Archive for category Safety and health related.

The Dark Side of The Gig Economy

This past Monday morning, livery driver Doug Schifter tragically killed himself in front of NYC City Hall, posting on Facebook that he did this in hopes of raising awareness of how ride hailing services have devastated taxi workers financially. In his post, Schifter said he had to work more than 100 hours a week just to survive, had lost his health insurance, racked up credit card debt and put the blame on mayors Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for permitting so many cars to flood the streets of NYC. His story is representative of how Uber, Lyft and their competitors have inflicted serious economic hardship on taxis drivers in NYC and other cities leading to driver bankruptcies, foreclosures, eviction notices, homelessness and depression. It’s time we all recognize that Uber, Lyft and their competitors are exploiting and ruining hardworking people’s lives.

Worcester, MA, Local mobilizes riders in fight for transit funding

With the Worcester Regional Transit Authority rumored to be considering slashing service and jobs in the face of a $1 million budget deficit, Local 22-Worcester, MA, members aren’t sitting silent. The Local is mobilizing riders to join in the fight and formed the Funding for Public Transportation Committee. “I think that this is really the first time that I can remember that we have formed a committee to focus on gathering people together to try and get funding, and the reaction has been incredible,” said Local Business Agent Ken Kephart. “Our focus is to try to rally the people to say enough is enough, and call their elected officials and demand that they fully fund the RTAs.” Demonstrations and other actions are being considered to protest the governor’s budget.

Winnipeg Local calls for a review of flawed electronic fare card system

The City of Winnipeg has cut corners in adding its electronic fare card, Peggo, which is run on an outdated system, says Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, in calling for a review and audit of Peggo. “Unfortunately, we warned about this quite some time ago … They purchased a system that was outdated,” said Local President Aleem Chaudhary. “These glitches were and are a daily problem.” The Local says riders adding money on the cards online or by phone can be delayed by 24-48 hours, and many riders board buses with a pre-paid card that doesn’t work.

Black History Month: Harriett Tubman, conductor of Underground Railroad

In recognition of Black History Month, ATU is remembering important people and events in the history of the civil rights movement and public transportation. This week we are remembering Harriett Tubman, who escaped slavery and became a leader in the abolitionist movement during the Civil War. Tubman risked her life to lead hundreds of slaves and their family members from the plantation system to freedom on an elaborate secret network of safe houses that is known as the Underground Railroad. In honor of her accomplishments, the U.S Treasury Department recently announced Tubman will be featured on the $20 bill to replace Andrew Jackson.

Nashville Local & Music City Riders United Demand Transit Equity

In recognition of Rosa Parks’ birthday and her fight for transit equity, Local 1235-Nashville, TN, members joined with Music City Riders United to demand better public transit for all. Their demands – better bus safety, improved training of maintenance workers and other improvements – come as residents will soon cast their vote on a new $9 billion transit plan proposed by Nashville’s Mayor. Local President Patrick Green points out the training deficiencies and the lack of personnel leads to bus delays and break downs, which happen every single day. “It’s not about us, It’s not just about the workforce here at this system. It’s about the entire community,” said Green.

Minneapolis hosted the most public transit-dependent game in Super Bowl history

The Super Bowl was a great game this year with the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots. It also went off without a hitch thanks in part to Local 1005-Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, members playing a key role in safely transporting people to and from the game and events in the week before the game. Experts are saying Minneapolis hosted the most public transit-dependent Super Bowl ever because the stadium is located in downtown Minneapolis. The City’s light rail system took more than 20,000 fans to and from the game and the two of the starting points for light rail served as major security screening checkpoints to help alleviate security-related bottlenecks at the stadium.

Maryland bill would make assaulting a transit operator a felony

Transit worker assault is a growing epidemic across North America. In Maryland, one state legislator is taking action as attacks on DC-area bus operators went up in 2017. Del. Angela M. Angel has proposed a new bill to increase the penalty for attacking a transit operator to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. “House Bill 28 will give the same protections to transit workers that are already extended to law enforcement and emergency responders,” says Local 689-Washington, DC. “We understand that transit worker assaults are not only a danger to the workers, but also to the riding public, who are also placed in harm’s way when these incidents occur.”

Winnipeg Local blames province for proposed transit cuts

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Despite the Manitoba government’s own climate change plan calling investments in public transit crucial to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the Brandon City Council recently voted to cut funding for public transit and the city of Winnipeg may do the same. The city councils call the cutbacks necessary because of a lack of funding from Manitoba Governor Brian Pallister’s administration. And Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, agrees. “If you’re a student, worker or parent in Brandon who relies on transit, the Pallister government’s cuts are going to make life more difficult,” says Local President Aleem Chaudhary, who called on residents to contact local politicians to voice their concerns on the issue.

AC Transit drivers push for more protection after shooting

Dealing with angry, drunk and even violent riders has become part of the job for most bus drivers, including AC Transit operators in the Bay Area in California. However, when someone recently shot out the back window of a bus, Local 192-Oakland, CA, decided “enough is enough.” The Local, representing some 1,600 drivers and mechanics, is demanding better safety standards through grievance and, possibly, arbitration, as past requests to the transit agency have fallen on deaf ears. Local 192 is one of the more than 140 Locals that have passed the resolution to fix the bus driver workstation to prevent driver blind spot accidents, assaults on bus drivers, exhaust fumes in buses, ergonomically poor bus driver seats, and more.

Connecticut Locals join with allies to demand state address transit funding shortfall

Public transportation in Connecticut is facing a serious funding crisis as the state’s Special Transportation Fund (STF) needs to find $1 billion over the next five years or the state will have to cut public transit and road programs, and raise bus and rail fares. ATU’s Connecticut Locals took action to demand that the state address this problem that is critical to the economic future of the state. Locals 281-New Haven, 425-Hartford, 443-Stamford, 1209-New London, 1336-Bridgeport, 1622-Danbury and 1763-Rocky Hill joined with business, community, and transit allies to meet with ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker to express their concerns and offer solutions. “We move Connecticut. The proud members of the ATU, who are the eyes and ears of transit in Connecticut on a daily basis, join with our riders and allies in support of increased funding for public transit,” said Local 1209 President Jaroslaw Pizunski.

Denver Local calls for better protection in wake of gunfire

Recently a gunfight broke out near the state capitol in Denver and Regional Transit District (RTD) bus drivers say this is an ongoing dangerous problem that sometimes happens inside the buses including a violent incident where a passenger was shot on a bus in August. In response, Local 1001-Denver, CO, is demanding better protection for bus drivers. “We need more security, it’s just out of control,” said one RTD driver. “We get cussed out all the time. Some people are always fighting, and some get on the bus drunk. We have no protection.” The Local recently passed the Workstation resolution calling on RTD, bus manufacturers, and elected officials to fix the bus driver workstation to improve the safety and health of drivers, riders, pedestrians.

A Local 113-Toronto, ON, bus driver goes above & beyond

Last month Local 113-Toronto, ON, bus driver Domenic Gouveia was driving his regular route when he noticed an older man sitting in a bus shelter. Gouveia realized something wasn’t quite right as the man had only a light coat on despite the cold day. He asked the man where he needed to go and the man replied, “I don’t know.” Domenic invited the man on his bus to get warm and noticed a bruise on his eye and cut on his finger. He drove the man on his route to see if he recognized anything, but the man didn’t. He was about to call transit control when he texted his wife to see if the news said anyone was missing. She told him yes, an older man with dementia was reported missing, and she sent him a photo of the man. Domenic immediately recognized it was that man and called transit control. He then waited with the man until the police arrived to help. ATU salutes for Dominick for his actions.

Cincinnati Local says agency unloading unused bus parts

Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) bus garage workers thought it was strange that the transit agency was asking them to throw away perfectly good bus parts. It turns out it was more than 4,000 parts worth over $800,000. Local 627-Cincinnati, OH, is asking why SORTA is doing this as Metro is facing a $150 million deficit over the next decade and fare increases and service cuts are likely. I was just amazed that this is going on,” said Local President Troy Miller, pointing out that those parts may one day be needed for a fleet with buses upwards of 12 years old. “If our guys don’t have parts, they can’t fix the buses, and if the buses aren’t going out on the road, bottom line, it affects the customer and the taxpayer.”

Milwaukee bus driver helps woman in labor

Local 998-Milwaukee, WI, bus driver Tayetta Currin got quite the Christmas surprise when she was working on Christmas Eve. On her route, Currin noticed a woman walking on a snowy sidewalk who looked like she needed help. She pulled over and the woman told her she was going into labor. As the mother of two young boys, Currin sprang into action helping the woman onto her bus with the help of two passengers “It was shocking. I had to think quick,” Currin said. “I know how it is with contractions. I just told her to stay in the seat because she was sliding off and told her the paramedics were coming right away.” Eventually they did and took the woman to the hospital. This is not the first time Currin has jumped into action. A year ago, a middle-aged woman was shot during a robbery and flagged down Currin’s bus for help.

Stay Warm on The Job in Freezing Cold!


ATU members rarely get “snow days.” And so, even though dangerous, freezing temperatures are gripping North America, our members are on the job, safely transporting riders in these hazardous weather conditions.

A preview of the US without pensions

Tom Coomer has retired twice. Each time he realized that his Social Security check wouldn’t cut it. So, at 79, Tom is working full-time at Walmart. The way major U.S. companies provide for retiring workers has been shifting for about three decades, with more dropping traditional pensions every year. The first full generation of workers to retire since this turn of events will soon show workers what they can expect as part of a labor force dependent on their own savings for retirement. Years ago, Coomer worked for airplane maker McDonnell Douglas with a company pension, but in 1994 the company closed the plant. While most of his co-workers found new jobs, they could never replace their lost pension benefits, and many are facing financial struggles: one in seven have filed for bankruptcy, faced liens for delinquent bills, or both, according to public records.

With assaults on bus drivers up, Ottawa Local pushes for protective driver shields

With more than 100 assaults on Ottawa bus drivers in 2017, compared to 87 in 2016, Local 279-Ottawa, ON, is renewing its call for bus driver protective shields. “I am at the point where I just feel it’s unacceptable,” says Local President Clint Crabtree. “People need to be going home to their families without being assaulted at work.” The Ottawa Local is one of the more than 130 Locals that have passed the resolution to call on transit agencies and elected officials to fix the bus driver workstation. The Local has joined other Canadian Locals in lobbying parliament to push for safer bus driver workstations.

Let’s propose this as the new US national anthem

In 1979, the Chrysler Corporation was in financial trouble. High gasoline prices, lagging auto sales, and international competition had led the automaker to the brink of bankruptcy. In response, Congress passed The Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979to allow the federal government to guarantee $1.5 billion in loans to Chrysler. It also provided an additional $2 billion in “commitments or concessions,” which could be used by Chrysler for the financing of its operations. Sound familiar? In a 1983 WNYC broadcast, Tom Paxton sang a live version of “I’m Changing My Name to Chrysler,’ a whimsical and biting commentary on the financial troubles of the auto industry and how the government bailed them out. Maybe that should be the new U.S. national anthem with the GOP tax plan rewarding corporate America while working people lose.

Nashville media Is getting played by transit-bashing hired guns

From Albuquerque to Atlanta to Charlotte, the right-wing Cato Institute has a knack for opposing nearly every local debate over transit expansion, arguing against investments in rail and bus service. Now they have their sights set on Nashville, TN, which will vote on a $5.2 billion transit expansion plan in May. And the Nashville media have bought their shtick – hook, line and sinker. However, transit advocates say Mayor Megan Barry’s plan with five light rail lines totaling 26 miles – 25 miles of bus rapid transit, a 1.8-mile transit tunnel to bypass downtown congestion, and system wide bus improvements is solid and plan to fight hard to get it passed.

Win an ATU jacket like Raymond Vandervort, 1145-Binghamton, NY

Want a chance to win a cool ATU jacket like Raymond? It’s easy and will help you stay warm this winter. All you have to do is go to, go to the bottom bar of the homepage and sign up to receive ATU email 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.”

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.

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.
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