Workers who staff E-ZPass center vote to join union But contractor, a firm based in D.C., is challenging results of election

 

Workers who staff E-ZPass center vote to join union
But contractor, a firm based in D.C., is challenging results of election
Friday, July 10, 2009
By MAURA YATES
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Employees of Affiliated Computer Services, the company that provides service for New York's E-ZPass Customer Service Center in Travis, celebrated what they called a "victory" last night, after the majority of the workers voted to join the Communications Workers of America, Local 1102.

However, ACS is challenging the 144-126 vote before the National Labor Relations Board, claiming there may have been ballot tampering or violations of labor law.

In 2007, Washington D.C.-based ACS was awarded a 10-year, $184 million contract to operate the customer service center at its new location, 1150 South Ave.

The customer service center employs about 359 workers who handle all the back-office operations for E-ZPass, including keeping track of some 3 million local accounts, processing toll violations, generating reports and operating a telephone call center.

According to a spokesman for ACS, which earlier challenged the election results three times and filed a request for a restraining order and temporary injunction last week, the company intends to "defend the right of our employees to vote in a free and fair union election by bringing these potentially unfair practices to the attention of the National Labor Relations Board, the appropriate forum to resolve any concerns."

While they await official word of their certification as a CWA affiliate, more than 100 workers celebrated yesterday at the Hilton Garden Inn, Bloomfield.

"We feel we won, and nothing should stop our celebration," said Ed Luster, president of Local 1102. "Everybody voted. It was a democratic process," he said.

"Unfortunately ACS refuses to acknowledge this democratic vote and is now challenging the results, even though it has continuously lost each challenge in regards to this election," state Sen. Diane Savino said in a statement.

The company spokesman contends that ACS already offers good working conditions, competitive wages and benefits, and added that if employees secure representation by CWA, ACS will negotiate in good faith in hopes of finalizing a contract.

Maura Yates covers transportation news for the Advance. She may be reached at myates@siadvance.com.

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