Two Teamsters Local 727 parking members have been awarded reinstatement with close to $100,000 in back pay more than a year after Impark management violated the contract by not retaining the employees when it took over a location from Standard Parking.
“Our members did absolutely nothing wrong, but management’s disregard for the collective bargaining agreement forced these hardworking women to endure unnecessary hardships,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727.
The local union was notified Nov. 30, 2011, that Standard Parking was leaving the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center parking location. Local 727 received a completed Change of Location form on Dec. 22, 2011, stating that Impark was acquiring the location. However, longtime members Phyllis Cole, a facility manager, and Cynthia Muhammad, a cashier, were not retained as employees when Impark assumed operations of the location on Dec. 31, 2011.
“The financial burden, it’s been really hard. I have three kids -- two in college -- I’m a homeowner, and I’m a widow, so everything falls on me,” said Cole, a 17-year Standard Parking employee. “One of my daughters had to drop out of Urbana-Champaign and move back home to finish her last year of college because we just couldn’t afford the dorm and tuition.”
Article 33.2 of the collective bargaining agreement states any employee who has continuously worked at a location for 180 days or more will be retained by the acquiring employer when said employer acquires a new location. Cole had worked at the JTDC location for two years and Muhammad had been there for nine years, so the union quickly filed a grievance on their behalf.
“Changes of location happen frequently in the parking industry, and for that very reason, and there is specific contract language to protect our members’ jobs during these times of transition,” Coli said. “Management very clearly violated these contract terms, and as a result, two of our members were made to suffer. It’s a shame.”
The union took the case to arbitration, and the hearing was held Sept. 26, 2012. The arbitrator handed down a final and binding decision Jan. 14, 2013, and found that Impark management violated the contract. He awarded Cole and Muhammad reinstatement to their former positions at the JTDC with their seniority intact, as well as full back pay totaling close to $100,000 and nearly $30,000 in benefits contributions.
“It was devastating,” Cole said. “When I started as a part-time cashier in 1995, I didn’t have anything, but I worked for everything I received and came up from the bottom. To be treated like that, to be overlooked, was just devastating.
“I wouldn’t ever want to go through this again, but (my union representatives) made things a lot less painful.”
The arbitrator also ruled that Impark management violated Article 28.1 of the contract, which forbids employers from making side agreements directly with employees without union representation.
“It is important for members to know that their employers should not be dealing with them directly; members should always have a Local 727 representative with them when it comes to important matters on the job,” Coli said.
Teamsters Local 727 is an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, which represents more than 125,000 hardworking men and women throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana.