Winnipeg Transit suppresses assault reports, Big Time!

Despite the stabbing death of Winnipeg bus operator Jubal Fraser and countless other attacks on bus operators, Winnipeg Transit is downplaying the frequency of assaults. Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, says the agency is even disciplining operators who report attacks. “The first question they get asked is, ‘What did you say, what did you do wrong,'” Local President Aleem Chaudhary said at a demonstration at city hall. “They’re trying to decrease the numbers as to how serious the assaults are and how many assaults take place. They’re trying to minimize.” The Local urged the council’s finance committee to use a projected $8 million transit surplus for driver-safety measures, including the promised installation of shields. “The fact I even had to critically think about whether or not I can report my own assault, based on the treatment I’m going to receive after reporting, is absurd,” said driver Chantale Garand, who has been spit on and groped. She decided to quit over safety and harassment issues.



Baltimore transit needs local oversight,
more funding

Baltimore’s troubled public transportation system – buses, light rail, subway and commuter trains – should be under local control and not the state’s Maryland Transit Administration, says a new report by the Greater Washington Partnership. “Under this structure, Baltimore’s public transportation system has not kept pace with repair and service needs or developed a strategy to enhance existing service,” the report says. “This governance and funding structure must be reformed … to create a truly regional rapid and reliable transit system in the Baltimore metro area.” Currently, three-quarters of people who live in the Baltimore region can get to its roughly 1.4 million jobs within 45 minutes by car, while public transit only offers access to six percent of those jobs. Read more.

Local 113, TTCriders, allies stage Day of Transit Action to “Fund the TTC, not Break It!”

Holding signs reading “Keep Transit Public” and “No 2 Tier Transit”, Local 113-Toronto, ON, TTCriders, and allies gathered at TTC subway stations to protest and collect signatures for a petition opposing the upload of the TTC’s subway to the province. Last week, Transport Minister Jeff Yurek announced a report on the TTC upload will go to the cabinet soon and in early 2019 the province will introduce legislation to take over components of the TTC. “At Doug Ford’s hand, Toronto is set to lose its integrated system and local democratic controls that will result in reduced service and higher fares while paving the way for privatized transit,” said Local 113 and ATU Canada in a joint statement. “It’s not just wrong, it’s a rush job that will leave Torontonians waiting at the curb. The so-called subway upload is nothing more than another attack by Doug Ford on Toronto.” Read more.


Another week and more attacks on bus operators

The hits keep coming, literally. Attacks on bus operators by angry passengers across the US and Canada have unfortunately become part of the job. In Milwaukee, WI, a bus operator was attacked by three young men who are regular riders. The police are still searching for the assailants. Meanwhile, in Brampton, ON, a man boarded a bus and refused to pay. The driver stopped the bus and told the man to either pay or get off the bus. The suspect then punched and kicked the driver. And in Fargo, ND, a woman was caught on a bus camera attacking a bus operator and a passenger. Thanks to ATU’s union-wide campaign to push for better protection for transit workers and riders, some transit agencies, like Edmonton Transit System and the Bay Area’s AC Transit (see story below), are installing bus shields and other measures.


Tensions grow on Martha’s Vineyard

As contract talks between Local 1548-Plymouth, MA, and Martha’s Vineyard Transit (VTA) contractor Transit Connection Inc. (TCI) drag on, workers’ frustrations are growing. ATU members have been fighting for a fair first contract against stiff anti-union opposition from TCI management. For three years, the company refused to meet with the Local to negotiate a contract until a federal court ordered them to do so. Now, TCI is trying to shrink the bargaining unit and crying poverty despite years of stagnant wages for transit workers on an increasingly-expensive island.


Bay Area AC Transit to test bus driver shields

Local 192-Oakland, CA, members have been pushing for better safety for bus operators for some time. Their efforts, combined with a Bay Area NBC investigative story exposing the rise in attacks on bus operators, are finally yielding results. AC Transit is testing bus driver shields and surveillance monitors and working with law enforcement staffing to increase patrols on high-crime routes. The Local welcomes the safety upgrades but wonders why it took so long. “[I’ve seen] people getting slapped, hit, nose broken, all different types of things, and I believe that up until now, management should have been more in touch with us as humans first instead of professional drivers,” said one driver. “You had wives, mothers, grandmothers, whose children didn’t want them to come back to work because they were fearing for their lives.”

ATU 1505 40TH ANNUAL EDITION A TOTAL SUCCESS, 2018 Edition

As every single year The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 held an amazing night at The Victoria Inn Airport Winnipeg and for the amusement of the participants a lot of activities were on, dancing, a very elegant dinner and a great opportunity to celebrate the retirement of several members of this Union.

Music was  open for all the taste of the participants, and to top it up door prizes were awarded along with lots of gifts and an opportunity for all the member to have a great night.

Union President Aleem Chaudhary was presiding this event and had the opportunity of delivering special moments to the retirees.

Also officials and friends were present a this amazing event.

A list of the retirees class 2018

Marsha Arnal Thomas Brian Lauzon Brian Bale Gerald MacFarlane Jatinder Bali Gregorio Markiw Paul Barry Michael Matyszewski Phillip Battaglia Don McKenzie Jerry Beernaerts Larry Mozinski Ivan Callan Ronald Nelson Stefano Casarin Glenn Pierson Ed Chichlowski M.A. Lonson Prettie Lauren Cosford Craig Schleicher Michael Gaminek Mordecai Tate Lloyd Greenaway James Taylor Timothy Greene Joseph Thomas Jeffrey Guest James Thomson Jeffrey Hamilton Richard VanRoose Brian Hastman Timoth Wilks Curtis Houston James Woloski Normand Lacasse Edward Zielinski

TWO MILLION STRANDED AS GOV’T TO ADDRESS GREY HOUND CANADA SHUT DOWN

Millions of Canadians have lost a lifeline thanks to the Government’s failure to address the shutdown of Western Greyhound Canada. “Seniors won’t be able to get to the doctor for critical treatment. Working people can’t get to their jobs. Students won’t be able to get to school across Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” said ATU Canada President John Di Nino. “The Government reneged on their promise to find funding and solutions to deal with this crisis. This is a travesty for rural and First Nation communities, who depend on this service, and we hold the Government responsible.” In August, ATU Canada met with the Transport Minister, the Hon. Marc Garneau, to suggest real solutions. Unfortunately, there has been nothing but silence for millions of commuters left in dark with only the Minister’s 11th hour announcement on a “proposed” path forward.


International Representative Natalie Cruz
appointed to ATU General Executive Board

ATU International President Larry Hanley has appointed and the General Executive Board has approved International Representative Natalie Cruz as International Vice President. Cruz has been a member of Local 1700 since 2003 when she began as a motor coach operator. At the Local, she served as a shop steward and an organizer until January 2012 when she joined the International staff as an organizer. In that capacity, she worked on a wide variety of contract campaigns, trusteeships, and new organizing drives as well as community and political activities. Cruz was appointed an International Representative on July 1, 2018. She lives in Lorain, OH.

NYC school bus Local says bus driver
shortage lead to service issues

The NYC Department of Education claims recent school bus delays were not caused by a shortage of drivers, but Local 1181-New York, NY, strongly disagrees. Local President Michael Cordiello says the driver shortage is especially bad in the city thanks to the Bloomberg administration’s elimination of the Employee Protection Provision in late 2012. The EPP ensures students are transported by well-trained bus drivers and experienced matrons and mechanics. “It used to be a career, and now it has become transient. There’s little benefits and wage progression.”

The Bus is still best, not rideshares

Microtransit is the new buzz word in the transportation world. In reality, it’s not a new idea. Demand-response transit, “dial-a-ride,” or “Uber for public transit,” as many call it today, has been around for many years, writes veteran transit planner Jarrett Walker for The Atlantic. The only new element is smartphones. Walker argues that fixed-route buses are still the most efficient and cost-effective way to get people around. He points out “a city’s bus service is as good as its leaders and voters want it to be. Where voters have funded better bus services and cities have worked to give them priority, as in Seattle, ridership has soared.”



London Mayor to spend £6m on
toilets for bus operators

Cities and transit agencies could learn a lesson from London Mayor Sadiq Khan when it comes to providing adequate bathroom facilities and breaks for transit workers. Restroom access is a serious and dangerous problem in the U.S., Canada, and other countries worldwide. Mayor Khan has committed to spend £6 million to improve access to toilets for bus operators on dozens of routes across London. “It can’t be right that a bus driver can be stuck behind the wheel and not know where they can access a toilet,” Mayor Khan said. “These men and women work hard keeping London moving at all hours, so it’s vital that they are given the dignity of having access to a rest stop when they need it.” ATU couldn’t agree more and hopes other cities will follow his lead.


Pensacola Local provides free rides to the polls

Next Tuesday’s midterm election in the U.S. is one of the most important in history. Millions have already cast ballots in states offering early voting. In Florida, more than 3 million voters have already cast their ballots, and some have voted because Local 1395-Pensacola, FL, has been offering free rides to the polls. “We’re not there to tell people how to vote, but we know having that ability to cast your ballot is a part of the process,” said Local President Michael Lowery. One voter, thankful for the free service, said, “It’s good, they should have it like that more often. It saves car fare; then, I get dropped off at my destination afterwards. Everybody should get out and vote and maybe things would change.”



Metro says fatal bus-pedestrian
crash was preventable

King County Metro Transit has apologized and made a multimillion-dollar payment to the family of man killed last year by a turning bus, admitting the accident was preventable. The driver, who had a three-decade safe driving record, was fired despite a police report finding the victim was “mostly obscured by the black seals between the two leaves of the front passenger door.” Local 587-Seattle, WA, has filed a grievance to get the driver’s job back. “This certainly sheds a light on a big issue in transit today — bad bus designs and no pedestrian warning systems,” said Local President Ken Price. “But will King County do what it takes to save lives?” The ATU has been engaged in a union-wide campaign urging transit agencies to push for buses with better sight lines for drivers and other safety measures.

Survey reveals Connecticut bus operators forced to soil themselves

Denied restroom access by employers, Connecticut bus operators are forced to put their health, livelihoods, and the safety of themselves and their riders in jeopardy. ATU Locals across the state teamed up to survey their members and released the disturbing results today in Hartford, CT. Among the results, on average, 60% reported having no clean, accessible, well-equipped, or secure restrooms at the end of or along their routes. 80% of operators report that there is not enough time for bathroom breaks. 26% of operators report having soiled themselves on duty. 16% report having been warned, disciplined, or retaliated against for requesting to use a bathroom. Each Local in the state is submitting requests to their employers to agree to new contract language that would ensure operators can safely use the restroom.


Edmonton Local secures $20 million
for bus shields & safety plan

In the wake of a rider being attacked and an Edmonton bus driver recently being stabbed 13 times by an angry rider, Local 569-Edmonton, AB, and Edmonton Transit System have secured $20 million from the City Council to strengthen security for drivers and passengers. Among the protections: retractable bus driver shields with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning inside them. Remaining funds will be used to install cameras on all buses and have security personnel at all 26 stations around the clock. “It’s huge for us. Our membership, there’s never been as much anxiety as there is right now. Our members are quite afraid to be working late-night service,” said Local President Mark Tetterington. “Our operators really want those shields. They feel safer with shields.”

Winnipeggers support low-income bus pass

According to a recent poll, an overwhelming majority of Winnipeggers support a low-income bus pass program. “For too long, transit service has deteriorated while fares have risen beyond control, hurting working families, students, and seniors in Winnipeg,” said Aleem Chaudhary, president of Local 1505-Winnipeg, AB. “We want to give a small break to the people who need it most, who are already struggling with a low minimum wage, increasing hydro rates, and rising rents.” Noting that many attacks on bus operators are a result of fare disputes, Chaudhary believes low-income bus passes would help in reducing assaults on Winnipeg Transit operators.

Transit investments help car drivers, too

The mayor of Coronado recently suggested that prioritizing public transit investment over roads is “highway robbery,” but Vianney Ruvalcaba, transportation and planning coordinator at City Heights Community Development Corporation, says this is completely wrong. “Freeway expansions don’t just worsen traffic congestion, they poison our most vulnerable communities. The most disadvantaged communities of San Diego, in terms of socioeconomic status are at the highest risk of exposure to harmful pollutants,” Ruvalcaba writes in an opinion piece. “A large share of transit riders are captive riders because they cannot afford to own and maintain a car. San Diego’s workforce moves on transit.” She argues investment in San Diego’s public transit system would make the system more effective, efficient, and reliable for those who depend on it, but also help get people out of their cars and on to public transit.

Another attack on a bus operator,
this time in Thunder Bay, ON

Another day, another attack on a transit worker. The latest incident happened in Thunder Bay, ON, when an intoxicated man got on a bus and demanded a free ride. The driver refused, and the 56-year-old man struck him with a bottle in a bag. The driver was able to get the man off of the bus for the safety of other passengers. Police arrested the man, who was charged with Assault with a Weapon and Breach of Probation. Unfortunately this is an all too common scene. In response, ATU Locals are engaging in a union-wide campaign to push for better safety for transit workers and riders. There have already been successes, as the story above on Local 569-Edmonton, AB, shows.


‘I didn’t have time to stop’: C-Train driver
recounts horror of hitting pedestrian

The fear of hitting a pedestrian is one that lurks in the minds of all train operators. The worst case came to pass this week in Calgary when two people died after being hit by trains in separate incidents. A retired C-Train driver vividly recalls the experience as a nightmare almost 30 years after her deadly crash. “We hope it never happens. Nobody wants it to happen. And you can’t prepare yourself for it. It’s impossible,” she said. Local 583-Calgary, AB President Rick Ratcliff said C-Train drivers are well-trained, but it’s impossible to bring a 160-tonne, four-car train to an immediate halt. Ratcliff said support mechanisms are in place once a tragedy happens. Crisis management clinicians that specialize in critical incident response are sent out to support the drivers and staff at the stations involved. The Local also recently negotiated an additional $750 per year in counselling benefits with registered psychologists for staff.

ATU Training coming soon to your Mailbox

Keep an eye out for the next In Transit coming to your home soon. This edition features stories on ATU’s innovative and comprehensive training programs for Local officers and members alike to prepare, anticipate and fight for the interests of our members, riders and our communities. Also be sure to read International President Larry Hanley’s column and one from new ATU Canada President John Di Nino. We also cover the winners of the 2018-2019 ATU Tommy Douglas scholarships. You’ll also find stories about ATU Locals engaging and mobilizing in their communities. Check out this video for a preview.


Edmonton Local wins in ruling for drivers’ privacy

In the wake of two bus-related pedestrian fatalities in 2016, the City of Edmonton hired a contractor to develop a program to evaluate new hires’ driving skills and cognitive abilities. Citing privacy concerns Local 569-Edmonton challenged the cognitive testing in a grievance, arguing the city had “no legal or factual basis for imposing cognitive testing on all ETS drivers and no legal or factual basis for imposing subsequent medical assessments” on operators flagged by the test. An arbitrator agreed ruling that the cognitive testing is “unreasonable” and “intrusive” and an invasion of privacy. Now the Local and the city are working to reach a monetary settlement for those affected by the breach of privacy. Read more.

An ATU hero in Topeka, KS

Topeka Metro bus driver Niles Brandstoettner is being hailed as a hero for saving a lost child on his route. The Local 1360-Topeka, KS, member said his instincts took over when he saw the little girl walking in the street barefoot with no one else around. “I knew something was wrong, I pulled the bus over, I got out and went and picked her up,” Brandstoettner said. “I did the same thing anyone would have done, I hope.” The dispatcher who took the call from Brandstoettner, praised him, “Niles is a very compassionate, high energy and he thinks quick on his feet.” We couldn’t agree more. Read more.


Toledo Local: TARTA faces morale issues

Forced overtime and frequent bus breakdowns are devastating TARTA drivers’ and mechanics’ morale, Local 697-Toledo, OH wrote in a letter asking the agency head to attend a meeting of workers to discuss their concerns and possible solutions. “We are worn down and tired. Our families suffer because we are slaves to TARTA,” wrote Local President Carly Allen pointing out drivers put in more than 80 hours a week, have day-off requests denied and are disciplined for showing up a minute late. The Local’s mechanics say bus breakdowns are happening far too often, leaving them “frustrated and worried about what’s out on the road.” TARTA’s General Manager couldn’t attend, but sent his human resources manager instead. Read more.


Another possible blind spot accident

The tragic death of a pedestrian killed by a Harrisburg bus in a crosswalk could be another example of a preventable blind spot accident caused by poor bus design. Roughly one pedestrian per week is killed by a transit bus in the U.S. from accidents like these. Many buses in the U.S. have huge left hand mirrors mounted on critical sightlines and a massive “A” pillar that needlessly block the driver’s vision. More than a dozen pedestrians may be hidden from the driver’s view at any given time. Meanwhile European buses provide drivers with a clear view. ATU has been engaged in a union-wide campaign to call on transit agencies to fix these dangerous blind spots and other bus safety issues. ATU sends condolences to the Harrisburg victim’s family and thoughts to the bus driver involved in this accident. Read more.

Majority Wants Provincial Funding
Restored to Winnipeg Transit

Four out of five Winnipeg voters want the province of Manitoba to resume paying for half of the city’s transit costs that aren’t covered by fares according to a poll commissioned by Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB. The province froze its transit funding for Winnipeg at 2016 levels claiming a budgetary deficit. That left the city responsible for inflationary cost increases. In response the Winnipeg City Council raised transit fares this year. “The province has to step up and be able to restore the funding,” said Local President Aleem Chaudhary. “We also have the carbon tax coming in, and we should be able to put the funding back and … increase it.” Read more.

 

‘He was stabbed 13 times’: Union boss calls for more security after bus driver attacked, Edmonton Alberta

The president of the union representing bus drivers is calling for 24-hour security at transit centres after a bus driver was stabbed 13 times early Wednesday morning, the second attack in about one week.

And Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said “there’s more work to do” on security measures at transit and LRT stations.

The bus driver who was stabbed multiple times early Wednesday at the Mill Woods Transit Centre was released from hospital, the city said Wednesday night.

The 65-year-old driver was at the transit hub on Hewes Way in southeast Edmonton when the attack happened at around 3:40 a.m., police said.

Paramedics treated him at the scene before taking him to hospital suffering serious, but non-life threatening injuries. A 15-year-old boy is in police custody.

In a statement, a city spokesman said they had reached out to the driver to offer ongoing support.

‘Stabbed 13 times’

Mark Tetterington, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 which represents bus drivers, feels transit peace officers need to be present at transit centres overnight.

“I think the only solution is to have that presence at all those transit centres 24 hours … you have to have that presence, we have to make the buses a safe place not only for our operators but also for the public.”

“They want to increase ridership, that’s where you start.”

Tetterington said he had been told by the transit branch manager that the driver was stabbed around a dozen times by a youth who asked him for a ride downtown.

Tetterington said the youth approached the driver and asked if he could get a ride in that direction because the bus was out of service and returning to the garage.

The driver phoned control to let them know the youth was stranded and needed a ride. He was told a peace officer would be sent out to drive the youth downtown.

“He was stabbed 13 times,” he said. “By the grace of God, he’s still alive. I got an update on his condition from the branch manager, and he said that he’s going to be released amazingly in a couple hours. They’re all just stitches. They never hit any vital organs or veins or arteries, which was a miracle.”

Tetterington said the bus driver was able to escape to the terminal long enough to call police.

Tetterington said retractable driver shields are being installed on some buses as a pilot project. However, a shield doesn’t protect drivers while they’re in transit stations, he said.

‘Hits close to home’

Iveson reacted to the stabbing Wednesday saying it “hits close to home” for all Edmontonians, and that the city is taking concerns from the public about safety on the transit system “very, very seriously.”

“I continue to use transit because it’s an important part of my commute and I feel safe generally on the system,” said Iveson. “So that’s been my experience, but I do recognize and understand that some people do not feel safe and that for women, in particular, their transit safety concerns particularly in the evening and quieter times on the system.

“I’ve chatted with a couple of the councillors already, heard from the transit union and there’s clearly more work for us to do.”

Last week, a 19-year-old man was stabbed multiple times in the chest in an unprovoked attack on Sept. 18 at the South Campus LRT station platform.

Iveson said there are a lot of deterrents to crime on the city’s transit system, including security cameras, the presence of other people, operators and transit peace officers.

“With two high-profile incidents close together, questions have been raised about safety on the system,” said Iveson. “And that’s why we’ve added police and additional transit peace officers in recent years in order to try to have more patrols on the system, added more cameras as well. And those cameras at the end of the day will help hold accountable people who behave inappropriately on transit. So I’m hopeful that the cameras will be able to help with the investigation, whatever happened here.”

Bus drivers regularly face violence on the job

According to freedom of information data requested by Postmedia last year, which covered Jan. 1, 2014 to July 6, 2017, there was an average of one attack on a transit operator per week in Edmonton. Across Canada, there are 2,000 bus driver assaults every year according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association, and more that go unreported.

Around one-third of the Edmonton incidents involved a driver who was punched or kicked. Cases where an operator was bitten or spit on made up another 30 per cent. Pushing or shoving incidents were the next largest category, followed by thrown objects — including coffee, liquor, garbage and, in one case, a “small block of cheese” chucked at an operator’s face by a man who was refused a free ride. Four instances were classified as sexual harassment.

Of the 193 attacks since 2014, 33 resulted in an arrest and six led to criminal charges. The No. 8 bus, which runs from Abbotsfield Mall to Mill Woods, was the most dangerous route, with 27 incidents.

ETS driver stabbed by 15-year-old suspected bus thief at Mill Woods Transit Centre

More U.S. Public Sector ATU locals in NON-RIGHT-TO-WORK STATES AT 100% MEMBERSHIP

 

It’s been a few months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s treacherous Janus decision and ATU public sector Locals in non-right-to-work states have been mobilizing to get 100% of their members signed up and recommitted as ATU members. We are happy to report more and more Locals have been successful. To date, Locals 192-Oakland, CA, 265-San Jose, CA, 285-Steubenville, OH, 726-Staten Island, NY, 752-Bloomington, IL, 824-New Brunswick, NJ, 842-Wilmington, DE, 880-Camden, NJ, 883-Everett, WA, 1027-Fresno, CA, 1070-Indianapolis, IN, 1241-Lancaster, PA, 1249-Springfield, IL, 1336-Bridgeport, CT, 1499-Muncie, IN, 1574-San Mateo, CA, and 1704-San Bernardino, CA have 100% of their members committed to ATU! Get involved, and get your Local 100% committed, too.



Despite national trend, public transit
is winning in Connecticut

ATU has been saying for years, invest in public transit and riders will come. Look no further than Connecticut, which has seen a 5.4% increase in bus ridership while many other states have seen ridership plummet over the last few years. Why? The state put more money towards transit – expanding bus service including more routes for college students. Also a new commuter rail line was opened in June and ridership doubled on the line, which was formerly Amtrak-only service. The rail line operates like a bus line and a subway with more stops – and the trains are newer and nicer. Hopefully other states will follow Connecticut’s example and invest in more and better public transit. Read more.


Saint John Local: Facing our transit future

With a provincial election next week, Local 1182-St. John, NB, President Tom McGraw authored an op-ed on the critical role of investing in public transit in Saint John and the importance of the voting for transit-friendly candidates. “New Brunswick needs to help smaller cities like Saint John cope with the inevitable added pressure on its transit budget,” he writes. “Access to affordable transit is proven to reduce poverty…As well, public transit can foster inclusion and promote population growth across the province.” McGraw urges citizens to “ask your regional candidates if they have solid plans to support public transit and get out and vote in the Sept. 24th provincial election. Hop a bus to polling station!” Read column.


Minneapolis Local crashes event
celebrating Janus decision

A Koch brothers backed celebration of Janus vs. AFSCME, featuring the infamous Mark Janus and Rebecca Friedrichs, got a surprise as ATU Local 1005-Minneapolis joined other unions in protesting outside the event. Chanting “Who are we? Union!” and “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” More than 100 union members converged on the Minneapolis Hilton where the event was being held. Local President Ryan Timlin addressed a raucous crowd with spirited remarks about the importance of collective action and how every right that workers enjoy today was fought for by union workers of the past. Read more.

Another day, another attack on a bus driver

Rarely does a week go by that we don’t hear about another attack on a transit worker. The latest comes from Prince William County, VA outside of Washington, DC. The driver noticed a man running alongside his bus. Once the vehicle was stopped, the man started to bang on the door. When the driver refused to open the door, the assailant stood in front of the bus yelling. He then went to the back of the bus, kicked out one of the lower windows on the door and got inside. The man then sprayed the driver with an unknown substance, leaving the driver with minor injuries. ATU Locals have been engaged in a union-wide campaign to demand a redesign of bus driver workstations to protect drivers from assaults, eliminate dangerous blindspots, and other improvements. Read more.

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.

JANUS DECISION ATTACKS WORKERS RIGHTS

“Behind Janus is the coordinated attack on labor rights by the Koch brothers, other billionaires, and the anti-worker groups they back like the National Right to Work Foundation and Americans for Prosperity,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley in reaction to this week’s Supreme Court’s decision on Janus vs. AFCME, Council 31. “They want every minute of American life to be spent toiling under the bosses’ thumb. They don’t believe in democracy or the rights of the individual worker.” Hanley pointed out ATU has been preparing for the Janusdecision over the course of this past year with trainings to rediscover our roots and strengthen ATU locals. “Their power play has awoken a sleeping giant – organized labor. The labor movement has historically been at its strongest when under attack, and this is the greatest assault in a generation,” Hanley continued.



Tips to stay safe in the summer heat

It’s almost July and temperatures are soaring, and many of our members will face dangerously hot and humid conditions on the job over the next few months. In order to ensure your health and safety make sure the check out the ATU bulletin on Heat Stress Safety for tips on how to be prepared to deal with the summer heat. This bulletin can be downloaded here in English, Spanish, and French. Be sure to share these with your brothers and sisters at your Local.

Baltimore Local warned of unsafe Metro tracks for several years before emergency shutdown

Baltimore Sun Maryland Public Information Act request showed that Local 1300-Baltimore, MD, warned the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) of rail safety concerns on Metro SubwayLink more than two years before the agency suddenly shut the entire system down for a month. In June of 2016, MTA and the Local visited a subway station uncovering more safety issues. Less than a month later the MTA announced a partial system shutdown. Days later Local President David McClure wrote to MTA officials that despite the union’s due diligence to inform the agency of safety concerns nothing has been done. “At best, the current approach being pursued is a result of complacency,” he wrote. “At worse [sic], it seems aimed at guiding the system into an unnecessary state of crisis that could be leveraged to justify political objectives like privatization or further divestment from Baltimore City’s transportation system.

Restroom ‘Nightmare’: CT transit drivers
to rally for better access

Connecticut bus operators angry over the lack of bathroom breaks, rallied to demand CT Transit and the state DOT to make more safe, clean restroom facilities available on all routes. The rally comes in the wake of a firestorm over a video of a bus operator reliving himself on the side of a busy road. To avoid having to use the bathroom on the job many bus drivers won’t drink water or eat before or during their work shifts. Others have resorted to wearing diapers so they can avoid having an embarrassing accident while in the driver’s seat. “I can tell you from my own experience many times I had to pull the bus over and pee behind the back tire,” said Local 281-New Haven, CT, President Ralph Buccitti. “It’s a serious problem. We’ve tried to negotiate to get access to bathrooms. We are bargaining for a basic human right: to use the bathroom.” Other CT Locals participating in the rally were 425-Hartford, 443-Stamford, 1209-New London, Local 1336-Bridgeport, 1622-Danbury and 1763-Rocky Hill.

ATU NJ calls on State Assembly to pass Governor’s budget to fund public transit

ATU NJ members are engaged in an aggressive campaign to demand that the New Jersey Democratic led Legislature pass Governor Chris Murphy’s proposed budget which provides critical funding for NJ Transit and increases taxes on the wealthy. The campaign has targeted NY State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who have proposed a budget that does not include Murphy’s proposed increase in the state sales tax to 7 percent or a “millionaires tax” to raise money for transit. During his tenure former Gov. Chris Christie raised fares twice while cutting state transit funding, leaving NJ Transit in shambles. ATU NJ Local members have been out in full force at transit stops, rallies and other public events urging NJ Transit riders and others to call Sweeney and Coughlin to urge them to pass Gov. Murphy’s budget.

Silicon Valley bus drivers forced to
sleep in parking lots

Bus driver Adan Miranda hauls people across Silicon Valley every day. But rather than commute 100 miles home each night to a Sacramento suburb he is sleeping in a San Jose parking lot provided by his employer, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Miranda and most of his fellow bus drivers and mechanics can’t afford to live in the Bay Area. But Miranda and his co-workers may not be able to sleep in the parking lot soon because VTA is planning to sell it off in an attempt to raise revenue. “We feel the program is an unfortunate condition of the times we live in,” said John Courtney, Local 265-San Jose, CA, who represents the VTA workers. ATU demands that VTA workers be paid so they can live in the community they serve.

The Story of “Micro Transit”
is consistent, dismal failure

For years “micro transit” was being touted as the next big thing in urban transportation. “Micro transit” is a mobile app-based service that functions like UberPool or LyftLine but with large vans or minibuses to match passengers making similar trips in a single vehicle. But so far it has flopped and miserably so. Case and point is now-bankrupt Bridj in Kansas City. Six months in to its partnership with Kansas City’s transit agency, the Bridj vans had only provided fewer than 600 rides, far short of the 200 per day that was initially projected. Despite this failure and countless others, at least 24 transit agencies are expected to initiate micro transit contracts this year. ATU encourages these cities to come to their senses and realize funds would be better spent investing in their current public transit systems.