Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Jersey Turnpike, paintballing on a crowded night...Mister State Tollman, please don't shoot me...

Positive Liberty posts an amazing story.

So there’s this toll collector in New Jersey named Jason Glassey. And one day, when he gets off duty, he’s feeling a little stressed. So he gets in his car, still wearing his uniform, and drives along the Turnpike until he gets stuck in traffic behind a van. Like many folks, he scoots over to the right lane and passes the van. And like any good, sensible public employee, as he’s passing the van, he reaches over for his paintball gun and shoots at the van that has caused the backup.

After the incident, his union contested his attempted firing, and an arbitrator and the New Jersey State Supreme Court agreed that there were no grounds for termination.

The ruling upholds a January 2005 finding by an independent arbitrator that Jason Glassey — who has already served an 11-month unpaid suspension and continues to undergo psychological examinations as part of the arbitrator's decision — resume his old job.

The justices ruled on a narrow issue of law involving whether public policy was properly considered in the decision to fire or rehire Glassey. A June 2006 ruling by the Appellate Division of Superior Court upheld Glassey's firing, finding that “the public policy against shooting or hurling objects at a moving vehicle could not be clearer.”

But the state Supreme Court found that the appeals court should not have focused on Glassey's conduct but instead on the ruling by the arbitrator.

While the state Supreme Court admitted that “reasonable minds may disagree” about whether Glassey should be fired or rehired, the arbitrator's decision was the result of a contract agreement between Glassey's union, Local 196 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

So let's find out about the union:

We balance the broad range of our members' interests by adhering to democratic processes and consensus decision-making. A Union principle taught by Samuel Gompers--"An injury to one is an injury to all"--guides our Union as we work to represent the full range of our members' interests, and to organize the unorganized.

Good to know that they protect the members' interests to shoot up cars at the members' worksite. And the members' interests to engage in sophisticated political campaigning on company time:

Glassey's father, Stanley “Jake” Glassey, is the deputy mayor of Egg Harbor Township.

The elder Glassey has labeled his son's situation as “political.”

An internal investigation by authority officials related to the paintball shooting revealed that Jason Glassey had been distributing crudely altered parkway pamphlets to tollbooth customers. The pamphlets, which include parkway maps and other guides, featured photographs of then-Gov. James E. McGreevey — a Democrat — and an authority supervisor with black eyes, glasses and mustaches drawn on them and expletives written beside them.

Glasses and mustaches? Is this Benny Hill, or elementary school?


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Anthony said...

I work for a utility company, and we have had union members re-hired after being fired for being completely responsible for having a customer's house blow up.

So, in the grand scheme (the only scheme that matters) a painball attack is a bag of shells.

One would think that toll taking is not such a specialized skill that one could not shake a nearby tree and find a few, so it makes one wonder why it would be necessary to (a) protect them with a labor union or (b) defend their actions.

Ontario Emperor said...

The one drawback of an adversarial relationship between a union and an employer is that the union by nature becomes more interested in the short-term welfare of its members than in the long-term viability of the members' employer. (Of course, the employer can also be short-sighted via cost overcutting.)

As a result, the union has no interest in deflecting the public relations nightmares when employees shoot at customers, or when houses blow up.

As to why you can't shake a tree to get new workers...inertia. The only way that the workers could be replaced would be if the union decided to strike, and if new workers were brought in (a la the air traffic controllers, who had significantly higher qualifications).