Transit- Rule Bus Operator’s Union Job a Shield Against Harass Rap – The Chief: News Of The Week

Posted: August 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Aug. 5, 2013

An arbitrator ruled July 30 that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority cannot discipline Tony Aiken, a Bus Operator the agency found guilty of sexually harassing female supervisors, while he’s on the union payroll.

In April, MTA investigators found that Mr. Aiken made inappropriate sexual comments to female employees at Kingsbridge Bus Depot, while he was also working part-time for Transport Workers Union Local 100 on an MTA salary.

Union Role Saves Him

But while the MTA was investigating the claims against Mr. Aiken in January, Local 100 President John Samuelsen asked that he be able to hire him to do full-time union work, and the MTA agreed.

Union officials then argued that Mr. Aiken couldn’t be disciplined while he was on union release. Arbitrator Richard Adelman agreed, saying that the agency could have forbidden the hiring.

Employees who break the rules while on full-time union salaries can’t be disciplined by the authority, according to the collective-bargaining agreement as it’s been interpreted by arbitrators. That includes serious offenses such as assault and battery and willful damage to MTA property. The rule was intended to prevent the agency from retaliating against union officials for their organizing work.

But previous arbitrators hadn’t settled what to do in situations like Mr. Aiken’s, Mr. Adelman said, making his ruling potentially precedent-setting. He noted that the MTA could still pursue charges against the former Bus Operator “in other venues.”

Agency officials would not reveal whether they were planning to do so.

None of the women that Mr. Aiken harassed agreed to talk to THE CHIEF-LEADER about the decision.

Local 100 attorney Arthur Schwartz said the ruling significantly expands protections for union staff, and that it could result in Mr. Aiken getting his MTA identification back, which would allow him to enter MTA property unaccompanied again. Mr. Schwartz said he expects the agency to appeal the decision.

via Rule Bus Operator’s Union Job a Shield Against Harass Rap – The Chief: News Of The Week.

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