An Edmonton bus driver’s nerves of steel and years of police service are credited with saving lives during a police shooting of a gunman. Local 569-Edmonton, AB, member Ernie Russell, a retired police sergeant, was on his route when he saw a gunman man dressed in black. The man pointed his rifle at Russell who remained still and quiet. Then the police arrived and Russell yelled at the man to drop his gun, who turned his weapon toward police. Russell quickly slipped from his seat, ushered all the passengers to the back of the bus and told them to get down. “A lot of people would have panicked,” said Local President Mark Tetterington. “He saw the danger, had everyone hit the deck. … He did everything absolutely perfect.” ATU praises Russell for his heroism and quick action in this very dangerous situation. Read more.

ATU calls on Congress to reject American Health Care Act

“This immoral legislation – a tax bill benefitting the very wealthy masquerading as a health care measure – is perhaps the most disgraceful proposal put forth by Congress since it was founded in 1789. The bill is the equivalent of a death sentence for thousands of Americans who will be thrown off of health insurance,” writes International President Larry Hanley in a letter calling on members of the House of Representatives to reject the Trump-backed American Health Care Act. The letter acknowledges the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) is not perfect, but “while changes are certainly needed… any sane person can understand that ripping away a person’s life preserver and tossing them a twig is unconscionable.” Read letter.

Local 113: TTC employees at risk after policy change

In the wake of a Toronto subway worker being attacked by a rider, Local 113-Toronto, ON, says the transit authority is putting the safety of its employees at risk with a recent policy change. Last month TTC implemented a new policy that requires subway guards to work from the sixth car — instead of the fifth, where the enclosed cab is at the window located closest to a majority of stops. The female operator was working as a guard on St. Patrick’s Day when she was approached by a man who cursed the TTC before punching her in the face. “The TTC continually shows by their actions that they don’t take the safety of their employees as a first priority. They are looking for comfort of the public over safety of employees,” says Financial Secretary Kevin Morton. Read more.

Driverless future?

With Uber already testing driverless cars, Ford and BMW developing driverless cars, General Motors investing $500 million for Lyft’s driverless cars, and Tesla, Volvo, Daimler, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Google, and Apple joining the race, there’s little doubt there is a future for driverless cars and trucks. It’ll also likely mean five million taxi drivers, truckers, Uber and Lyft drivers, local delivery drivers, and even many bus drivers may lose their jobs. Our government has seen this coming and they must develop policies to prepare and help the many people who will lose their jobs as a result of this new technology. But given America’s dismal history with this type of change, such smart steps may not be taken, despite years of advance warning. Read more.

Winnipeg Local contemplates private security after violent weekend

The hits keep coming for Winnipeg Transit and they aren’t good. Two more violent attacks on bus operators occurred last weekend less than two months after Local 1505’s Irving Fraser was stabbed to death by a rider. The Local has been calling on the transit agency for more security to protect operators and drivers. In response the city has asked administration to produce a report on transit safety by the end of May. “Our membership is frustrated and they’re scared. I mean, you know, this whole 90-day report, what are our members supposed to do, just hang on and hope for the best?” asks Local President John Callahan. The Local is considering hiring a private security company to patrol buses. Read more.

Gatineau bus operators continue rotating strikes

With Local 591-Hull, OC, locked in a labour dispute with the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO), transit workers walked off the job for another day as part of their rotating strikes to put pressure on the agency. The bus drivers and mechanics have been working without a contract since December 31, 2014. The Local has been pushing for an arbitration as the sides remain far apart especially on wages, vacations and scheduling. ATU stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Local 591.