Press Release/Legislation

Press Release/Legislation

MIKE CARRUBE: Managers need a union too.


Posted: Monday, August 10, 2015


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority squared off Aug. 4 with a group of transit managers looking to form a union, some of whom have also learned they are being courted by another bargaining unit.

At the conference before Administrative Law Judge Elena Cacavas, the MTA’s attorneys argued as expected that the employees—who hold titles ranging from Superintendent to General Manager—are ineligible to unionize.

Are They Managers?

Under state law, those with managerial duties can’t collectively bargain. That includes people who formulate policy, take a major role in hiring and firing, and bargain over contracts.

Subway Surface Supervisors Association President Mike Carrube helped some of the 1,200 managers in three divisions form a non-profit called the United Transit Leadership Organization. Its leaders submitted about 550 cards to the state Public Employment Relations Board requesting to form a union.

But Transport Workers Union Local 106, which represents more than 1,100 supervisors, also requested to bid for about 110 Superintendents in the MTA Bus division. To be in the running, it will have to collect signatures from at least 30 percent of them by Sept. 21, when the parties are due to meet again.

The MTA hired Proskauer Rose, an international law firm that represents clients like Madonna and Kanye West along with many major U.S. sports organizations, to fight the organizing attempt.

Mr. Carrube claims that the employees, though managers in the colloquial sense, don’t fit the state’s definition because they don’t set policy or bargain. He said they need a union because while many make six figures, they sometimes earn less than those they supervise. Other long-time managers, due to quirks in the hiring system, make significantly less than colleagues who joined much la­ter, even though they have the same duties.

The SSSA leader scoffed at the idea that Local 106—still known casually under its old name, the Transit Supervisors Organization—would successfully wrest the 110 Superintendents from the UTLO.

‘Done Absolutely Nothing’

“The TSO’s been around almost as long as the SSSA and the TSO has done absolutely nothing—nothing—in all these years in regards to organizing,” Mr. Carrube said in a phone interview last week. “And all of a sudden we come on the scene in March and have been on an organizing frenzy and all of a sudden they want to jump on our bandwagon. And they don’t have what it takes.”

He argued that the UTLO was a better fit because its leaders planned to form an autonomous local under the SSSA. He also claimed that the TWU—Local 106’s parent union—was ill-suited to represent managers because it primarily represents hour­ly workers.

Local 106 President Vincent Modafferi disputed that claim, saying that the MTA Bus employees would benefit from the considerable resources that TWU would bring.

“We are a fully auton­o­mous local of the International Union, as is Local 100,” he said. “Why would a manager who does not directly supervise the hourly employees have a problem with our affiliation with the TWU International?”

He said his union had begun organizing another group of supervisors—Maintenance Supervisors Level II—“long before” Mr. Carrube and his team took office, and noted that the SSSA had then intervened to represent them.

He added that many current Superintendents were his members before they were promoted.

“We cannot allow our former members to have a union that has absolutely no experience to negotiate a contract for them,” he said.