IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro, Esq., Convinces PERB to Find Ulster County Violated the Taylor Law By Changing Supervisor’s Shifts

At IDCWLaw creativity in arguing our cases is a bedrock principle. We took that principle and applied it to what seemingly was a staffing change, which is often a managerial prerogative. The Ulster County Sheriff’s Department supervisors work a different schedule than correction officers. The Department took the position that the scheduling disparity created supervisory overstaffing for one hour and supervisory understaffing for another hour. That is why they decided to change the supervisors’ start and end time of their shifts, to equalize their supervisory staffing levels.

We challenged their decision to change the supervisor’s shift schedules, though it seemingly concerned staffing. We argued there was no evidence of a change in required staffing levels with the State Commission of Correction, but rather, this involved merely a change to the first line supervisors’ shift pattern. We also argued that no contractual provision reserved this kind of change to the Department, without negotiation. PERB agreed, and further held there was a sufficiently long practice of the then-current supervisor schedule such that members reasonably believed it would continue absent negotiations. PERB ordered the shifts revert back to what it was before the change, and that all affected members be compensated for any financial loss.

RITU Foremen Ratify New Collective Bargaining Agreement

Congratulations are again in order for the Railway Independent Transit Union, to its President Shaam Somwaru, its board and all its members serving as Foremen at the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) railroad.

On October 18, 2022, the Foremen overwhelmingly ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. This was the first CBA since the Foremen elected to forego representation by the American Railway and Airway Supervisors Association (“ARASA”) and, instead, join the RITU.  That occurred on March 4, 2020, a time when it had been eight years since the Foremen’s CBA had expired.

In reaching this agreement RITU was able to preserve and strengthen the Foremen’s health and pension benefits and secure immediate increases in wages of over 30% with full retroactivity.

President Somwaru assumed the RITU Presidency during 2021 upon the retirement of his predecessor.

This is the third successful collective bargaining agreement reached by President Somwaru this year after nearly a decade of deadlocked negotiations for all three RITU bargaining units.

Howard Wien of IDC&W served as counsel to RITU during RITU’s collective bargaining.

IDCWLaw Partner Howard Wien negotiates and secures ratification of new collective bargaining agreement.

Congratulations are again in order for the Railway Independent Transit Union, to its board and all its members serving as Tower Operators at the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) railroad. 

On August 8, 2022, the Tower Operators overwhelmingly ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. This was the first CBA since the Tower Operators elected to forego representation by the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union (“SMART”) and, instead, join the RITU.  That occurred on July 29, 2020, a time when it had been nine years since the Tower Operators’ CBA had expired. 

In reaching this agreement RITU was able to preserve and strengthen the Tower Operators’ health and pension benefits and secure immediate increases in wages of over 30% with full retroactivity. 

Howard Wien of IDC&W served as counsel to RITU during this collective bargaining.

IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro, Esq. Wins Battle to Compel the City of New York to Pay Union Members for Taking Away Vehicle Privileges.

IDCWLaw has extensive experience challenging municipal decisions to take away economic benefits from union members without bargaining.  This month, August 2022, after extensive arguments from Mr. Castro, the New York City Office of Collective Bargaining ordered the City of New York to reimburse all affected employees for their mileage and tolls because the City unilaterally took away from union members their take-home vehicles without first negotiating with the union.  In UFADBA v. City of New York, the union initially challenged the City’s decision to take away the vehicles. And, about one year ago OCB held the City improperly took away those vehicles. However, when it came to the remedy, the City, in negotiations, believed the only individuals who were entitled to any compensation were those who actually had the vehicles, not anyone else who would have received the vehicles but for the City’s decision to take them away. They also argued that benefit ended when the contract expired. Mr. Castro refused to give up on those other employees, and took the matter back to OCB to argue the City was again wrong, this time as to who was entitled to compensation and for how long.  In August 2022, OCB agreed with all our arguments, and ordered the City to pay anyone who had or would have had the vehicles but for the City’s decision, that the City pay them for every mile they drove or will drive until the union and City come to an agreement otherwise, and to reimburse their tolls in the City.  We are thrilled that the City’s disregard for the rights of union-represented members were vindicated in this case.

IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro, Esq. Wins Supreme Court Decision Reinstating Town Employee.

IDCWLaw has extensive experience with civil service disciplinary matters, up to and including termination.  For decades we have represented civil servants in disciplinary hearings and in appeals of disciplinary decisions before the Civil Service Commission and in State Supreme Court.  Just this month, August 2022, IDCWLaw Partner Liam L. Castro, Esq. convinced a Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice to overturn the Town of Islip’s decision to terminate an employee, in McMaster v. Town of Islip.   There, after a hearing, the Town terminated the employee for excessive absenteeism.  On appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr. Castro successfully argued that the Town’s decision was excessive. He also successfully argued the Town ignored the fact that a supervisor testified other employees had similar attendance records but were not disciplined.  He explained the Town did not give the employee a fair chance at the hearing, in the end. Specifically, they initially fired the employee, after a hearing, without even providing him a copy of the disciplinary Report and Recommendation. Mr. Castro convinced the Town that was plainly improper, which resulted in the initial rescission of the termination to give the employee and Mr. Castro a chance to respond to the Report and Recommendation.  The Town even had to recuse the Department’s commissioner from the final decision because of this initial decision to terminate the employee improperly But, in the end, they fired the employee anyway. Mr. Castro argued that the Town was heavy handed and did not give the employee a fair due process hearing.  As a result, the Court ordered him reinstated and remanded the matter back to the Town for a more appropriate penalty.