Archive for category Safety and health related.

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.

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.

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.

 

Winnipeg Transit continues to put drivers at risk

 Winnipeg transit workers continue to question the City’s concern about the safety of bus drivers as the City and workers wait for a report on the current safety protocols on transit buses. Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, which was never consulted for the report, says the agency is putting drivers at even more risk because transit inspectors have been coming on buses to ask operators to point out which passengers didn’t pay fares. The review of transit safety was ordered after bus driver Irving Fraser was stabbed to death by a rider in February. “Transit said they were going to consult with us. We have about three weeks left until the report is to be released and still nothing. We are totally in the dark,” said Local President John Callahan who fears the report will not address many of the issues the union has been raising for months. Read more.

A Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) report on the ATU Local 113 crisis is “riddled with omissions and specious interpretations of the events” surrounding Bob Kinnear and Unifor’s Jerry Dias’ scheme to raid the Toronto Local, writes RankandFile.ca. The report seems uninterested and unwilling to address key issues including who paid for the three full page newspaper ads from Kinnear and when exactly was the first contact between Kinnear and Unifor about raiding the Local. Furthermore, RankandFile.ca writes, “The contempt for ATU in CLC Investigator Barry Thorsteinson’s report oozes in every section, he talks about reprisals against members (there has been zero evidence this has occurred), the uncooperativeness during the investigation and their attacks on the CLC President.” Read more.


Buffalo transit workers rally for fair contract, improved service

It’s been nine years since Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) workers have had a new contract, and members of Local 1342-Buffalo, NY kicked their campaign into high gear with a rally calling on the agency to bargain fairly and improve bus service for riders. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that these hard-working men and women have to go to work every single day for nine years, and not only worry about their job, worry about whether or not the routes that they serve in our community are going to be cut, every single day,” said New York State Senator Tim Kennedy, who joined the workers at the protest. “But they do so and are not getting paid the fair wages that they should be.” Read more.


Lessons from the collapse of Bridj

Bridj, a startup that tried to merge the technology of Uber with buses, has abruptly shut down due to funding issues, revealing important lessons about how successful public transit works. First, public transportation is costly. There is a reason why public transportation systems historically require subsidies – they are expensive to build, operate, and maintain. Fares only will not cover all of the costs. The public sector is able to provide the subsidies that keeps public transportation going, largely through vehicles such as a percentage of state sales taxes. Without its private sector funding, Bridj could no longer support itself. This is not unique – take a look at the Uber. That company lost $2.8 billion on $6.5 billion in revenue last year. Once the private sector decides to stop subsiding Uber, it, too, will face either restructuring and downsizing or the final curtain. Read more.


CEO pay increases to 347 times average workers

The rich keep getting richer and workers keep getting left behind according to a new AFL-CIO report on executive pay. In 2016 CEO pay rose nearly 6 percent to an average of $13.1 million per year in 2016 – 347 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker. This comes as more good-paying American jobs have been outsourced contributing to the growing income inequality. Mondelēz International, which makes Nabisco products, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made more than $16.7 million in 2016 – about $8,000 per hour. This comes as the company closed its Oreo cookie line at a Nabisco factory in Chicago, sending 600 jobs to Mexico, where workers face poor labor and safety standards. Read more.


Calgary transit workers slam city decision to lay off 60

The safety of the Calgary Light Rail system could be at serious risk as Calgary Transit announced layoffs of 60 workers who maintain the system, says ATU Local 583, who represents the workers. Replacing veteran employees with lower-paid contractors to do the job of maintaining, cleaning or doing snow removal on the platforms could be disastrous. “It can be dangerous — really dangerous — if they’re not in communication with drivers and properly trained,” said the Local. “We’ve got people who have been there for 30 years for god’s sakes, because they love their jobs.” Read more.


Not all heroes wear capes

A South Carolina school bus driver is being hailed as a hero for helping 56 students off her bus before it burst into flames. Two students in the back of the bus noticed smoke and told the bus driver, who got the kids off the bus in under a minute and called 911 for help. “We are so proud of our bus driver,” said school district Superintendent Scott Turner. “She did exactly what she was trained to do. She was calm. She kept the students calm. She made sure they were safe. They were her first priority. She’s our hero today.” The ATU applauds this school bus driver for her quick action. Read more.

buy valacyclovir