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.
Ayotte Richard, Bohotchuk William, Bracken Dwayne, Burla Ronald, Callahan John, Cox Donald, Coy Donna, Cunningham Wayne, Currier Nicole, Desorcy Phillipe , Doerksen Carol, Dokken Kevin, Dubois Ronald, Ducharme Bernard, Dunstan Alan, Falk Murray, Gusnoski Richard, Handen Linda, Harris Kathleen, Jimenez Franco Leonel, Labaty Brian, Lambert Richard, Lewis Donna, Lumsden Lyle, Lusk Ian, MacKenzie Richard, Maling Edwin, Martin Roy, McKoluff Sanford, Moate Albert, Muller Bryan, Munro Bryan, Olfert Arthur, Paquete Lorna, Parker Harry, Hugo R Paz, Rawson James, Ready Spencer, Russell Dennis, Schafer Grant, Sclanders Don, Spence Robert, Starr Bradley, Stokell Daniel, Swan Jimmy, Thomas William, Turner Brian, Walker Roy, Yuskin Kelly, Zvonik Vaclav.

JIC locals energized by training

More than 30 Locals from across the U.S. and Canada gathered at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center this week for an innovative Joint Industry Council training. The attendees heard from experts and staff on the new realities of bargaining and campaigning against large, deep-pocketed multinational employers. The training included a comprehensive explanation of the RFP (request for proposal) process, a breakdown of revenue agreements, negotiations, strategies for building strength within our Locals, and planning for organizing campaigns. The Locals also exchanged ideas and experiences in dealing with these companies that will change our strategic approach for bargaining contracts.

Aspen Local calls for better protection of bus operators

Bus operators have begun to refer to the late shift (especially on weekends) at Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) as the “drunk run.” One operator recalls he had a whole bus of riders openly talking about being high on acid. Passengers are also openly drinking – which is allowed on Roaring Fork buses. Local 1774-Aspen, CO, President Ed Cortez says alcohol- and drug-fueled assaults on RFTA operators have increased over the past year, and security measures by the transit agency have not curbed the problem. “Something has to be done,” says Cortez. “It’s a dangerous period to be an operator.”

Why do white working-class people vote against their interests? – They don’t!

In 2011, Ohio voters decisively repealed Senate Bill 5, an attack on collective-bargaining rights spearheaded by Republican Governor John Kasich. Voters rejected it in 82 of the state’s 88 counties with huge numbers of white working-class voters. Three short years later, Kasich swept back to reelection with a 30-point victory. And in 2016, Trump won Ohio and swept the Midwestern states. Progressives can’t understand why white working-class people vote against their interests. It’s because corporate Democrats have never advanced their interests – and at least Republicans offer a basic, if misleading, story about why they are getting “screwed.” It’s up to progressives to seriously organize and build an agenda that addresses the economic issues that have created the despair that led people to vote for Trump.

Kelowna, BC, Local pushes for better protections for operators

To remember a Kelowna commuter killed by a random assailant three years ago, bus operators across Kelowna pulled over earlier this week – the second time they have done so. “Violence in transit happens everywhere, but up until that night Kelowna was immune to it,” said Local 1722-Kelowna, BC, President Scott Lovell. “We are community and family-oriented… but the specialness that we have was forever changed in that night. We became a big city transit system.” But protections – safety barriers – have not made it to Kelowna buses, despite being on buses in bigger cities for years. Lovell said it shouldn’t take the death of a transit worker for BC Transit to take operator safety more seriously, pointing out this year a Winnipeg bus driver was murdered while on duty.

Grand Rapids workers pushing for contract for two years running

It’s been more than two years since members of Local 836-Grand Rapids, MI, members have been working without a contract. Local President RiChard Jackson talks about the trials and tribulations of the contract dispute with the Rapid. The Local has won numerous lawsuits against the transit agency for bad faith bargaining. The membership recently rejected numerous concessionary contract offers by the transit agency. Workers have had their wages frozen and are responsible for health care increases which have taken a serious toll on them and their families. Listen to interview.

Palm Tran members go above & beyond

Two Local 1577-West Palm Beach, FL, members were recognized by Palm Tran with the Golden Palm Award, its highest level of employee recognition. Bus operator Joan Jenkins was honored for handling a critical situation with high-level professionalism when someone brought a gun on board her bus. Jenkins’ calm demeanor and adherence to training, reassured all of her passengers as they were evacuated to safety. “When I saw the guy pull the gun out, I pulled out my phone and called dispatch. I told passengers to get off the bus,” Jenkins said. “I just thank God that no one got hurt.” Maintenance technician Willy Acuna is being honored for his hard work and dedication. He was responsible for significant cost savings when he repaired hybrid buses instead of replacing them, saving $397, 525 for the taxpayers. ATU salutes Jenkins and Acuna.


Stay connected for a chance to win an ATU jacket

The weather is already turning colder and what better way to stay warm than an ATU jacket. All you have to do is go to www.atu.org and sign up to receive ATU action alerts on the latest news and developments on ATU, public transportation, politics and other important issues. To enter the drawing, simply provide your e-mail, Local number and zip/postal code. If you have already submitted your email you’re still signed up for the contest, simply click “Skip and Continue to Website.” Also, please pass this message along to your fellow members and tell them to sign up for a chance to win an ATU jacket.

Bus Operators Praised for helping people flee concert shooting

 

Local 1637-Las Vegas, NV, member Richard Kuna was at the end of his line when he parked his bus near Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino just after 10 p.m. on October 1. That’s when he thought he heard jackhammering and wondered why road work was being done at that time of night. He then drove to the strip unaware a gunman had opened fire on a concert. A crowd of people started pounding on the door of his bus, begging to get in. “They were panicked, crying, screaming and some were bleeding,” Kuna said. “What else could I do?” Roughly 50 people piled into the bus and he took them to safety. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada recognized Kuna and his fellow driver Antonio McLandau for helping concertgoers flee the deadly shooting. ATU praises Kuna and McLandau for their bravery and heroism during the tragic shooting.

In wake of driver shooting, St. Louis Local calls for better protection & driver workstation

In response to last weekend’s shooting of a St. Louis Metro bus driver, Local 788 is demanding major safety changes to protect not only bus drivers, but riders, motorists, and pedestrians, as well. Local President Reginald Howard says drivers are often the targets of verbal and physical abuse. “Operators get insulted, spit on,” he says. Howard also pointed out that there are other safety issues for operators, riders and pedestrians including driver blind spots, and seats that cause back problems. ATU has launched a union-wide campaign calling on transit agencies, elected officials and bus manufacturers to fix driver workstations to prevent accidents and driver injuries. Watch video.


Winnipeg Local warns that re-opening intersection could cause pedestrians harm

Allowing pedestrians into a dangerous intersection in Winnipeg will cause traffic delays and pose a safety hazard to pedestrians says Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB. The millions of dollars proposed for the initiative could be better spent improving transit operations and other infrastructure needs, says Local President Aleem Chaudhary. “We just don’t need it,” says Chaudhary. One of the main reasons [the intersection has been blocked off since 1979] is because it was a pedestrian hazard. It’s going to slow down traffic.”


Connecticut transit workers call for worker, rider advisory positions on SEAT Board

Citing the possibility of fare increases and service cuts, Local 1209-New London, CT, called for the creation of transit worker and rider advisory positions on the Southeast Area Transit District Board. “SEAT employees serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the transit system and bus riders know firsthand the areas where SEAT needs to improve,” Local 1209 President Jaroslaw Pizunski told the board. “SEAT is now facing some very tough decisions. Workers and riders could educate board meetings on real world issues impacting the transit system.”



Allentown, Orlando Locals pitch in for Puerto Rico relief effort

ATU members have a long history of helping those in need. And Locals 956-Allentown, PA, and 1596-Orlando, FL, are stepping up to help the people of Puerto Rico devastated by hurricanes. Members of Local 956 are teaming with their transit agency to volunteer time on their buses collecting new household goods and toys and non-perishable food items for Puerto Rico. Local 956 President Ricky Vega says, “Many of our members have family on the island, as do many LANTA riders.” In Orlando members of Local 1596 are joining forces with church groups to pack relief boxes with food and necessities for the hurricane-ravaged island.


Fighting for a better work stationn

 We’ve come a long way: 125 years ago, this September, ATU was formed. One of our first fights was to get enclosed driver vestibules (workstations) on the streetcars we operated. Mindful of our history, what better way is there to celebrate our anniversary than to fight for a workstation designed for drivers’ protection, rather than minimizing cost? So, at your September local union meeting you will be asked to vote for a resolution to demand a safe, secure and healthy bus workstation. Watch this video to learn more about this campaign.

Hamilton transit workers move ball forward in fight to “Keep Transit Public”

Local 107-Hamilton, ON, scored another victory in their community campaign to demand that Ontario’s transit planning arm, Metrolinx, hire the publicly-owned and operated Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) to operate and maintain the new light rail transit (LRT) system rather than contract it out to a private company. The Hamilton City Council voted, 10 -2, to pass a motion to Keep Transit Public . “Now we have to make sure Premier Kathleen Wynne and Metrolinx got the message,” said Local President Eric Tuck. Read more.

Baltimore transit worker, supporters march against BaltimoreLink changes

Local 1300-Baltimore, MD, members, riders and transit allies gathered at Baltimore’s War Memorial to march to the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) headquarters to protest changes to the city’s bus routes that have harmed riders and drivers. The struggling overhaul of the city’s bus system – BaltimoreLink – has created headaches for riders who must make more transfers and catch buses at different stops. The protestors are calling on Governor Larry Hogan and the MTA to revisit the changes, and add service and lines, “because right now,” says Local President David McClure, “these people are not able to get where they need to be.” Read more.

Portland debuts fair fares

Riding public transit is not cheap – especially for low-income families that rely on it to get to work or school. But now Portland’s transit agencies – Trimet, C-Tran, and streetcars – are showing the way to a fairer fare. The agencies have introduced “fare capping” for low-income persons in which they are not charged for trips they take after they reach a certain monthly fare threshold. Portland is the first major American city to enact a fare capping policy. Trimet made the change in response to grassroots pressure for a fairer system, and international transit agencies in cities such as London and Dublin have shown that fare capping works. Read more.

Another busy week at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center

The Tommy Douglas Conference Center is buzzing again this week with local leaders taking part in an Advanced Arbitration Training. The attendees heard from experts and took part in hands-on exercises to learn new skills and strategies for negotiating strong contracts for their members. These and other innovative ATU training programs are a vital step in preparing our Locals for bargaining contracts, engaging our membership, and galvanizing our riders into a potent political force.

 

How today’s unions help working people

Americans have always joined together – whether in parent/teacher associations or local community organizations – to solve problems and make changes that improve their communities. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) examines how through unions, people are joining together to strive for improvements at the place they spend a large portion of their waking hours: work. The report helps explain how unions fit into the economy today; how they affect workers, communities, occupations and industries, and the country at large; and why collective bargaining is essential for a fair and prosperous economy and a vibrant democracy.

 

Riders, Workers voice concerns on Floundering Baltimorelink

More than 150 angry bus riders, drivers and transit advocates packed the second town hall meeting, organized by Local 1300-Baltimore, to voice their serious concerns with BaltimoreLink, an overhaul of the city’s bus system that has doubled commute times and confused riders. Hospital worker Patricia Whitty’s frustrations echoed many in attendance. “The buses don’t come on time, and it’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to my co-workers,” said Whitty. “I get off at 3:30, I don’t get home until a quarter of six. That is not right.” Gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is considering running for governor, addressed the crowd. Both criticized Gov. Larry Hogan for cancelling the proposed Red Line light rail line and the struggles of the BaltimoreLink. Read more.


STC bus closure forcing riders to hitchhike

Local 1374– Calgary, AB, warned that the Saskatchewan government’s decision to shutter STC intercity bus service would have a devastating impact on those who rely on the service. Three months after the shutdown some have been forced to hitchhike with no other option for transportation. A University of Northern British Columbia professor, who has been researching hitchhiking along B.C.’s Highway of Tears where a number of women have gone missing or been murdered, says the closure of STC definitely puts lives at risk. “There are dangers out there, particularly in northern, rural, remote settings…if you take away bus service and you put people out on the highway hitchhiking, you could see some really devastating impacts.” Read more.


Boston Carmen’s union honors rider hero

At ATU we hear stories all the time about our members going above and beyond to help riders in need or distress. So, it was inspiring to hear about a Boston bus rider intervening when a knife-wielding passenger stabbed an MBTA bus driver. Local 589-Boston, MA member York Makonnen was on her route when she heard someone scream and pulled over. A man approached her and stabbed her in the back and shoulder. Luckily rider Charles Rozopoulos reacted quickly and wrestled the knife away from the assailant and held him until police arrived. “I was bleeding and thought I would die,’ said veteran driver Makonnen. “I was lucky all my passengers love me and many of them, including Charlie, leaped to save me.” The Carmen’s Union honored Rozopoulos with a party and presented him a black union jacket. Read more.


Palm Tran workers concerned for driver safety after incident

In the wake of a dispute that started on a Palm Tran bus that lead to a shooting outside the bus, Local 1577-West Palm Beach, FL, is calling for increased safety for bus drivers including installing barriers between drivers and riders. This latest incident follows one last April when an irate passenger, who refused to pay his bus fare, was caught on camera assaulting a bus driver. The passenger punched the driver and dragged him off of the bus. The driver is still recovering from his injuries and has been unable to return to work. Over the past 20 months passengers have assaulted 15 and threatened 58 Palm Tran bus drivers. Read more.


Local 689 Warns new WMATA Board Members

As Metro’s two newest board members David Horner and Steve McMillin, Local 689-Washington, DC, members had some advice: don’t believe the hype from WMATA’s leadership. “Since Mr. Wiedefeld became the general manager of Metro, we have heard false claim and false claim,” said a railcar maintenance operator at the hearing. Another worker told the two board members, “The workers and riders of Metro deserve better than a board that listens to no one, makes poor decisions without adequate research, and deliberately chooses to take Metro in the wrong direction…we are here today to ask you to do it differently … Be honest with the public and drive Metro forward.” Read more.

‘Batman’ star Adam West dead at 88

LOS ANGELES — Adam West, whose straight-faced portrayal of Batman in a campy 1960s TV series lifted the tight-clad Caped Crusader into the national consciousness, has died at age 88, his publicist Molly Schoneveld said Saturday.

West died Friday night after “a short but brave battle with leukemia,”

West played the superhero straight for kids and funny for adults. He initially chaffed at being typecast after “Batman” went off the air after three seasons, but in later years he admitted he was pleased to have had a role in kicking off a big-budget film franchise by showing the character’s wide appeal.

“We’re so incredibly grateful for all of the wonderful messages and tributes from Adam’s friends, fans, colleagues, and the media since his passing. It’s an amazing experience to grieve with the rest of the world and the good thoughts and outpouring of support have helped to ease the pain. We know he hears you and feels your love too. Thank you so much.” – The West Family

 

Bylaw enforcement to be beefed up

The city could soon take on a greater role in enforcing hundreds of bylaw violations, possibly speeding up appeals.

A report headed to council’s executive policy committee meeting next Wednesday proposes to allow about 600 more bylaw offences to be enforced under the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Act (MBEA).

The city says the change should streamline ticketing for citizens and the city.

“There are a few things that make it simpler for people to to deal with … rather than any big court process,” said Michael Jack, the city’s Chief Corporate Services Officer. “Court time and court resources were (previously) scarce and we were still under a process where all of our bylaw offences would go through provincial court.”

Instead of fine disputes heading to court, a screening officer appointed by the city would hear them instead, if EPC and council approve the plan. Appeals of screening officer decisions could then be heard a provincial adjudicator. The report notes the city has dealt with parking offences this way since August 2016.

The report proposes to use the method to deal with many neighbourhood liveability, public transit, responsible pet ownership, vacant buildings and water bylaw violations.

“It simplifies how we can do it. We now have the ability to simply mail out the offence notices. It’s easier administratively to issue the ticket, so the hope is they we can be more efficient with bylaw enforcement,” said Jack.

The city’s public service proposes to report back to council within one year with an implementation plan for municipal enforcement, including how to collect fines long-term. Until that point, the Winnipeg Parking Authority would administer screening and adjudication.

The city doesn’t expect the switch to cost more.

courtesy of Winnipeg Sun

‘Long overdue’: Wheels in motion for Winnipeg’s first transit committee

Now that he’s helping lay the foundations for the city’s first transit advisory committee (TAC), the president of Winnipeg’s transit union is “optimistic.”

It may have taken the city a while to take its first steps towards improving bus safety, but officials are wasting no time taking the next ones with a “long overdue” transit committee.

That’s according to John Callahan, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1505, who has been anxiously awaiting and lobbying for action since February, when a Winnipeg Transit operator was killed on the job.

Operator assaults continued, and Callahan shared concerns with the media that he and ATU members felt there was not enough being done to fix the service’s safety issues.

Then, at the end of May, council’s public works committee approved a variety of safety measures, including the formation of a transit advisory committee (TAC).

Not long after, committee chairperson Coun. Marty Morantz began working with Callahan to set the wheels in motion on forming that group.

“We’ve just been spit-balling, but obviously want to get it together and come up with the term’s of reference for who will be on the committee, what the mandate will be,” Callahan said.

So far, he’s expecting the committee will include representatives from a ridership group, post secondary institutions, people who are disabled, Winnipeg Transit, and the ATU; but he wouldn’t call that list exhaustive and expects to have a clearer picture in the coming days.

Morantz and Callahan are meeting Friday to discuss the details.

“Since we are one of the only major cities that doesn’t have a TAC this is long overdue,” Callahan said, adding being late to the game does have the advantage that there are “many great examples” of transit committees in Canadian cities like Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Guelph, London and Toronto.

“(They’ve shown) a good public transportation system that is safe and reliable is a key in any modern city,” Callahan said. “It’s a staple, so obviously it needs attention it hasn’t been getting here in Winnipeg—I think that shows—but I’m really optimistic about the future of Winnipeg Transit as a result of this ongoing discussion.”

Callahan said the “first task would obviously be the safety issues,” but beyond that the committee will be able to focus on “making the service the best that it can be.”

Morantz said he’s keen to see the TAC organized “as soon as possible.”

“It’s a clear priority to get teh TAC establisehd right away. That’s why we’re meeting and I expect there will be a series of meetings, I want to make sure that we have the right structure in place, so when recommendations come out of the TAC they get proper hearing.

“That is, I think, a key to making sure it has a real role to play in terms of its advisory capacity.”

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