Twin Cities Local rallies as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike


Members of Local 1005-Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN flooded at Metropolitan Council transportation committee meeting to voice concerns over an ongoing contract dispute. Assaults on bus operators, arduous schedules and employee benefits were among many concerns. While the Local voted to authorize a strike leading up to the Super Bowl in the city in February, contract talks resumed with the agency issuing a final contract offer. “We care about getting a decent and fair contract, and we’re willing to fight to have a fair contract. It just seems a shame that we are not treated like the backbone to this company,” said a Metro Transit operator who attended the rally.

Local 1493 members ratify contract

Despite Roanoke, VA’s Valley Metro facing serious revenue issues due to the city’s budget woes, members of Local 1493-Raleigh, NC, ratified a strong new contract. The 79 bus drivers, nine mechanics and two bus cleaners, who work for Valley Metro-Greater Roanoke Transit Company, will receive a 2.5 percent wage increase retroactive to July, a 2.5 percent wage increase in 2018, and a 2.75 percent wage raise in 2019 under recently approved contract amendments.

ATU Labor leaders confront sexual harassment

As the Harvey Weinstein and other high profile sexual harassment scandals broke in early October, the AFL-CIO opened its national convention in a very different way reading a passage from the code-of-conduct and telling attendees that there are two people designated to field any complaints about sexual harassment. The AFL-CIO pledged to have “a zero-tolerance policy” recognizing the labor movement was founded on the premise to fight for dignity in the workplace and protect workers against exploitation. But even unions haven’t been immune to sexual harassment scandals. At the convention one union leader said, “The AFL-CIO should lead, not follow, when it comes to workplace safety, which means not just reacting but creating an anti-harassment culture.”

ATU condemns NYC Port Authority bombing, says public transit security critical


“The bombing at the NYC Port Authority is the latest example of a vicious, senseless attack on innocent people that is becoming much too common in our country,” said International President Larry Hanley. “This terrorist attack serves as a reminder of how vulnerable mass transit systems are and the critical importance of security on our transit systems.” Hanley pointed out that transit stations like the NYC Port Authority are big open spaces that are difficult to secure making them prime targets for terrorist attacks. “I urge our transit agencies, operators and passengers to continue to be vigilant and watchful for anything of a suspicious nature on our systems, as we work together to defeat terrorism in the United States, Canada and the world.”

DC Streetcar, Circulator, and Metro riders got a holiday surprise when the Grinch greeted them on their morning commute. The Grinch was calling on the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) to deliver a holiday gift for commuters and workers by municipalizing the DC Streetcar and Circulator and not swap out one Grinch-like private contractor for another. First Transit, the company that currently operates the DC Circulator, will see their contract expire next year. The Grinch action came days after Local 1764-Washington, DC, members and transit advocates testified before the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment and encouraged incoming DDOT Director Marootian to consider bringing transit service in-house.

Chattanooga Transit Workers Rally Against Forced OT and Discrimination

Protesting bus drivers forced to work overtime beyond their physical limits, discrimination by management, and unsafe vehicles on the road, Local 1212-Chattanooga, TN, held a rally outside city hall. “Safety is job number one and overworking bus operators because of a shortage of qualified drivers for countless hours without a break defies common sense,” says Local President Kathryn Smith. “We just want what’s right to be done in the work place, for the safety of the passengers we are hauling. Those people depend on us.” The Local also charges CARTA management with discrimination alleging that it disciplines African-American and female workers differently than other workers.


Milwaukee Local strikes deal to ensures streetcar workers can join ATU

Ensuring Milwaukee streetcar workers can have a voice in the workplace, Local 998-Milwaukee, WI, reached a labor peace agreement with Transdev – the company contracted to run the city’s new streetcar system. The deal ensures that the streetcar workers can join the Local and negotiate a contract without threats, coercion, or intimidation. Local President James Macon says, “Whether on buses or streetcars, transit jobs should be good, union jobs. This agreement means that transit workers in Milwaukee can unite to protect and raise living standards.”

Uber has no place in International Association of Public Transport

Uber has announced that it will join the International Association of Public Transport in an effort to improve its image in the face of numerous scandals. ATU says the ride hailing giant has no place in the group pointing to poor treatment of drivers and the communities in which they operate. “Public transportation should serve the public good,” says International President Larry Hanley, calling on Uber to pay a living wage to its drivers who call cities where Uber operates home, saying. “Until Uber demonstrates that they meet that standard they have no business being a part of the International Association of Public Transport.”

Thunder Bay Local gives back with Santa Bus Food Drive

Local 966-Thunder Bay, ON, is in the holiday spirit, teaming with its transit agency to spread goodwill in their community with their 23nd Annual Santa Bus Food Drive in support of the Thunder Bay Food Bank. “Each year we are blown away by the generosity of all those who help us to stuff the bus,” said Local President Ken Koza. “The donations we receive make a real difference in our community. We hope residents will continue to embrace the Santa Bus Food Drive so that we can make sure nobody goes hungry this holiday season.” Last year the drive collected more than 11,000 pounds of non-perishable food items and almost $2,000 in cash donations.

DC Metro workers protest privatization of Metrobus at bus facility service

As representatives from Keolis, National Express, First Transit and other multinational contractors arrived in Jaguars and Mercedes Benzes to meet with WMATA representatives about “lowering costs” in Metrobus service, they were met by more than 100 rallying DC area Metro workers chanting “Keep Transit Public!” “Who Moves This City?” and “Your Job is Next!” The protestors halted traffic as dozens of Metro Transit and Fairfax County police officers intervened several times to allow contractor vehicles into the meeting. It’s all part of Local 689-Washington, DC’s strategy to “make the privatization process ungovernable.” This move by WMATA means that 5% of Metrobus service will be privatized within a year and represents the first fixed route operation ever privatized in Metro’s 40-year history. Watch video.

Twin Cities bus drivers were attacked more than 70 times this year


With contract negotiations stalled and a transit strike threat leading up to the Super Bowl in February, Local 1005-Minneapolis, MN, is demanding improved safety measures for operators as assaults on them continue. “Operators have to endure a large magnitude of abuse, and I’m throwing verbal abuse into that. It can be any day, any time, day or night,” says Local President Mark Lawson. “Metro Transit might point to statistics saying, ‘Well, there’s less assaults this year or last year.’ The numbers go up and down, but they never go away.” This year there have been 73 assaults, 41 threats, and 34 instances of disorderly conduct on buses reported and many more that go unreported the Local says.

Locals in North America are pushing for more safer conditions for Bus operators

Local 689-Washington, DC, joined with Maryland Congressmen Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin to introduce progressive legislation to improve WMATA service, address bus and rail safety and promote innovative ways to increase ridership. Among the proposals is a year-long pilot program with a $2.50 flat fare on trips starting from three stations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Local President Jackie Jeter said at the announcement that the group is “committed to working towards substantive improvement to Metro so that it is no longer a system that this region tolerates, but is one that is effective, safe, reliable and affordable.”


Assailants in Staten Island attack on bus driver get 42 months in prison

Two men, who dragged an MTA driver from his bus out onto the ground at the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, NY and then beat him five months ago, earned themselves a trip upstate after pleading guilty to a felony charge. The incident began when the bus and a Jeep SUV sideswiped each other. The bus drove off and the SUV followed it. When the bus stopped the suspects pulled the driver from the bus and dragged him to the ground repeatedly kicking and punching him. These attacks are becoming all too common for transit workers (see story below) and ATU is calling on transit agencies across North America to better protect transit workers.


Punched, spit on, hit with objects: Bus drivers regularly face violence on the job

In 2009 a vicious attack on Local 569-Edmonton, AB, bus operator Tom Bregg touched off a debate on how to protect transit workers. It took until 2015 for The House of Commons to finally pass Bregg’s Law that allows for steeper penalties in assaults where the victim is a transit worker. But the bill obviously hasn’t deterred attacks. Since 2014 there was an average of one attack on a transit operator per week in Edmonton, AB, and across Canada, there are 2,000 assaults on bus operators every year and more that go unreported. “It’s alarming,” said Local 569 President Mark Tetterington. “There’s got to be more that we can do to protect those operators.”

ATU to City of Winnipeg: Use smaller buses or Uber-like apps instead of cutting service

Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, is urging the city of Winnipeg to consider using smaller buses, devising flexible routes and moving to service on demand in some areas instead of just cutting back on service along routes with lower ridership. Facing a budget crisis, the city is considering less frequent bus service on up to 23 Winnipeg Transit routes, but many students and people in outlying areas who rely on public transit will be left stranded. “Cutting service on those routes, in the evenings and weekends, you’re going to frustrate people. People are already waiting for service as it is, and if you cut the service, instead of waiting 20 minutes, you’re waiting an hour,” says Local President Aleem Chaudhary. “You’re pissed off, here comes the next bus and who are you going to take it out on? The first person you see. Who is that? The bus driver.”

ATU and allies call on D.C. to end private contracts for public transit

A coalition of ATU Locals and social justice groups are calling on D.C. lawmakers to stop contracting out public transit services, saying the private firms that operate the Circulator bus system and D.C. Streetcar fail to provide reliable service to riders and treat their employees poorly. The group held face-to-face meetings with council members and at least one legislator, Council member Mary Cheh, is taking their argument seriously. The coalition is making its case now to lose the private firms because the current Circulator contract with First Transit expires next June. In addition, RMDT, the French firm that operates the D.C. Streetcar and the subcontractors that hire the streetcar personnel and workers, are still negotiating an initial labor contract nearly two years after the streetcar launched.

Nashville Local calls for better protection after rider dies from shooting

It’s seems like a day doesn’t go by that we don’t hear about an attack on a transit worker or rider. The latest happened in Nashville, TN, where a passenger was tragically shot and killed on a Nashville, TN, bus. This prompted Local 1235-Nashville, TN, to call for transit police and other protections for bus operators and riders. In this deadly incident, the shooter fled the bus and was thankfully captured and charged by police. The bus operator was not hurt and is credited with acting quickly to alert officials.

Happy Thanksgiving from ATU International

ATU International wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. members filled with peace, joy and a great meal. And as you do your last-minute shopping please make sure you have a union-made Thanksgiving. You can this do by checking the list of union-made in America food and other items essential to a traditional Thanksgiving feast that also support our sisters and brothers in the labor movement.


Can talking buses save pedestrians’ lives? No says ATU

Transit agencies in some cities are outfitting their buses with warning systems that use speakers to alert pedestrians when a bus is turning – but it’s just a technological Band-Aid for unsafe bus design. “When we read the story we thought it was an article from the Onion,” says International President Larry Hanley. “It’s basically a speaker broadcasting a loud message to pedestrians saying ‘Run like hell, the bus driver can’t see you!’” More than a dozen pedestrians crossing a street can be obscured by the left-side mirror and the pillar — the vertical frame on either side of the windshield. There are buses manufactured and used in Europe that have no driver blind spots, and ATU is calling on transit agencies to purchase these buses.
 

Locals gear up to fight right-to-work at Everett, WA training

The whole public sector will likely become “right to work” next year, barring another miracle at the U.S. Supreme Court. Once the conservative court rules in Janus v. AFSCME (likely before June), life will change for ATU and all unions in the 23 states that till now have rejected right-to-work laws. Recognizing the threat for several years now, ATU has been conducting training to mobilize and engage leaders and members in this critical battle. Recently more than 90 officers and members from Local 757-Portland, OR; and Washington Locals 587-Seattle, 758-Tacoma, 843-Bellingham, 883-Everett; 1015-Spokane, 1576-Lynnwood, and 1765-Olympia, participated in a right-to-work training in Everett, WA.
 

An ATU hero in Cincinnati, OH

Twenty-six-year veteran Cincinnati Metro Operator Orlando King is being hailed as a hero for saving a lost young child. The Local 627-Cincinnati, OH, member spotted the youngster wandering alone shortly before noon on November 2, brought her on his bus and called for assistance. “I’m just glad I was there,” King said, adding that there were no adults in the vicinity. “As a parent, I couldn’t leave her out there.” King, who was named Cincinnati Metro’s 2015 Operator of the Year, was honored with a CEO S.T.A.R. Award at a Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority board meeting. ATU salutes King for his quick-thinking and action.
 

Guelph transit workers & city ratify new collective agreement

In 2014, the City of Guelph locked out Local 1189-Guelph, ON, members, halting bus service for two weeks, leaving riders stranded, and workers mad. The latest contract negotiations went much more smoothly with the Local and city finalizing a strong contract for workers. “During the negotiation process, we challenged ourselves to think outside the box to get a deal that was fair, and that would show great commitment from both parties,” said Local President Andy Cleary. Under the new four-year contract all full-time and part-time transit workers will receive annual pay increases and other improvements.

Jake Schwab won’t be home with his family for Thanksgiving (PA)

Local 568-Erie, PA, member Jake Schwab died in 2014, when a suspension air bag in a bus he was working on exploded in his face. Schwab, a mechanic, was working with the wrong tools on an unfamiliar bus from another agency. There was no investigation of his death because he was a public employee. There had been no safety training in Jake’s garage for over nine years. A Harrisburg, PA, billboard has been put up as part of an aggressive campaign to push for passage of the Jake Schwab Worker’s Safety bill (H.B.1082) to ensure OSHA-equivalent on-the-job safety rules for public employers. There will be a hearing on the bill in the Pennsylvania legislature on December 5.


Joe, the bus driver, & Jane, the bus rider, ‘take it on the chin’ with Trump tax scheme

“On behalf of Joe, the bus driver, and Jane, the bus rider, we condemn the House of Representatives’ passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R.1) – the most outrageous money grab in the history of our country that will destroy what is left of the American middle class,” says International President Larry Hanley. The bill, Hanley continues, would end the state and local tax deduction, making it impossible for Joe to make ends meet and save for his kids’ college. And Jane, who takes public transit because current law provides her with a tax benefit for taking public transit to work, loses too. H.R. 1 removes the option for employers to deduct the cost of public transit benefits. So Jane’s boss is pulling out of the program and she may have to walk the five miles to her job. “We call on the Senate to be the voice of reason and reject this ill-advised, heartless bill for Joe and Jane – the real people of America,” says Hanley.


Peoria, IL, paratransit workers authorize strike

Frustrated by an unfair contract offer by management, CityLift workers, the paratransit service of Peoria, IL’s CityLink transit system, have authorized a strike by a near unanimous vote. “We hope this gets management to realize that the employees are serious. They are not playing around and they want a good contract for the service that they do,” says Local President Ronald Cox, 416-Peoria, IL, which represents over 60 CityLift drivers, dispatchers, maintenance and utility workers. CityLift drivers are the lowest paid workers in their area with starting pay of $10.50 an hour, while CityLink bus drivers start at about $18 an hour. It is only the third time in 27 years the Local has held such a strike authorization vote.


Make your Thanksgiving union-made

As you and your family get ready to do your final Thanksgiving shopping, make sure you’ll have a union-made Thanksgiving. You can this do by checking the list of Thanksgiving food and holiday items produced by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); Machinists (IAM); United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW); and United Steelworkers (USW).


Metro Transit Workers reject contract, authorize Super Bowl strike

Rejecting the latest contract offer from Metro Transit, the members of Local 1005-Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, authorized a strike for the days leading up to Super Bowl LII, in the Twin Cities next year. Expanding hours for part-time work, and driver safety and security are among the major sticking points in the contract dispute, which has been going on since May. “We are very serious,” says Local President Mark Lawson. “Driving a city bus is one of the hardest jobs in America. We have members who are routinely punched, spit on, or assaulted in other ways.” The Local is also pushing for an improved workstation including bus shields to protect the drivers. Lawson says there is still time to reach a deal before the Super Bowl.


TriMet workers reach tentative agreement

Nearly a year after their contract expired, Local 757-Portland, OR, and TriMet have reached a tentative deal. The new contract includes a 3% raise for all employees, retroactive to December 2016, and 3.25% annual raises over the next two years. It also includes bigger pay increases for service workers who clean and fuel buses. A key sticking point had been the agency’s proposal to use outside contractors to overhaul aging MAX trains. “We finally cleared the dust, and here we are,” says Local President Shirley Block, pointing out they had reached an agreement on the issue and that the agency made several concessions for the Local. The negotiations which had dragged on for over five months were followed by several mediation sessions.

Pedestrian dies after being hit by a bus, Winnipeg Manitoba

It’s being repeatedly, talk about the danger of crossing that block located in the core of Winnipeg Downtown, recently one pedestrian jaywalking  (Which is not illegal in Manitoba) died after being hit by a public Transit bus, the collision occurred around 1430 CT, this past Monday afternoon, the writer, a former operator of Winnipeg Transit had mentioned the risk of that several times to the Local Union 1505 and also to city councils about the dangers and risks about this block located at Graham and Fort Street, the question is politics always work after serious incidents occurred even though they were warned.  Let’s talk about this seriously, the operator of the bus won’t be the same after this traumatic event regardless of who was at fault.  It is very important to see safety in a different prospect not only for the public but also for operators who risk their lives every single day, if politicians thing that this matter doesn’t attract more votes then is time to see if you’re working just the status quo or for your people.

Driver Fatigue Contradiction is exhausting!

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) contradicted its own focus groups of drivers and federal inspectors at their recent hearing on a fatal 2016 California bus crash. The focus groups exposed the lack of sleep of motorcoach drivers due to employer pressure to work. “The NTSB just buried this research and said ‘oh it’s just a medical problem – driver sleep apnea – causing driver fatigue and we need better testing of drivers,’” says International President Larry Hanley. “It’s the highest form of negligence, putting peoples’ lives at risk.” Hanley called for passage of the recently introduced Driver Fatigue Prevention Act. “It’s time for the government to extend the labor protections most other workers get to intercity bus drivers and fairly compensate them for overtime work in this safety-sensitive industry,” said Hanley.


Peterborough Local ratifies strong contract

Averting a possible strike, members of Local 1320-Peterborough, ON, overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new contract. The Local which represents 107 drivers and garage staff, was in a legal strike position and had been negotiating with the city for a new contract since the spring. The city also approved the agreement. The new contract includes pay increases and improvements in health care, work conditions and other benefits.

 

NY voters reject ballot proposal on state constitutional convention

ATU Locals across the state of New York joined organized labor and allies across the state to declare victory as voters on November 7, soundly rejected the anti-worker ballot proposal to hold a constitutional convention to amend the state’s constitution. The Locals waged an aggressive campaign against the proposal which would have put important labor protections, pensions and other rights of New York workers on the chopping block.


38-year old OC Transpo bus operator starts on college basketball team

Local 279-Ottawa, ON, member Dan Stoddard is 38, and a full-time bus operator, but amazingly his college basketball career has just begun. Stoddard’s nearly impossible journey started when he played in his annual high school alumni game. By chance the referee happened to be the coach of a local college team and jokingly told Stoddard, “Hey man, you could play for me.” Stoddard enrolled in the college, got in shape and made the team. His family attends every game wearing “Old Man Dan Fan Club” T-shirts to cheer him on. Stoddard also became an ATU hero last year helping an Ottawa woman flee an assault.


Nashville Local on taskforce to set course for city’s transit plan

A taskforce has been launched to identify strategies and policies for the proposed $5.2 billion transit plan for Nashville, and transit workers’ and riders’ voices will be heard. Local President Patrick Green, 1235-Nashville, TN, will serve as a taskforce member. The transit plan includes the city’s first light rail system and an underground tunnel. The Local is also a member of the People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing and Employment (PATHE), a coalition of transit workers, renters, bus riders, unhoused people, construction workers, and other concerned residents committed to affordable housing, good jobs, and immediate improvements to transit.


As bus ridership sinks, advocates look for ways to lure commuters back

With bus ridership decreasing and travel time increasing across the country, bus-only lanes, all-door boarding, and increased funding for service are among the recommendations in a new report from the Active Transportation Alliance, an advocacy group for transit, walking and biking. The report says buses are appealing because they are less expensive and better for the environment than cars. And improving bus service is cheaper and easier than adding more rail routes. As for all-door boarding, International President Hanley expressed skepticism since it would both create another choke point for getting on the bus and would encourage cheaters. He said the best way to speed up buses is to collect fares outside the bus and create more bus rapid transit routes.

Retirees class 2017, ATU 1505

ATU 1505
CLASS 2017 RETIREES BOYS
It was an spectacular night, lots of friends, amazing food, good music, good dancers and lots of fun. We missed you.
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