May 23, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Bronx, NY—Michael Cordiello, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union 1181 representing school bus drivers, campaigned on Friday morning in the Bronx as he goes up against a unified opposition. WATCH VIDEO INTERVIEW OF MICHAEL CORDIELLO
In this week’s The Chief, the New York City-based weekly civil service newspaper, the editor wrote a lead story about how dissidents within Local 1181, who were divided three years ago, are now united to tackle Mr. Cordiello.
We met Mr. Cordiello as he was campaigning along Zerega Avenue in the Bronx outside the Consolidated Bus Company depot. He said he was there to let his members know how he and his slate are working hard to reinstate the Employee Protection Provisions that former mayor Michael Bloomberg yanked from Department of Education contracts with school bus companies last year.
“We’re working hard with the new administration; in fact there are pending meetings going on right now [with the mayor]. We will continue to work to reinstate the past glory of this union,” said Cordiello.
According to the story, the opposition, led by Members for Change United leader and long-time bus driver Tommy Salerno, is accusing the incumbent of not being aggressive enough to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs since Mr. Bloomberg axed the EPP.
But Cordiello said it’s easy for people who are not in leadership to say what should or shouldn’t have been done.
“Faced with the real facts, I don’t know that anybody would have done anything different than what I have done. When you are the incumbent, you have to be honest and truthful, even if the truth is painful,” said Cordiello.
The opposition is also criticizing the Cordiello camp for intimidating members not to talk with the Members for Change United slate when they visit work depots.
But Cordiello said that it’s the opposition that is intimidating members.
“We have never intimidated anybody. We don’t do that. But over the past three years there have been 15 claims of intimidation by the opposition, but each one has been dismissed by the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board],” Cordiello said.
In fact, he noted, just before the morning interview he got a call from a delegate at the Grandpa’s Bus Company in Queens that the opposition is telling members they shouldn't enter Grandpa's property if they aren’t voting for the Salerno camp.
“They’re the intimidators,” said Cordiello.
Cordiello argues that it’s the opposition that is carrying on a campaign of misinformation. When asked which particular bit of misinformation bothers him most, he said it’s the one on pensions. The opposition is claiming that the union under Cordiello’s leadership hasn’t had an increase in pension payments for the last four years.
“They’re telling people that the pension is only 50 percent funded. It is actually 83 percent funded; it’s a healthy pension plan,” said Cordiello.
It was in February 2013 when Cordiello and Local 1181’s executive board called off the one-month strike after the then-Democratic candidates for mayor reassured them that they would reinstate the EPP should they become mayor. The Chief story argues that Cordiello is sure to benefit should Mayor Bill de Blasio decide to reinstate the EPP.
When asked whether he believes the mayor will do so, Mr. Cordiello said he sure hopes so.
“I would hope that he does. We spoke to the Mayor a couple of weeks ago; we’re consistently pushing our issue, we’re not going to stop till we win the EPP back."
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