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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Right to challenge upheld in Local 1455 traffic ticket case


An impartial arbitrator sided with the union to protect two Local 1455 members’ rights to challenge traffic tickets before a judge and ruled that the Dept. of Transportation violated the City Vehicle Driver Handbook when it failed to notify the DOT drivers of the summonses within a reasonable time frame.

“We usually resolve differences amicably in labor-management meetings, but we filed and expedited this grievance — and won — proving that by failing to notify the two Traffic Device Maintainers of the tickets, DOT in effect denied the employees the right to challenge the traffic violations in a court of law,” explained Local 1455 President Mike DeMarco.

While driving DOT vehicles, TDMs Oleg Pitel and Isaak Bitchine each incurred moving violations. Pitel incurred a school zone camera violation in June 2015. The agency notified him in July 2017, more than two years later. Bitchine received a red light ticket on a DOT vehicle in November 2014. The agency also notified him in July 2017, nearly three years later. The tickets were $50 each. Once DOT notified them, both TDMs paid the tickets — and called their union.

The union’s grievance alleged that DOT violated the City Vehicle Driver Handbook Sections 8.2.1, 8.2.2, and 8.2.3, which give drivers 100 days to dispute a traffic violation.

DeMarco said, “The agency notified these members years later, so they couldn’t get a hearing and they didn’t have an opportunity to appeal to a judge. Our contract affords city employees that right and the union was determined to fight to protect that right.” The grievance was denied at Steps 2 and 3, so the union went to arbitration with help from DC 37 Assistant General Counsel Seth York.

On April 26, 2019, after a careful consideration of the record evidence, an impartial arbitrator determined that the Grievants should not be penalized for the Dept. of Finance’s error and ordered DOT to reimburse the two grievants. We are so happy about this victory, said DeMarco. “It’s not only about the $50. Most important this is about defending my members to show the value of belonging to a union and protecting their right to due process — and preserving all of their rights — under the city contract.”