IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro, Esq. Wins Arbitration Award Compelling Employer to Release Union Officials From Work.

In March 2022 two union officials requested time off from their midnight shift to attend union meetings beginning during regular business hours, after 8am. The County denied that request because the union meetings did not start until after the officials’ shifts ended. We very quickly went to the Supreme Court, Ulster County and convinced a Judge to prohibit the County from denying union officials’ from using County-paid release time until the parties go to arbitration to resolve the dispute.

At arbitration, the County argued the union meetings did not start until after the officials’ shifts ended and, in any event, the contract did not require them to release union officials from their shift before the union meetings occurred. They also argued releasing the officials would impact on staffing, which is a managerial prerogative, particularly when their shifts did not occur during the Union business.

We are happy to report that, in addition to convincing a judge to prevent them, pending arbitration, from denying union release time, the arbitrator agreed with the Union and sustained the grievance. She held there was a longstanding practice consistent with the Union’s position, and rejected the County’s staffing arguments to the contrary. 

RITU Secures New Contract with PATH.

IDC&W congratulates General President Shaam Somwaru and the Board of the Railway Independent Transit Union and the union members employed by the Port Authority Trans Hudson Railroad (PATH) on the overwhelming ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement. In particular, the union is commended for successfully breaking a decade long deadlock, shoring up both the health and pension benefits and increasing salaries by over 30%.

IDC&W Partner Howard Wien served as counsel to the RITU in the negotiations with PATH.

IDCW Helps Save Pension Benefits.

Congratulations to Trustees Jeff Stark and Todd Helfrich and to all the participants of the Glens Fall Painters Pension Fund in securing financial security for the fund by obtaining Special Financial Assistance under the American Rescue Plan. This Fund is one of the first in the nation to receive assistance under this program.  The financial assistance will permit a fund that was in critical and declining status to pay its retirees full benefits for the duration of their retirements. The assistance reverses benefit cuts that were required when the fund was granted ordinary assistance from the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation during 2021.

The Glens Fall Pension Fund is a perfect example of why a program such as the SFA is necessary. Due to changing industrial trends, the local union that originally sponsored the Fund was merged by its international union with another local. As a result, contributions were no longer payable to the Fund by the vast majority of area contractors in the Fund’s industry. As contributions dried up, however, the Fund was still mandated to pay benefits that participants had accrued during their years of employment.  As these payments were made, the fund spiraled closer and closer to insolvency necessitating a PBGC loan. PBGC loans are conditioned on major reductions in benefits. This meant that participants would receive only a small fraction of what they were originally entitled to under the benefit plan. All of this was occurring without any fault by the participants or the Fund’s trustees. Special Financial Assistance prevented a very real injustice to the Fund’s participants who can now trust that their retirements are secure. 

Howard Wien served as counsel to the Fund during its transactions with the PBGC.

IDCWLaw by Partner Liam L. Castro, Esq., Wins Pay Lawsuit For Military Reservists Called to Active Duty.

It is critical for us to support our military personnel.  IDCWLaw did just that.  Two Mount Vernon police officers were called to active duty to assist our nation with the government’s COVID-19 response.  While supporting our nation during the first pandemic in a century, they asked the City of Mount Vernon Police Department for military pay differential; that is the difference between their higher police officer pay and the military pay they were receiving while deployed.  They were losing income while supporting us.  But, the City of Mount Vernon said no because they were not deployed overseas, but were instead only responding to a COVID-19 national pandemic emergency.  IDCWLaw, with the assistance of the Mount Vernon PBA, sued the City and Police Department.  After the City continued to fight against these national heroes in Court, and our continued advocacy, on June 8, 2022, the Westchester County Supreme Court ordered the City to make these payments immediately.  The Court held the City was wrong.  We are thrilled for this victory for two reservists who rightly deserve our support.

IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro Receives Restraining Order Prohibiting Ulster County From Denying Union Client Officials’ Release Time.

We are happy to announce that today the Supreme Court, Ulster County issued against the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and Ulster County, pending arbitration, an injunction prohibiting them from denying union officials’ from using County-paid release time.  In early March a union client requested time off for two union officials’ midnight shift (12-8) to attend union meetings beginning at about 8am.  The County argued the union meetings did not start until after the officials’ shift ended.  We convinced the judge that requiring the officials to work their shift, and then work an additional shift for union meetings was unfair at this stage; that an arbitrator would decide this case soon; and there is no meaningful remedy and arbitrator could impose after the union meetings occurred.  As a result, the County issued an injunction prohibiting the County and Sheriff’s Department, pending arbitration, from requiring them to work during a 24-hour period.

IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro and Union Client Win Over $260,000 Settlement for 86 Union Members.

We are thrilled to announce IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro’s and Nassau County Sheriff’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association Vice President Dennis Maurus’ tireless effort and advocacy resulted in a settlement with Nassau County worth over $260,000 for 86 union members, active and retired.  About one year ago, we learned the County withheld federal income taxes that it should not have. The County failed to timely request that money back from the IRS, resulting in a permanent forfeiture of that money.  Once the union and we learned of this, both Mr. Castro and Mr. Maurus contacted over 100 members to ask if we could bring an action against the County.  With almost 100 members’ consent, we filed against the County a Notice of Claim.  Later, we negotiated with the County a full 100% reimbursement of the lost tax monies.  After obtaining 86 signed settlement agreements, and pushing the County to sign it, this week the Nassau County Legislature voted to approve the settlement.

IDCWLaw Partner Howard Wien’s and Our Client’s Recent Agreement Featured in The Chief Leader.

THE CHIEF LEADER MTA’s Deputy Supers, Asst. GMs Gain Pact 


Dec 23, 2021

A LONG RIDE PAYS OFF: The leadership of the United Transit Leadership Organization had reason to feel good after completing a contract deal for Metropolitan Transportation Authority managers who five years ago were not entitled to union representation. 

Close to 1,000 managers in the titles of Deputy Superintendent and Assistant General Superintendent with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Headquarters, Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operation Authority, New York City Transit Authority, and MTA bus have secured a new union contract after the agency’s board voted Dec. 15 to approve it.

The contract is the first for the union’s membership in the MTA’s Departments of Subways and Support Services and the second in its Department of Buses.

The 30-month contract is effective July 1, 2019, runs until Dec. 31, and provides two 2-percent raises for employees, whose salaries range from $86,000 to $135,000. 

Union Rights Came Late

The deal was reached almost five years after the Subway-Surface Supervisors Association funded a grass-roots organizing campaign that resulted in the recognition of the United Transit Leadership Organization and the creation of an international union, the National Association of Transportation Supervisors

“At every salary grade we negotiated salary increases and got a commuter pass for Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Railroad as well as for Express Bus,” said Mario Bucceri, president of the UTLO. “And when we got the commuter pass, it even got extended for the non-represented managers.”

He said that checks implementing retroactive pay from the deal, which will be disbursed separately, will total several thousand dollars, with amounts depending on members’ base pay. 

Mr. Bucceri said his union had also codified “significant improvements” in the discipline and grievance processes for his members. “In the past, arbitration was only triggered by a dismissal or demotion—now we have expanded it to 30-day suspensions,” he said.

‘No More Begging’ 

Cassius Pryce, UTLO’s senior vice president of subways, said the formation of the union had dramatically improved the represented positions.

“For years the MTA and New York City Transit had treated their managers as second-class citizens,” Mr. Pryce said. “For a period of several years from 2007 until 2014, they gave us no general wage increase. It was always budgeted to give their managers a 2-percent raise and they just chose not to give it.”

He continued, “Now, instead of begging and crying, now that we have a union it’s totally different. They have to sit down at the table and negotiate with us. They have to talk with us. We never had that before.”

Mr. Pryce said the pandemic, which has killed more than 180 MTA employees, had created a renewed sense of solidarity among his co-workers in the managerial workforce.

‘We Show Up Every Day’

“Most of the senior managerial staff worked remotely and only returned to work on Nov. 15,” he said. “The front-line managers like myself had to show up for work every single day. I cannot run a train from my living room. I have to do it from the Control Room. That’s where I work.”

Mr. Bucceri said that UTLO’s titles had seen a jump in retirements and that the labor shortage had played to the union’s advantage at the bargaining table.

The union president, who started with the MTA as a cleaner in 1982, added that management was having a hard time finding managers from within the transit agency to fill the slots he represents because in the past SSSA members did not want to move into those jobs and lose their union representation.

According to Howard Wien, the attorney for both the UTLO and its international union, the latter successfully petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to “represent employees of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail in New Jersey. We were also successful at getting certification for the buses division at NJ Transit.”

Michael Carrube, president of SSSA and the international president of the NATS, said the pandemic had sparked calls from workers all over the country looking to be organized. “During the last year, because essential workers were getting abused on the job throughout the pandemic and a lot of them were managers…I got a call from a doctor” seeking a union.

IDC&WLaw Secures Second CBA Ratification this Month!

On November 29th, IDC&WLaw client, the United Transit Leadership Organization, secured ratification by its membership of a new collective bargaining agreement with several affiliates of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority by an incredible vote of 387-10, or 97.5%.

The agreement calls for two annual compounded 2% raises over 30 months, improvements to the grievance and arbitration procedures, two employer-paid released union officials, improvements in time and leave policies and an unprecedented increase in the minimum salaries at each salary grade, known as “compression” levels.

The agreement covers approximately 1,000 MTA employees.

Howard Wien served as counsel to the UTLO for these negotiations 

IDCWLaw Negotiates a 5 Year Contract for Municipal Workers With No Give Backs and a COVID Bonus.

For decades, IDC&W Law has helped unions collectively bargain with employers, negotiating long and short term contracts in both the public and private sectors.  Recently, we successfully negotiated a five year contract for a municipal union, with 13.67% total wage increases, compounded over the term, plus an additional hourly wage increase for three of the five year term.  Certain increases were obtained for shift differential and longevity  payments as well as a 25% increase in sick leave.  Last, employees who retire with 10 to 15 years receive 50% health insurance coverage, which increases at 20 years retirement.  A one-time COVID bonus was also secured for qualifying members who worked during the height of the pandemic.

Not only did the relevant legislature ratify that contract, but the membership did as well with over 90% voting YES.

The union was represented by IDC&W Law Partner Steven Isaacs.