Job Security. One of the most basic reasons people form and join unions. For decades the most fundamental means of job security has been the negotiation of final and binding arbitration of disciplinary cases. During 2018, for its Department of Buses membership, and during 2019, for its Subway and Support membership, the United Transit Leadership Organization secured binding arbitration of discipline cases. The arbitration that was secured was the first such provision ever applicable to employees in UTLO represented titles. And, the UTLO was successful in arbitration, repeatedly securing reduced penalties for charged members.
The Authority, however, did not seem to understand the meaning of the words “final and binding” when it came to arbitration of disciplinary charges against a member for certain social media comments. This was so even though the arbitrator found the union member guilty of violating the Authority’s respectful workplace policies and not only demoted the union member for six months from Superintendent, past the supervisory ranks, down to an hourly employee but also issued a time served suspension. The arbitrator considered this a “severe” but appropriate penalty.The Authority, however, starving for termination, not only refused to join in the arbitration award issuing a scathing dissenting opinion, but also appealed the decision to court, an action known as an application to vacate the arbitration award.
The appeal delayed enforcement of the award for several months and placed the union member under consistent anxiety that the award might actually be thrown out with him being terminated or forced into a permanent demotion to the hourly ranks. Remember, the charges related to his social media comments not his ability to perform the nuts and bolts of his on the job duties.
The UTLO, however, is pleased to report that Judge Eileen Rakower of the New York State Supreme Court for New York County denied the Authority’s application and that the Authority has represented to the UTLO that the union member will be restored to his position and that there will be no further appeals.
This is not only a victory for one union member. It is a victory for all. The disciplinary arbitration provision we negotiated has withstood the full onslaught of the Authority’s hostility and the arbitrator’s award is now a court order enforceable by the power of contempt. All UTLO members should be a little more confident today that their jobs cannot be taken away for frivolous reasons, the whims of superiors or for pressure from subordinate employees. UTLO members’ jobs are amore secure today because of the UTLO’s powerful advocacy for all its members.