As a result of an emotionally fired decision at an emergency MTA Board meeting, the MTA inked a $36 million contract with Kronos, Inc. to install biometric time clocks throughout the agency.
Due to its demoralizing nature, transit workers in all departments have expressed serious opposition against the biometric clocks as this new procedure requires an employee to scan their fingerprint and swipe their pass for timekeeping purposes.
The question now arises, does the MTA have the right to require that we use Kronos?
The answer is — Yes and No.
Recently, an Arbitrator ruled that registering employees in Kronos does not violate the contract, which is correct as the contract does not prohibit such. However, registering and actually using Kronos are two different things.
The implementation of Kronos for timekeeping purposes isn’t a one size fit all solution in the MTA. Some departments literally punch a clock, some already swipe and most notably, some report directly to a member of supervision. It is without a doubt that it is a basic managerial right for a company to record the attendance and presence of employees. The issue at hand is how it’s done.
In a department where employees literally punch a clock, the MTA does have a right to substitute those time clocks with Kronos as long as no additions have been made to the reporting process.
The plot thickens in schedule driven departments such as, Buses and RTO where employees report to a member of supervision to record their attendance. Requiring that transit workers in these departments sign-in on Kronos AND report to a member of supervision is the imposition of a new work rule and violates the Taylor Law unless the MTA negotiates with the Union, in which case if the MTA wants to use both methods for reporting we should receive a benefit for it.
Several rulings support this theory, however, the most notable occurred in 1987 and was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007. In 1987, the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) found that the Newburgh Enlarged City School District violated the Taylor Law when they required that members of CSEA, Local 1000 not only punch in and out on a time clock but in addition to such, sign-in and sign-out for lunch.
The Chairman of the board found that requiring the use of the time clock alone did not violate public policy but, the fact that requiring the use of a time clock paired with additional reporting requirements creates a new work rule, thus changing the terms of conditions of employment which can not be done unless the employer negotiated with the Union first.
In conclusion, the way the MTA intends to unilaterally change and add on to the sign-in/sign-out procedures in schedule driven departments is violative of the Taylor Law. Requiring that employees sign-in on Kronos and continue the past practice of reporting to a member of supervision changes our terms and conditions of employment which under the Taylor Law is illegal unless this new work rule is negotiated with Union. Furthermore, it is worthwhile noting that if the MTA and Union agree to move forward with Kronos, it is inevitable that friction between the supervisory unions that represent Dispatchers in the Department of Buses and RTO will arise as Kronos will pose a threat to their job counts as the responsibilities of a Crew Dispatcher are significantly reduced if this new technology is implemented.