The United Transit Leadership Organization, which in 2017 organized 400 managers working for Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus, the MTA and the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, has now organized 490 subway managers who work in the subway system for New York City Transit.
According to Mario Bucceri, president of the UTLO, on June 11 the Public Employment Relations Board signed off on the subway managers joining the union.
Superintendents on Board
"So, now we have the Deputy Superintendents and Superintendents in the subways and the support in the Station Department," he said during a phone interview.
UTLO's organizing drive has been underwritten by Subway/Surface Supervisors Association President Mike Carrube, who in 2016 also formed the National Association of Transportation Supervisors as an international to act as an umbrella organization.
Mr. Bucceri said that UTLO got close to 70 percent of the subway managers to join, well above the 51 percent required by PERB to avoid conducting a formal balloting process required for recognition.
He said he believed that it was his success in representing managers in recent disciplinary proceedings that helped sway the prospective bargaining-unit members to join.
The latest civil-service manager titles to join the UTLO make between $95,000 and $125,000, according to their union.
‘Can’t Put Price on Job’
"You can't put a price on your job," Mr. Bucceri said. "There are a lot of discipline cases, and I have been successful with even the higher titles and I have been saving jobs."
He continued, "I had one of my Superintendents from buses who was deemed dismissed. We went through the Step 1 and Step 2 hearing and, but for our having an impartial arbitrator as required by our contract for buses, we would not have been able to get this guy's job back."
UTLO's first contract for bus managers expired June 30. It included a $1,350 signing bonus that was pensionable and the creation of a transfer list for members.
"Before, they could put a Superintendent anywhere they wanted," Mr. Bucceri said. "We don't have picking rights, but we have a transfer list now, and if somebody requests a transfer, we are able to do it."
Managers Waking Up
"The managers today are starting to see that they are just another pawn in the chess game," said Mr. Carrube. "They are no better than the people that they manage and supervise....If you don't have a contract, you are not guaranteed a raise, and the managers are starting to see this."
Mr. Carrube said his union spent between $70,000 and $100,000 on the organizing drive. He also disclosed it is trying to organize New Jersey Transit's Light Rail system.
"A lot of current and older labor leaders just gave up on it all in terms of organizing," he said. "People just stayed low, especially after the 1982 Air Traffic Controllers strike when Reagan took the wind out of our sails. I think labor just fell to the wayside and the leaders went with the flow."
In 2015, the MTA attempted to aggressively head off SSSA's organizing drive by hiring Proskauer Rose, an international law firm with a large labor practice, to make the case that as supervisors, under state law the affected employees were ineligible for union membership and collective bargaining.
To lay the foundation for the successful drive, Mr. Carrube and the SSSA helped some of the managers form a non-profit to pave the way for the UTLO. Its leaders submitted about 550 cards to the PERB requesting union status.
That move was not without controversy within labor’s ranks. Transport Workers Union Local 106, which represented some of the managers courted by the UTLO, pushed back by arguing that its parent, the TWU, had more resources and experience negotiating contracts than the UTLO.
The SSSA now has 4,200 members, with the UTLO, its sister union, close to 900.
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