The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a lawsuit alleging that Port Police and Security Guards Union, Local 1456 in Bayonne had an unfair election of union officers at the end of last year.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The 10-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court earlier today with U.S. Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su as the plaintiff earlier today, says that Local 1456 violated their bylaws during their union officer elections on November 1st, 2022.
“Defendant held ten regular membership meetings during the fifteen-month period
from July 2021 to September 2022,” the court filing contends.
“Defendant held its regular meetings in person and did not provide a virtual attendance option for any meetings it held during the fifteen-month period from July 2021 to September 2022 … To satisfy its Meeting Attendance Requirement for the 2022 Election, Defendant required its members to attend a September 2021 regular meeting.”
To that end, the lawsuit asserts that membership could only participate in their elections if they attended at least one meeting during the five separate quarters in question, as opposed to any five meetings of their choosing.
At their regular March 2022 meeting, member Vincent Rotondo suggested a bylaw amendment that would allow members who attended three meetings quarterly meetings preceding an election instead of five.
His request was denied twice, as was his request for an exemption to run for president (he had only attended two quarterly meetings prior to the election).
Rotondo filed an appeal and Timothy Holt was assigned as his special hearing officer on October 31st and the union’s decision was upheld.
While Local 1456 had 249 members at the time of their November 1st nominations meeting, only five members had attended five meetings – one in each of the five quarters preceding the election.
Members Sam Dokus, Kevin Serras, and Armando Saverino were disqualified as candidates for that reason and ultimately Mohamed Arbab was nominated for President, Matthew Sarrao was nominated for Vice President, Pedro Sousa was nominated for Recording
Secretary, Richard Rossiello was nominated for Secretary-Treasurer Business Agent, and James Valdes was nominated for Sergeant-at-Arms.
On November 15th, Rotondo filed a complaint with the secretary of labor and eventually extensions were granted so that the suit could be filed today.
“Defendant violated section 401(e) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 481(e), when it maintained and applied a meeting attendance candidacy qualification that was unreasonable as applied to members in the 2022 Election, for a variety of reasons,” the suit says.
“Including that: (a) it required candidates to attend a September 2021 meeting over a year before the 2022 election; (b) it required candidates to attend at least five out of ten meetings over a fifteen-month period; (c) it did not permit candidates to attend any five meetings, but required one meeting each quarter; (d) it provided a limited excuse provision that was administered by the incumbent officers; and (e) it rendered ninety-eight percent of its membership ineligible to be a candidate and to hold office.”
As a result, the suit seeks to the void the November 1st election results, compel a new election to be held, attorneys’ fees, and any other relief the court deems just and equitable.
Although this case has nothing to do with municipal government, it is the second significant lawsuit to hit Bayonne since February 8th.
On that date, the New Jersey Comptroller’s Office filed a lawsuit against the city for ignoring an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, and then a subpoena, seeking documents related to the sale of the former Marist High School.