined that “Precinct Detectives in the Bronx last year carried out more than twice as many violent felony cases on average as detectives in Manhattan or Staten Island, and over 50 percent more than those in Brooklyn or Queens.”, noted in the article linked below. The study also showed that budgetary resources are being invested elsewhere, such as counter-terrorism instead of the deployment of officers. This ultimately resulted in the Bronx not feeling the same relief of lower crime rates that were felt in Manhattan and the rest of New York City. The decision to deploy the 75 white-shield investigators, who are on track to become gold shield detectives, has been met with support from NYPD officials and the Bronx District Attorney as well as criticism from other New York City public officials. Letitia James, the City’s public advocate, expressed that this problem in the Bronx had been ignored for too long. The NYPD Chief of Detectives, Robert Boyce, has told New York Times that the deployment should be underway by the end of the month.

Within the last year, there has been a growing trend of readjusting the staff of jails and prisons to keep the facilities safer for both Correction’s Officers and inmates, and a trend of public employee reform in general. This year began with legislative measures being announced to protect transportation workers and construction workers, and it looks like this trend has now transferred over to the Police Departments. This also comes in the wake of the new contract agreement between Mayor de Blasio and the PBA, the first in 5 years.

Police to Strengthen Force in New Yorks’ Most violent Borough

MTA gets First Female Interim Executive Director

2016 wrapped up successfully for the MTA and their former CEO and Chairman, Tom Prendergast. Two successes, namely, were the construction of the Second Avenue Subway and the tentative contract agreement with the TWU Local 100. Now, with a new year and new posts to fill, the nation’s largest transportation system will see their first female Interim Executive Director, Veronique Hakim.

Veronique Hakim has been appointed to the leading position from Governor Cuomo. Hakim has close to 30 years of experience with public transportation, not just at the MTA but also with New Jersey Turnpike Authority and New Jersey Transit. She served as Executive Director of the NJTA in 2010 and was named to lead the NJT in 2014. This is no small feat, considering NJ Transit is the largest statewide public transit system in the nation. Hakim had a hand in integrating the MetroCard into the subway systems along with leading several large construction projects as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. In handling the MTA’s multibillion-dollar construction program, not only did she oversee the creation of the Second Avenue Subway Station, but also the LIRR East Side Access and the Number 7 Subway Extension. She is also currently the President of New York City Transit, a position Prendergast was in before he was Chairman and CEO of the MTA. In an article on TheCheifLeader.com, Governor Cuomo gives his praise. “Ronnie Hakim is ready to embrace the challenge of running the nation’s largest transportation network during this transition,” Mr. ­Cuomo said in a statement. “She is a true transportation professional who has dedicated her life to improving the commute for millions of New Yorkers, and I am confident that in this new role she will continue doing that as we reimagine and modernize the MTA for the 21st century.”, Cuomo said to The Chief Leader.

Please see the article linked below for further information.

Cuomo Gives Hakim Shot To Take Helm at MTA

 

 

Nassau County COBA fighting poor jail searches

An internal investigation into a former Nassau County jail nurse has reportedly been mishandled and Nassau County COBA President is fighting for answers.  After a long series of letters, articles, press conferences, and investigations, former Nassau County Jail nurse Chantiel Cox was charged and arrested February 3rd, 2017 for smuggling contraband to inmates.

Nassau County COBA President Brian Sullivan received a series of letters from the Nassau County DA’s office painting a disturbing picture of an obstructed internal investigation of the former nurse. She and two other accomplices were allegedly smuggling razorblades, cellphones, synthetic drugs and other items to inmates. She initially was fired, without charges, from the jail following an internal investigation of the smuggling ring. Prosecutors weren’t formally made aware of the internal investigation. According to a video from Ucomm.com of a press conference that took place last month, the Nassau County DA found out through outside sources and then demanded a briefing from jail administration.  Following the briefing, the DA’s office conducted its own investigation and then later arrested and charged Cox.  An article on Ucomm.com paints a history of negligent facility searches and a general trend of searches being carried out poorly when violent situations arise. The same article states that for nearly a year after having knowledge that the nurse in question was bringing contraband into the correctional facility, there was no facility-wide search ordered for weapons, drugs, cell phones or other items.

A series of letters from the Nassau DA’s office sent to the Nassau County COBA President dating back to December of 2015, as referenced by Newsday, is what set the Union’s appeal for another investigation into motion. Prosecutors learned of the smuggling ring in December 2015 after the DA’s office was alerted by outside sources about the scheme. Chief Assistant DA, Albert Teichman, followed up by saying that not only was the investigation immediately conducted but that even though the sheriff’s initial investigation was mishandled, “the failures were non-criminal”. Ultimately, he later stated that he also asked County Attorney Carnell Foskey that all county agencies be reminded the police or prosecutors ” must be notified of any potential criminal investigation”, as quoted from the Newsday article about this case published in January. There was no question during this correspondence that the DA’s office or police should have been formally and properly consulted about the initial internal investigation.

The mishandled investigation into this matter only facilitates the unsafe landscapes of jails for inmates and correctional staff alike. If individuals who work inside these correctional facilities are overworked and understaffed, it creates a dangerous environment. Someone taking advantage of their access to secured and controlled spaces to further distribute materials, some that inmates can make in the jail without outside help, perpetuates the already vicious cycle of violence in jails. For more information about this case, please see the links below.

 

Correction officers union calls for probe of Nassau sheriff’s office

DA: Jail contraband probe involving nurse ‘mishandled’ internally

When the Sheriff Obstructs Justice

Nassau COBA holds Press Conference at the Nassau Legislature

 

 

 

Transportation Workers Protection Act announced

New York, on both the state and city levels, has been hard at work reforming employee protections. Recently, City officials have been proposing legislation to protect construction workers. The effort has received wide support from other City officials and the Buildings and Construction Trade Council of Greater New York. The individuals supporting the bill also felt some push-back from the NYC Housing Authority.

Now the same effort has been introduced to the transportation sector. Recent measures have been made by Governor Cuomo to protect employees of airports. Similar to the bill mentioned above for construction workers, this piece of legislation also stresses preparedness and protocol for emergency response personnel so they can carry out their duties more efficiently. The proposed bill, to be titled the Transportation Workers Protection Act, will specifically include airport workers in the list of protected employees. An article, linked below, on WorkersCompensation.com, states, “Under current law, on-the-job assaults against transit employees – including bus operators, train operators, ticket inspectors, and conductors – are considered Class D felonies. However, current law does not specifically include airport workers in this category of transit employees. This new law will remove any ambiguity and explicitly include airport workers among those whom an assault against would result in increased penalties.”

The plan to draft the legislation was announced on January 25th by Governor Cuomo with the company of Hector Figueroa, President of Airport Workers’ Union 32JB.

NY Gov Announces Legislation to Protect Workers at NY Airports

Bill proposed to protect, better train New York City construction workers

In the past two years, thirty city construction workers have passed away as a result of work-related accidents. It goes without saying, even one life lost is one too much. Gary Labarbera, President of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, wrote an article for Daily News New York that supported the bill proposed by three New York City leaders to protect construction workers. “Housing and Building Committee Chair Jumaane Williams and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca have submitted a bill, with the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, that would promote worker safety by requiring that construction workers have such skills and training.”, said President Labarbera to Daily News New York. As the saying goes, knowledge is power and union construction workers are thoroughly trained through NYSDOL-approved programs. The bill, if passed, will call for a more thorough training of both union and non-union workers. Labarbera also stressed a NYCOSH study released in January determined that the quickly growing percentage of minority workers face a statistical likelihood of getting injured or killed on a worksite. He added that the study found that Latinos were the most at risk for work injury or fatality. Although painting a picture that correlated work injuries with non-union worksites, that minorities were more likely to get injured than their non-minority counterparts, and that statistics proved that the numbers of minority workers jumped 70% in a 10 year period, no mention was made about the type of worker that was on either type of worksite. This was most likely because, in the bigger picture of what the bill intends to do, the worker and work site isn’t in question. The bill advocates for worker and worksite protection, period. “As unionized construction workers supporting this Council bill, we are proud to stand as advocates on behalf of the sector’s entire workforce, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and union or non-union status.”, Labarbera proclaimed in the article for Daily News New York.

Just a few days prior to Labarbera contributing his article to Daily News New York, a number of officials from the NYC Housing Authority released statements against the bill, reasoning that it would strip jobs from non-union construction firms, among other issues addressed.

Please see the articles below for more information.

City Council can protect NYC workers from construction accidents by mandating better training

NYC Buildings Department opposes bill requiring training program for construction workers

NYCHA tenants fear apprentice plan would create less diverse construction workforce