Progress Through Unity

About Steve Burkert

Retroactive Pay Part #2 – 8/3/17

I have been successful in my talks with the Carrier regarding the second half of our retroactive pay. We will receive our payment on August 3, 2017. All of the other Coalition Unions will also receive their checks on the same date. The Carrier will be sending out a letter soon informing you of specific dates, if you are choosing  to change your deductions for this retro check period. Thank you for your patience while I straightened out the logistics of this matter.

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman

GC Assault Letter Read at NJT Board of Directors Meeting 5/17/17

Good Evening,

 

I am the General Chairman of SMART TD Local #60, I represent the conductor, assistant conductor and ticket collectors that work here at New Jersey Transit Rail. My topic of discussion tonight though involves all NJT workers such as bus operators, ticket agents, police officers, station cleaners and even the employees in this building  who assist our passengers during events or emergencies.

 

N.J.S.2C12-1, in plain terms is a law dealing with assaults on a another person. It was amended in 1996 to include specific language regarding New Jersey Transit employees.It states…

 

(F) Any operator of a motorbus, any employee of a rail passenger service or any employee of the New Jersey Transit Corporation while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as an operator of a motorbus, an employee of a rail passenger service or an employee of the New Jersey Transit Authority

 

This revision upgrades a simple assault to aggravated assault for affected employees.

I have repeatedly stated that the assaults are rising not only against my members but all of New Jersey Transit employees. The issue at hand is that the amended law is not being followed. The assault takes place, the person responsible is hopefully arrested, your employees receive medical treatment. Then, instead of the case remaining in the County/Superior courts it is being downgraded  by prosecutors across the state to local courts as a simple assault. This is being done without any input from the victim or the arresting officer.The convicted person walks out of court with nothing more than a small fine, if that much. Sometimes, while the employee is still unable to resume work.

 

I have members who have been sucker punched without having any interaction with a passenger. The passenger was drunk or high or because they thought it would look cool to their friends as they videotaped it and then posted it online. The result is broken jaws, noses, teeth and eye sockets for nothing more than showing up to work. The employee receive no paycheck while out, but do get slammed with medical bills.They, along their families suffer, some are never able to return to their position.

 

Everyone sitting up front tonight, please pretend someone just ran up and physically assaulted you, broke your nose or jaw. Why,only because you are members of this board, for no other reason? This is what my members go through on a  daily basis. Thankfully we have our officers here to insure your well being so it could not happen.

 

Recent Amtrak delays have only made this situation worse, the trains are overcrowded, understaffed and delayed. The delays are only going to get longer while the frustration of passengers are at a breaking point. I should also mention the concerts or sporting events where alcohol plays a huge part in the assaults.

 

I will continue to work with  Executive Director Santoro, Chief of Police Trucillo and their support teams on this disturbing issue. We all agree the end results need to be better for the transit employee. I would love to see a designated group, internally, to assist the employees through the entire ordeal including court hearings. They should not be victimised twice by a process for an unwanted assault while trying to earn a living.  

 

Thankfully, Governor Christie has now publicly weighed in on the delays. I am asking that you go back to Governor Christie, ask for his assistance in enforcing the language of the existing law. Let him use his authority in telling ALL state prosecutors, no more downgrading of charges in our aggravated assaults. Not just for train crews, but bus operators, police officers and all employees covered in the law’s language.  It will be a zero cost item to him, or to the budget at New Jersey Transit.

 

If we can deter any future assaults by adhering to a law that is already on the books, it would be priceless.

 

If Governor Christie wishes to come and see for himself, the overcrowded trains and being short staffed, I will be happy to escort him around the property.
Thank you for your time.

Local 60 Dues Increase

The monthly dues deduction designated for the General Committee will increase this month. The General Committee has been reviewing the account over the last four months. A full investigation of past, present and future costs was conducted, tabulated and thoroughly discussed prior to the Local Chairmen voting on  this increase. If you have questions regarding this issue or any other please come to the Local meeting this Sunday.

Thank You

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman

Fare Collection During AMTRAK Service Disruptions

Members,

This has been a very stressful month for both you and our passengers that utilize NJ Transit. AMTRAK will be performing work to improve rail conditions in Penn Station NY. This work will involve both redirecting trains and closing tracks. Certain trains may be rerouted to a different terminal during this time. Our responsibility during this time is to perform our duties as professionally and safely as possible. We are tasked with collecting ALL of the fares on the train that we work. Please be mindful there is no rule that allows us “not to collect fares” during a service disruption.

If a passenger causes a disturbance on board a train or refuses to pay a fare, please be polite and explain to them you are required to call for police assistance for a fare refusal. If after this explanation no payment of fare is made, call the line dispatcher and request police assistance. While waiting for the police assistance, please make a PA announcement about the delay. Once police assistance arrives on scene, the passenger who refused to pay the fare will be removed from the train. There will be no opportunity for the passenger once the police arrive, to then pay the fare, since the train has already been delayed.  The passenger will then be under the direction of the police officer on scene.

In closing, the recent AMTRAK service disruptions were never our fault nor were the delays that followed. I am asking all members for patience and understanding when dealing with our passengers. I would hope the passengers extend the same amount of respect and courtesy to our crews, as we strive to get them to their destinations safely.

Thank you and be safe,

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman- Local 60

Wednesday Train Service 3/15/17

The Carrier is requesting all crews that normally work on Wednesday to report at their normal time and location. Please be safe in your travels.

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman

Snow Storm Service for 3/14-3/15/17

The Carrier is requesting all crews to report to their sign up locations at their normal sign up times for the next 2 days.

Fraternally,

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman

Working Safely While On Duty

Over the weekend the NJ Transit Rail put out a new SUPPLEMENTAL BULLETIN ORDER. It addresses changes to operations on both the Newark and Hoboken Division trains.  The trains in question are terminating in NY Penn Station, Princeton, Gladstone and the Meadowlands Station. The B.O. advises you to stand in the eastern most vestibule coming through the North River Tunnels. It also advises you to communicate via Rule 21(D). I have worked into NY since the inception of Midtown Direct Service, I would prefer and advise you to take a safer course of action. The front vestibule in the winter is covered in ice and snow, with the doors normally frozen in place. This would leave you no escape route in an emergency. nor do I advocate trying to hold on with one hand while hitting communicating buttons with the other while the train’s own motion is throwing you side to side. The front vestibule is commonly referred to as a “killing zone” since anything the ALP runs over is thrown up into the vestibule and if the overhead catenary wire is damaged all of the debris is naturally thrown into the area where you are supposed to be standing. Also as all crews are well aware the communicating system is not always dependable and historically if a buzzer went off in the engine at the crossover typically the operator thinks there is an emergency. I do not advocate putting an overcrwoded train in an emergency application, when no real emergency exists. The overcrowded trains we work everyday would  cause injuries to our passengers when we suddenly stop without a valid reason to do so.

I advise you to follow all the rules. If you have the engine head out, board the engine at your last station stop. Do not stop the train in the middle of a right a way and try to climb up the outside of the ALP. The safer course is to board at a station platform.  Discuss this in your job briefing, and adjust as necessary. Once at your final station, then proceed to clear your train of passengers. The safety of the passengers and your crew members is of the utmost importance. Yes, it may be more time-consuming but the safe course is always the better course.

Please remember this quote from the New Jersey Transit Rail Safety Policy … ” NJ Transit Rail is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our co-workers, our customers and the communities we serve” …. ” We recognize the safety rules, training, and procedures are provided and must be followed to ensure safety. Also, we will strive to use our best judgment and make responsible decisions and take actions to prevent accidents and injuries”  and .. ” …safety is a vital part of every job”

In closing, I will continue to monitor all aspects of operations to ensure that NJ Transit provides you with a safe work environment.

Please be safe at home and at work.

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman

Local 60

HOS Q Forms

Please be aware the Carrier is approaching members about HOS Q forms. There are certain things that you must remember about filling out missing or corrected Q forms.

1) These forms can ONLY  be filled out while you are at work and on duty, they are considered ” Covered Service”

2) If you have no break in your job they may be filled out at the conclusion of your assignment.

3) If you fill them out on your swing you must  have the required time “Off Duty” to comply with HOS.

4) Please contact me if anyone was threatened with a fine from the FRA, this is FALSE, unless the contents are purposely fraudulent.

5) Any time that you spent correcting the forms, fill out a time card that must be signed by NJT manager. If they refuse to sign, email me.

6) You are responsible for the information on this form, nobody can change the info but you. You are signing it, the info must be your own.

Please email me if you have concerns, have already filled them out without a time card, or were not comfortable with the information that was provided to you concerning this issue.

Fraternally,

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman

sburkert@utulocal60.com

Conductor Certification Penalty Cards

Members,

If you are on a Conductors list and are required to take an assistant conductor or a ticket collector assignment, you must fill out a penalty time card for the Conductor certification arbitrary. List it on penalty card as an 046 claim, everyday you work you need a penalty card. Please send me the time stamped 046 card and the denial so I can progress the claim.

Additionally, any student in the CTP program, follow the above instructions to claim the same arbitrary for every day you have been out qualifying. The time cards must be time stamped, original and your copy, and then get me the pay stub denial so I can progress the claim.

Fraternally,

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman

Mentor Program Resumes

The “Mentor Program” which is part of the “Conductor Training Program” will resume on Monday August 8, 2016. Modifications in the process have been enacted to provide a better learning experience for the students. There will be regular meetings between the Carrier and SMART TD to further enhance this learning period.

Fraternally,

Stephen J. Burkert

General Chairman