Happy Labor Day

This weekend we celebrate Labor/Labour Day in the United States and Canada with family and friends. ATU can be proud as our members are mobilizing from Birmingham, AL, to Saskatoon, SK, to Milwaukee, WI, to Halifax, NS and countless other communities. We have created a video to show our members working to demand more transit funding, to fight privatization efforts, to push for safer bus driver workstations and more. This Labor/Labour Day remember “We are a Proud Union Family”! Watch video.

Harrisburg transit workers rally for more,
better, and safer service

Capital Area Transit (CAT) workers are angry and rallied to demand more, better, and safer bus service for the people of Harrisburg before testifying at a CAT board meeting. Local 1436-Harrisburg, PA, have been working without a contract since their contract expired on June 30. There is a shortage of workers, forcing many to work overtime. The agency even outsourced one lucrative route to Hershey Park. Meanwhile CAT management has been using delay tactics in an attempt to extract concessions from the workers. “Our members love our jobs and want to provide the best possible service for the people of Harrisburg who rely on us,” said Local President Lionel Randolph. “And we want to be treated with the respect and dignity we deserve by our employer.” Read more.

The economy is booming, your salary is not:
Blame the decline of unions

A new study shows just how much organized labor can raise individual worker’s wages–even for nonunionized workers. Over the last 40 years as union membership declined working Americans have barely seen their salaries grow, while the cost of housing and basic needs have risen and CEO salaries skyrocketed. When unions were at their strongest prior to the 1960s, the gap was smaller between worker and executive pay and they secure higher minimum wages and better access to health care. Researchers only speculated that unions created positive spillover effects at nonunionized workplaces. A University of Illinois study of the transportation manufacturing industry shows the impact of a drastic decline in union membership on all workers. “My studies suggest that the wage growth in their career would have been more reliable, and their wages less volatile, had the broader decline of unionization in transportation manufacturing not been so severe,” the report’s author says. “I found that to be true both for folks who are members of labor unions, folks who transition out of union jobs, and folks who were never in unions to begin with.” Read more.

Trouble in paradise: Martha’s Vineyard
drivers fighting for contract, safer service

ATU is making some noise not often heard on the tony island of Martha’s Vineyard this summer. Vineyard Transit Authority workers held a picket demanding a fair contract and safer bus service. Short staffing by VTA subcontractor, Transit Connection (TCI), has resulted in coerced overtime for workers jeopardizing safety of bus service. The workers joined ATU in 2015, but contract talks have stalled as TCI has used the public’s money to engage in dilatory and unnecessary litigation. One driver at the picket said all they want is a better standard of life. “I work three jobs and I’m struggling. People that drive potato trucks make more money than us, driving 50 people with all that responsibility,” he said. Both sides are due to come to the bargaining table in September. Read more.

In victory for unions, judge overturns
key parts of Trump executive orders

In a setback for the White House’s efforts to weaken federal employee unions, a federal judge struck down key provisions of a set of executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire federal employees and weaken their representation. The new rules had restricted the use of “official time” — on-duty time that union officials can spend representing their members in grievances and on other issues as well as limited the issues that could be bargained over in union negotiations. In her decision, the judge wrote: “While . . . the President has the authority to issue executive orders that carry the force of law with respect to federal labor relations, no such orders can operate to eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned.” Read more.

Another attack on a transit worker,
a Winnipeg transit supervisor

It’s déjà vu in Winnipeg, as yet another transit worker was attacked. This time it was a Winnipeg Transit supervisor assaulted on a bus when a dispute over an insufficient fare escalated into an attack. A man and two male youths boarded the bus, but one didn’t have enough money to pay the fare. They became verbally aggressive and the supervisor asked them to leave the bus. Instead of leaving they punched the supervisor, violently dragged him off the bus and kicked and punched him. Police just happen to be nearby and intervened. The assailants were charged with assault. While the supervisor isn’t an ATU member, Local 1505 -Winnipeg, MB, President Aleem Chaudhary says more protection is needed for workers. Read more.