Union 245 and Teamsters Local 641 are fighting over former Jersey City Incinerator Authority (JCIA) employees, now part of the Department of Public Works (DPW), for union representation.
A resolution, which was being reviewed, allows former JCIA employees – who are currently under the division of Neighborhood Improvement and Sanitation – to stay with Union 641, but this would go against the city’s agreement with Union 245 – which states that all DPW employees are a part of this union.
“We’ve been representing DPW for 55 years. Also the mayor wanted to bring everything in one house and one entity. They did with JCIA now,” explained Santo DellaMonica, president of Union 245.
“We have a clause in our contract that says all departments of DPW are in 245 and Recreation. So by voting yes, this will be breaking our contract.”
DellaMonica also explained that former JCIA employees such as “equipment operators, heavy equipment operators, we have mechanics, when these folks were brought in to DPW, they make a higher salary than we do, $15,000.”
“Mechanics on one side of the shop is making $15,000 more than the other side of the shop.”
According to DellaMonica, they are below fair market value and “bringing in a fourth union is not the answer.”
On the other hand Jim Kilkenny, who represents the members of the JCIA via Teamsters Local 641, believes the members should have a right to choose.
“Our members voted unanimously to stay as teamsters,” he said succinctly.”
As a reply to DellaMonica on the salary discrepancy, “I have never heard of a union brother upset that another union has better contract then them. If they don’t have what we got shame on them.”
The former JCIA employees has agreed to a 3 year salary freeze although this will not fill the salary gap.
Union 245 submitted a file against Teamsters Union 641 via Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) for coming into Jersey City.
It was Ward D Councilman Michael Yun who suggested that the council members should leave it to the experts.
“We are not labor specialists, So let those people decide, a person who knows labor laws and the rules and regulations and that both parties, they have to speak those times,” Yun explained.
“So I think the proper way for this council is to table it, or whatever we take action, with all do respect to the two organizations, two unions.
The rest of the council ultimately agreed with their colleague and the resolution was tabled.
After months of discussion, Mayor Steven Fulop announced in September that the state had approved merging the JCIA with the city’s Department of Public Works.
The announcement came after tons of controversy within the JCIA, including three employees being arrested in an alleged scheme to sell construction debris for cash and longtime agency Executive Director Oren Dabney retiring.
The Jersey City Council formally approved the merger back in October, though issues surrounding the situation clearly continue to linger.