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Post ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Mon May 24, 2010 6:01 pm
tony battisti

Is anyone coming to the rescue?

It appears that JBLC, its By Laws, Constitution and Seniority Rules are being supplanted by the mandates of the NYSLC. Changes are being made to the structure of the JBLC in ways that bypass general membership; and, are being done without prior notice to the BRA, thereby preventing the BRA from representing and protecting their crews.

The May 20, 2010 Bucket & Buoy, page 2, column 1, starting with “Due Process” states:

After a lengthy and often contentious re-examination of our seniority system, we arrived at a more streamlined version. In direct consultation with NYSUT Legal, language was simplified and clarified, and certain terms were removed. The items removed were proven to be in direct opposition to the “universal union understandings” that serve as the foundation for all labor unions.

(Bucket & Buoy, 5/20/2010, p2, col.1)

This paragraph is false and misleading. That language suggests that the BRA and Executive Board had engaged in a wonderfully democratic debate that resulted in better version of the JBLC Seniority Rules. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was never a re-examination of the Seniority System at all, this winter. It says our rules were PROVEN to be in violation of this alleged concept. PROVEN by whom, to whom? This never came up at a BRA meeting.

This winter the BRA attempted to deal with only two issues that affected seniority: 1) Should we do away with the In-House rule; and, 2) Should the concept of Bumping be added to the Seniority Rules? What was decided was that these issues must ultimately be put to a General Membership vote before any change would take place – as the rules require. That vote has been taken away from the JBLC General Membership, and we may never get it back.

I believe we are witnessing the supplanting of the JBLC with the NYSLC. Whether by accident or design, if we continue to let this happen the JBLC will be considered defunct, and will cease to be recognized as a representative agency of the Jones Beach-Robert Moses Lifeguards, leaving the statewide, NYSLC as our only representative body.

Some background:
First you have to remember that the JBLC is now part of the NYS Lifeguard Corp – remember last summer when we voted to become part of that larger, statewide union. And both the JBLC and the NYS Lifeguard Corps both exist within NYSUT-UUP – that is our collective bargaining agent.

Tom Donovan and Bruce Meirowitz, hold officer positions in both the JBLC and the NYSLC. Meirowitz is President of the NYSLC and Donovan is the First Vice President. Meirowtiz is the First Vice President of the JBLC where Donovan is the President. As officers of the NYSLC they purport to follow the counsel of the NYSUT “leadership” and its lawyers.

On May 19, 2010, Meirowitz and Donovan – with the balance of the JBLC Executive Board that bothered to show-up, sitting mute and in direct contradiction to the unanimous Executive Board and BRA decision and the explicit terms of the JBLC Seniority Rules that this issue must go to a JBLC General Membership vote – announced that the In-House Rule had been abolished.

Here’s how it happened:

On May 14, 2010, without prior notice to the BRA, Meirowitz, as President of the NYSLC wrote the following letter to Tom Donovan, President of the JBLC:

May 14, 2010

Thomas Donovan
President JBLC
PO Box 683
Babylon, NY 11702


After lengthy discussions between members of NYSUT & UUP leadership, NYSLC President and Executive Board and the JBLC President, and its Executive Board, there is agreement that the JBLC “In-House Transfer Rule (pre-draft change of status is in contradiction to the universal union understandings of straight seniority.

It is the responsibility of all unions to protect member’s rights to employment. Furthermore, they must ensure that these rules apply equally and fairly to all members.

Therefore, under the advisement of NYSUT legal and the NYSLC Executive Board, it is recommended that the JBLC Beach Representative Assembly affirm and comply with the recommendation to remove Article XI, Section2: Note from the JBLC Seniority Rules.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

In Solidarity,

Bruce Meirowitz
President, NYSLC

No proposal to abolish the In-House Rule in this manner, by bypassing the General Membership was ever announced at any BRA meeting this winter. The BRA was never consulted on this move and therefore, we could never alert our crews that this might happen.

On May 19, 2010 when the BRA reconvened for what the Beach Reps believed was to be a discussion on the three questions that were tabled at the conclusion of the April 14, 2010 meeting – those were: Whether to put the In-House rule to a Gen. Membership vote; Whether to incorporate the Seniority Rules into the By Laws; and, whether there should be a displaced draft this year?

All of the Beach Reps had gone out to their crews to get the answers to those questions. (The number of lifeguards that actually got back to their Beach Rep with their votes, in this day and age of email, was simply atrocious.) Nevertheless, the Beach Reps went through the trouble of at least trying to follow the democratic process. As it turned out this was just a waste of time.

The May 19, 2010 meeting:

President Donovan started off the meeting with the announcement that the In-House rule was now out. Everyone will go to the general draft. This did away with two of the three questions we had discussed with our crews. Donovan then turned to Meirowitz to explain his letter and his alleged authority to go against the explicit terms of the JBLC Seniority Rules and bypass the JBLC General Membership.

Meirowitz told us that NYSUT legal had told him that our In-House rule violates a concept called “universal union understandings of straight seniority”; and, that he, Meirowitz, as President of the parent union, the NYSLC, had the power to order the rule removed – despite what our seniority rules say.

I immediately raised a point of order and objected to the entire process on the grounds that this was the second time, in as many meetings, that the Executive Board sought to make a major change to the Seniority Rules without announcing that intention prior to the meeting, thereby depriving the Beach Reps the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the issues as well as any intelligent discussion on the matter. They tried this last month when they attempted to bring the Seniority Rules into the By-Laws – see parts 1 and 2 of this essay on the Forum.

I then pressed Meirowitz to cite some authority for the concept of “universal union understandings”. I asked if this was something that was codified by statute, or whether it was a concept that evolved in the courts through caselaw. I pointedly said, that this sounded like “mumbo jumbo, and a grey area that could be used to justify any change to the framework of the way the JBLC functions when he thinks something is unfair”. The best he could say was that other unions function under this “doctrine” and that it is a recognized legal theory according to the NYSUT lawyers.

When I persisted with my challenge to this authority I was censored. President Donovan cut me off and announced that “it was done” and that the In-house rule was out, and “we’re not going to listen to Tony Battisti all night”. The rest of the Executive Board stood mute. With the exception of two later instances when I interjected myself into the discussion, the Executive Board refused to recognize me and deprived the entire EBHO crew of a voice at the BRA meeting through their elected representative.

Dave Spence then asked Meirowitz what would happen if the BRA did not vote to affirm his recommendation? Meirowitz announced that “he, as President of the NYSLC can just get rid of the In-House rule and would do it with or without a vote by the Beach Reps affirming his recommendation”; that, the NYSUT leadership told him to “put your big-girl pants on and do it”.

Spence then countered by asking Meirowitz why his “recommendation” needed to be affirmed when, according to NYSUT Legal, he could just order it? Donovan answered for Meirowitz and said “because he doesn’t want to stand alone”. Meirowitz stood silent, as did the Executive Board.

There can only be one reason for this, it is: If Meirowitz’ decision is later criticized by the general membership, he can avoid accepting complete responsibility for this action by deflecting some blame onto the Beach Reps.

The “directed vote” was then taken; and, with the exception of John Benedetto from Fld. 2 and me from EBHO, all of the Beach Reps voted to affirm Meirowitz recommendation to Donovan to abolish the in-house rule. So it’s gone – 14 to 2. John Benedetto and I were the only two opponents.

The NYSUT Lawyers are telling Meirowitz that he has the power to singlehandedly change any JBLC rule he wants if, in his opinion, it violates this amorphous concept of “universal union understandings. If that is true, they at least owe the JBLC, as dues paying members, a detailed answer, citing legal authority for that proposition. As a matter of courtesy, Meirowitz and Donovan should have been prepared to give a detailed explanation of this authority since it was being used to bypass the General Membership and make a drastic change to our rules.

Just think about it. All Meirowitz needs to do is decide some rule we have violates “universal union understandings” and he can order a change.


For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been a lawyer for 22 years. For the first 4 years of my career I was an Assistant District Attorney in Queens have been doing criminal defense work for the last 18 years. I’ve done well over 100 jury trials in State and Federal Court, and have argued cases before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division.

I then ran a Lexis/Nexis search of the term: “universal union understandings”. Lexis/Nexis the premier computer legal research tool in the world – ask any lawyer you know. I searched that term in the following databases: All Federal and State Court cases COMBINED – that means every court in the United States. I also ran the search through multiple Employment/Labor law databases. The phrase “universal union understandings” is not found in a single document in any one of these databases. It does not exist, and it is not used as a controlling term or concept in any legal material I could find.

My conclusion is that this phrase “Universal Union Understandings” (UUU) is nothing more than a canard. And it was upon this seemingly phantom premise that Meirwoitz and Donovan gave themselves the power to order the Beach Reps to by-pass the General Membership and your votes, and abolish the In-House rule by simply saying, that the In-House rule was contrary to the concept of Universal Union Understanding of Straight Seniority.

To his credit, James McFarlane, Hither Hills, questioned Meirowitz as to whether other changes would be made this way; and, he was “assured” that such a thing would never happen. As it turns out – See Below Constitution Changes – was false.

Meirowitz and NYSUT Legal owe the JBLC a detailed explanation of this concept and the legal authority for it. If Meirowitz and Donovan persist in their refusal they will only create the impression that NYSUT is arming Meirowitz with this alleged power simply because he brought 500 dues-paying Jones Beach Lifeguards into that union.

Until that happens it seems like the back room deals I warned about last month are starting. And it proves that Executive Board had something up its sleeve last month when they tried to bring the Seniority Rules into the By-Laws. They were determined to by-pass the General Membership and now they’ve done it.

Meirowitz and Donovan have created the impression that when the April – Seniority into By Laws – move was blocked they conspired with NYSUT leadership to deprive the JBLC of any say on the issue and found another way to carry out their plan. Remember, the Beach Reps and the Executive Board decided in April that the Beach Reps would discuss these issues with their crews and it would be the subject of the May meeting. Well, they came to the May 19th meeting with their plan already done, so unless they can prove otherwise, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they intended to by-pass the general membership for a second time.

It seems the JBLC is are now subject to the edicts of New York State Lifeguard Corps Union President, Bruce Meirowitz, and the apparent “authority” the NYSUT leadership given him – and the JBLC Executive Board is doing nothing about it.

I’ll say it again as I said in Parts 1 and 2 of this essay: I’m not advocating for the in-house rule. If it’s time for that rule to go, then it goes – BY A VOTE - according to the JBLC Seniority Rules. What I’m advocating for is each member’s right to vote on the matters that affect their job and the rules we play by. What I am advocating for is that the JBLC remain a viable organization that represents our local interests.


According to the May 20, 2010 Bucket & Buoy, the JBLC By Laws and Constitution have been changed:

At the 5/19 BRA meeting, the Beach Reps voted 14 to 2 to support the NYSLC recommendation to remove Article XI, Section : Note (In-House Transfer Rule), from our Seniority Rules. This removal will take effect for this season, the result being that anyone considering a change in status must do so at the draft.

Pre and post-season staffing are now both on a strict seniority basis.

Also with NYSUT Legal’s assistance, the NYSLC and JBLC By Laws were brought closer together in both language and intent. The JBLC Constitution was brought in line with that of NYSUT.

According to this, the JBLC Constitution has been amended in violation of the explicit wording Section VII – Amendments, of the JBLC Constitution, with states:


Section 1 - An amendment to the constitution may be proposed when no less than five percent (5%) of the active members petition the Beach Representative Assembly. Completed petition shall be delivered to the Secretary at a Beach Representative Assembly meeting.

BY Laws:

The Beach Representative Assembly may, by a 2/3 vote of the quorum; amend the By-Laws.

The Executive Board and the Beach Representative Assembly shall previously study proposed amendments.

THIS NEVER HAPPENED. There was no petition by 5% of the active members as per the Constitution; and there was no 2/3 vote of the BRA to amend the By Laws; AND, there was no STUDY of the proposed amendments.

Meirowitz, Donovan, the JBLC Executive Board, the NYSLC Executive Board, and NYSUT Legal unilaterally amended the JBLC Constitution and By Laws in complete contravention of our rules – the JBLC has been swept out sea.

What other rules will be changed this way?

Remember, when the in-house rule change came up for the first time in December, it came up with a joint issue, “Bumping”. The displaced guards were trying anything and came up with those two ideas. You have to also remember that Bumping is the same as a complete top-to-bottom re-draft.

Well, if using the in-house rule all these years was patently illegal, then all of the transfers made under that rule must likewise be illegal. How is the executive board going to remedy that? Is the executive board going to use the doctrine of “universal union understanding” to authorize a complete re-draft to remedy allegedly illegal past practice of the in-house rule? You wait and see. I thought Bumping was gone, maybe it’s not.

Every lifeguard needs to get in touch with their Beach Rep and a General Membership meeting needs to be the first order of business this summer.

Tony Battisti – EBHO
Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 9:06 am
nice work there are like a detective...
i was kinda wondering the same regards to pre-season staffing.
when exactly was the vote to change pre-season to straight seniority? ive been out of the loop so a quick heads up will be fine. rooney maybe you know?
Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 12:22 pm
Hey Guys:
about the voting on're right but is the Corps a republic or a democracy...if i am right a republic votes people in to
make those decisions for us even if we don't like it and a democracy everybody votes for every piece of legislature...not trying to stir the pot but just wondering why we have officers (PRES., VP and so on) if we want to vote on everything....maybe we need an amendment that no new rules will be passed without a memebership vote (by mail or during in-season)!!???

Lifeguard for Life

Lifeguard for Life
Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Tue May 25, 2010 10:04 pm
Ryan Clark

As a student and teacher of politics, a Republic is a form of democracy. You are referring to direct democracy when all members go and vote on what they want. Athens was a direct democracy and Rome was a republic. The JBLC is a democratic union with representation from each facility which then form a governing council whose power is limited by the constitution and by-laws as amended by a general membership vote. All democracies have constitutions for situations like this, the constitution sets limits on the power of the representatives to govern in the interests of the facilities that collectively encompass the JBLC. Because the very foundational rules governing our existence have been subverted by an entity that purported to help us, it begs the question if our new association with NYSUT has actually been a step up from NYSCOPBA. At least the prison guards only neglected us and didn't impose unilateral changes they had no legal right to do.

One would think the same exact leadership in the NYSLC as the JBLC would have benefitted the corps because of the incestuous way it was set up. We brought in 500 dues paying lifeguards, and NYSUT got more people they can take money from to support politicians like Patterson who then cut park funding, and we supposedly got a union who was going to provide us with "Due Process". If the NYSLC wanted the by-laws of the JBLC to be more in line with one another, then why was the newer entity telling the established one what to do? This past summer I asked Dennis Kane if he thought having the same executive board with a few token additions from the other regions was going to look like the JBLC was taking over the NYSLC, and his answer was that NYSUT wanted experienced leadership that only JBLC members could offer as we started up a new union. How has that "experienced leadership" served the interests of the corps now? When the executive board uses unconstitutional methods to change a law based on an acronym (UUU) one with legal knowledge has been unable to find substantiation for, then they have lost the moral authority to govern. We have a constitutional method of getting rid of any aspect of our constitution the membership does not like, and that is a general membership vote after no less than 5% of the membership petitions for it to be amended. The heart of DEMOCRACY is the participation of all eligible in legal manners to benefit the masses.

I think Tom Donovan, Bruce, and the rest of the EB owe the Corps the proper procedure to amend our constitution and by-laws. If the in-house transfer rule is shot down by the membership, then that is what the membership wants and feels best represents our collective wisdom. Rule by a few like Tom and Bruce is called an Oligarchy. I wonder if the person who writes Cornacchia and Adler's posts have anything coherent to say about the subversion of the sovereignty of our union.

Ryan Clark
Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 1:56 am
I'm amazed at the persistence of arguments over this... Hey in life sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. When we got the Hilfiger uniforms, it was my year to get all the gear anyway - so I lost on that one. People who got their gear the year before, won. In '95, The year I needed to go part-time at the mall, there were no spots (or so they said), regardless of the rules, I got shipped out.

Here is the answer but I can't figure it out:

A Note on Impossibility Theorems and Seniority Rules

The purpose of a social choice rule is to resolve conflicts among the preferences of a group of individuals. We should therefore require a social choice rules not to remain indecisive between alternatives for which individuals have conflicting preferences. Suppose we also adopt the requirements of a universal domain, strict Pareto optimality and independence of irrelevant alternatives. We then obtain the existence of a dictatorship (for binary choices) already under the weak consistency assumption that the group’s choice function must always generate a preference relation that is acyclical over triples of alternatives. By contrast to other theorems, this results holds without any restrictions on the size of the group and without the axiom of positive responsiveness. Under the same consistency condition, we furthermore obtain an axiomatic characterization of seniority rules, also known as lexical dictatorships.

A second application of the resolution condition concerns a positive characterization of seniority rules under weak consistency assumptions. Seniority rules use an exogenous hierarchy that determines the order in which individuals’ preferences are taken into account in an allocation problem. Under this method, the most senior individual first chooses his preferred subset from the feasible set of social alternatives. If this subset contains only one element, then this element is the socially chosen alternative. If the most senior individual chooses a subset with more than one element, then the second most senior individual can choose his preferred alternatives from this subset. The method continues in the same way for all individuals ranked according to their seniority. Many actual allocation procedures are of this type and draw on an exogenous hierarchy in which seniority may be determined by age, waiting time, professional rank etc. (Elster, 1991). Seniority rules stay true to the individuals’ preferences but, at the same time, do not require any interpersonal comparisons of welfare on the part of the social decision maker. As a particular example, we have elsewhere examined the allocation of cadaveric donor kidneys on the basis of recipients’ waiting time. This allocation method automatically protects disadvantaged patient types who quickly ‘bubble up to the top’ of the waiting list and thus enjoy priority in the allocation process. Allocation by waiting time thus turns out to preserve what seems to be a set of particularly robust fairness judgments, without requiring the determination of less robust interpersonal trade–offs (Hild, 2001). In this example, a suitable choice of the exogenous hierarchy ensures that the most senior individual is also the morally most deserving individual.
Since seniority rules based on some judiciously chosen hierarchy can thus have morally attractive properties, it is regrettable that these rules have indiscriminately been slandered as ‘lexical dictatorships’. Indeed, the most senior individual in a seniority rule fits Arrow’s formal definition of a dictator — a term which clearly carries negative connotations.
Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 8:06 am
Thanks Ryan

Lifeguard for Life
Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Wed May 26, 2010 9:00 am
Ryan Clark

The reason I am angry at the loss of the in house transfer rule is not because I wanted to keep it, my opinion on the rule is irrelevant only because the choice was taken away from me when the general membership was denied a vote. The article you cite not only makes no sense while containing spelling and grammatical errors, it is in no way appropriate to this discussion. We have a constitution in force to make sure Democracy works. I am sorry you lost your spot and didn't get more uniforms than other people when the Tommy gear came out. But the bottom line is this is not about your personal experience or any other displaced guard, this is for the Corps as a whole to answer.

Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Sat May 29, 2010 12:15 am
Ryan, The article is of a highly technical nature and complex theory written by Matthias Hild, California Institute of Technology & Jet Propulsion Laboratory - he was also Senior Research Fellow at Caltech and at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - he now works at the Darden school of business. It was obviously not meant for the average person to understand. It was just something to throw out there because it does have some relevance regarding the social aspects of seniority and conflicts. Which is obviously what has happened here.

Regardless of how you feel about the article and the few spelling errors it may contain....

If you and others want to start the "Homeboy Legal Team" and start a petition, new independent vote, etc, that may be a viable course of action if you feel that strongly about it and have the time.

It just seems there are way more important issues to waste precious time on - instead of dividing the corps.

Just my opinion / suggestion is if you want to get intimately involved with these procedures, what gets vote on and how - and try to right any perceived wrongs, then run for a spot on the board(s).

Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Sat May 29, 2010 8:08 pm
James Rooney

You miss a few days at Free JBLC and you really miss the DEBATE!

I can understand the Democracy- Republic - Constitution : discussion, and I was actually part of the SEARCH for our original Constitution.........they used to run the BRA or UNION with a "secret" constitution that only Roy Lester got to see!

At least those days are past!

We went from Council 82 and the AFL-CIO constitution to the NYSCOPBA constitution and now the NYSUT UUP constitution. I was actually on a committee that studied them and updated our original JBLC constitution.

I was at the recent BRA meeting where Bruce took Full responsibility for the letter removing the NOTE.....AKA the Home Boy Rule. I am also aware of the various votes and discussions concerning the pre and post season staffing by straight seniority versus the Officer seniority.

Don't you guys think seniority should RULE?

Do you really want a system of loopholes where lifeguards can go around seniority and make their own deals? Do we really need to vote as a whole on every little detail?

Isn't their a Judicial System in most governments that can rule on laws that are Un-Constitutional? Where exactly is that in our JBLC system?

We are finally affiliated with a legitimate BonaFide Union.....not the old Mickey-Mouse Roy Lester run farce........We have a true Bucket & Bouy being put out regularly by Dennis Kane who goes to great lengths to have a unbiased newsletter that is not his own personal Editorial.

We have a negotiation team that has spent a solid year trying to secure us a raise and retro package.........(wether we get it or not) least WE ARE ASKING, and if you watched the powerpoint they made a SOLID legitimate presentation.....and WE are patiently waiting for an answer from GOER.

If you want answers ASK! As far as I know these guys are more than happy to discuss the issues........much better than the old Lester, Lieberfarb, Lenti, Norman, Peters, Ditrico UNION of the past!

Let's give these guys a chance.........if you don't like it run in the new elections for either the BRA or JBLC representative Body or the NEW statewide NYSLC union representative Body.

Participate, discuss and educate your brother & sister lifeguards.....learn from our past history.

We fought with Council 82 over representation, We fought with NYSCOPBA and we've battled fiercely amongst ourselves in bitter Beach Politics.

Why not give UUP and NYSUT a chance? How about listening to their guidance and leadership?

Peter Martinaue was at the rehire and he's been going to bat for us.

What are the options?

FIGHT NYSUT and UUP and find another parent UNION? Should we take a vote on that?

Let's get REAL here!
Post Re: ATTENTION LIFEGUARDS - PART 3 Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:48 pm
Frank Salino
I am in awe of Jimmy Rooney's last post. I can't agree more. There will be issues and events that will have to change to fit into our new parent Union. I do not expect that all of these adjustments will be easy or liked by the whole Corps. We are creatures of habit and set in our ways. But we need to give this new set-up a chance to succeed. UUP and NYSUT have been around for a long time and have guided many local unions to strong contracts and fair representation.

I might not like how the "homeboy rule was changed", but I don't believe it was changed without our voices being heard. This Executive board has been very good at asking for the members input, allowing for very spirited discussions, hearing all sides, getting expert opinion, and acting quickly when needed. We could argue amongst ourselves forever and never achieve 100% agreement.

If you feel the executive board is not representing you-get involved. Run for the NYSLC executive board, run for the JBLC executive board run for NYSLC trustee/rep, run for JBLC beach rep position, or join a committee. But, be aware that change might take place.

Frank Salino
Class of '78
Who Watches the Watchmen
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