Big win in first-ever tax for transit in Baton Rouge


Big win in first-ever tax for transit in Baton Rouge







Baton Rouge, LA, transit riders can look forward to better service thanks to Local?1546?and a coalition who, with help from the International, convinced voters to approve the first-ever tax increase to improve the Capital Area Transit System (CATS).?Voters in Baton Rouge and nearby Baker parish approved a $10.6-mill property tax, which will generate an additional $17 million annually, bringing CATS? yearly budget to $30 million.

?This was a comprehensive 6-month boots-on-the-ground campaign,? said Local President Larry Patin. ?We turned the heat up during the last week working with ?Together Baton Rouge? to launch a phone bank and a radio advertising campaign.?

?We had 60 volunteers,? he continued, ?who went from precinct to precinct asking people if they had voted.?This is the first time in Baton Rouge history we?ll have a dedicated source of transit funding.?We won by 4,000 votes.?

International President Larry Hanley congratulated the local on the successful effort, saying, ?This demonstrates just how much can be accomplished when our members work with like-minded local organizations.?

Drivers willing to pay for alternatives to gridlock

The election (above) seems to confirm the results of a?study, released April 21, which found that over half of the?drivers in?Toronto, ON?would pay a road toll, sales tax or parking fee for alternatives to the area?s gridlock; and that 69 per cent would be more supportive if they knew the funds would go directly to expanding rapid transit.


In related developments,?Local?1395?is pushing for a new 3-cent gas tax to fund public transit in?Escambia County,?FL; but RTD in?Denver, CO, decided not to ask voters to approve a sales tax hike this year even though more money is needed to complete the agency?s FasTracks expansion plan.

Locked-out Acadian workers head back to the table


After five months of being locked-out Acadian Coach Lines bus drivers, members of Local?1229-St. John, NB, are headed back to the bargaining table this weekend. The Acadian workers continue to stand strong and united.

While Local 1229 President Glen Carr is optimistic that a deal can be reached to solve this labour dispute, he remains concerned given the track record of Acadian throughout the lock out. ??We are willing to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work until we reach a deal that is good for both parties,? said Carr. ?It?s time for Acadian management to step up to the plate and bargain fairly to finally put an end to this lock out that has a devastating impact on working people and their families throughout New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.? Read more here.

Yuma, AZ transit workers join ATU

In a unanimous vote, 23 Yuma, AZ transit workers voted to join Local?1433-Phoenix, AZ.?First Transit employs the Yuma County Transit System workers. Local 1433 President Bob Bean applauded the workers? vote and looks forward to starting negotiations, ?We are very happy that Local 1433 will be taking a role in bringing workplace justice to these transit professionals.? Our goal will be for a smooth transition, and to get to work right away.? We have already sent out a request to bargain and we hope to get these workers a contract as soon as possible.? Read more here.

Assaults on bus drivers on the rise in



Passengers on Winnipeg?s public transit lines are becoming increasingly hostile, taking their anger out on bus drivers, according to a new report by Local1505?and the Winnipeg (MB) Labour Council.

The report found assaults on bus drivers in the Manitoba capital have almost quadrupled from 2005. In the first three months of this year, assaults are on pace to greatly exceed the 2009 high of 70, with 23 already recorded through March.

The union and council are urging a two-pronged strategy to protect workers that would see, at the federal level, increased penalties for those convicted of assaulting a transit operator, and on a more local level, increased security on the buses and posting photos of the assailants to act as a deterrent and help police identify them.

Local 1505 President Jim Girden says. ?We want to have a safe environment for the operators but we also want it to be safe for the customers because it encourages the customers, our clients, to ride the bus more and they should feel safe.? The ATU and TWU have formed a committee that has been working to deal with the longstanding problem of assaults against transit workers. Read more?here.

Workers Memorial Day is April 28

Every year on April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew efforts for safe workplaces.? The ATU joins in the struggle to create good jobs in this country that are safe and healthy and ensure the freedom of workers to form unions, and to speak out and bargain for respect and a better future.? It’s time for our country to fulfill the promise of safe jobs for all. Find an event in your area and more information?here?at?

Stay Connected and win an iPad2 or ATU Jacket!

Winners of an ATU iPad2 and ATU Jacket have been announced including Jeff Bowman of Local?1235?- Nashville, TN. For your chance to win and more importantly to get the latest ATU news and action alerts sign up enter the contest, simply provide your e-mail, local number and postal code. If you have already submitted your email you?re still signed up for the contest, simply click ?Skip and Continue to Website.?



Why bus drivers are the best on the road?

B.C. Transit driver Eric Abraham steers bus No. 50 along Douglas Street. Why are bus drivers so good? They're better trained, constantly under scrutiny and are held to a higher standard of performance.
B.C. Transit driver Eric Abraham steers bus No. 50 along Douglas Street. Why are bus drivers so good? They’re better trained, constantly under scrutiny and are held to a higher standard of performance.

People often ask me, “Who are the best drivers on the road?”

My answer often offends the person who asked the question.

Bus drivers, in my humble opinion, are the best drivers on the road. They carry the most precious cargo, namely us. School, transit, tour and specialty bus drivers are all noticeably safer and more skilful than your daily driving commuter.

There are a number of reasons why they’re so good at their chosen profession.

They are better trained and tested than most other drivers. Bus drivers are scrutinized by their passengers, other drivers, pedestrians and virtually everyone they come in contact with. They are simply held to a higher standard of performance, and for that reason alone, they usually outperform every other group behind the wheel.

There are exceptions to every rule. On the other hand, poor bus drivers do not last. The obvious validation or criticism of an increasingly aware public is enough of a check against a poor bus driver. How would you like to have your every action behind the wheel witnessed and assessed by your passengers? Enough said.

Dangerous-goods drivers, particularly those transporting fluids, are the next best drivers on the road.

Their skill and safety behind the wheel is amazing. They must co-ordinate the gear shifting of the big rig with the movement of the fluid being transported. Their approach to curves and turns must be manipulated to account for a shifting load. They must be thinking well ahead when they drive.

Stopping quickly is not an option for many tanker truckers. Their every crash, although few in numbers, is the subject of endless reporting, scrutiny, second guessing and speculation by media and public alike, and rightly so.

Logging-truck drivers warrant a special mention. They must drive resource, private and public roads. They deal with shifting loads, variable balance and myriad regulations, both vehicular and administrative.

In tense resource-road conditions and situations, they are required to make split-second decisions to stay with the load or bail out. The potential for logs to come through the cab as a result of an emergency stop is a concern of every resource-road logging-truck driver.

Motorcycle riders are my next-best group of safe and skilful drivers. There is a saying, “There are no old bold riders.” Yes, there are daredevils in this vast group of riders, but they don’t last long. They are either scared straight or suffer injury or worse, in short order, because of the skill it takes to ride one of these machines. They are constantly scanning for the inattentive driver who will simply not see them.

Drivers for telephone companies and some cable companies have always had my respect. For years, they have used safety cones to mark their vehicles when parked on a call-out or regular business.

This single action denotes a commitment to a driving philosophy that has become time-honoured. It forces every driver to do a 360-degree check around the vehicle when exiting and entering. How many of us do the same?

I often see superior driving traits demonstrated by seemingly “average” drivers. Good drivers leave more space around their vehicles, whether moving or parked. They drive with their lights on 24/7. They have a slight right offset in their lane position. They choose lanes according to space, not speed. They seldom have the need to pass or get passed because of their sense of average speed positioning in any driving cluster. Good drivers communicate by using their signals, flashers and headlight high and low beams, and they often employ hand signals for increased emphasis.

Courtesy of:

Times Colonist

Del Louie gets conditional sentence in bus driver assault

?A man who punched a bus driver so hard a bone shattered has avoided going to jail

A man who sucker punched a Coast Mountain bus driver in Burnaby last year, leaving the driver unable to work, has been sentenced to an 18-month conditional sentence, to be served in the community, and two years’ probation.

Taking into account his aboriginal status, a provincial court judge ordered Del Louie to spend his sentence in treatment at the Victory Wellness Center on the downtown Eastside.

Louie pleaded guilty to assaulting Charles Dixon in February 2011. The punch shattered Dixon’s orbital bone and he has just finished a second round of surgery for breathing problems related to the assault.

During the sentencing hearing in November,?Crown prosecutors asked for a sentence of up to one year in jail.

Driver Charles Dixon has been unable to work since he was beaten up by Del Louie last February and is hoping for a jail sentence for the man responsible for the attack. Driver Charles Dixon has been unable to work since he was beaten up by Del Louie last February and is hoping for a jail sentence for the man responsible for the attack.?(CBC)Dixon, who says he’s been assaulted 14 times over his 25-year career, says he simply asked Louie not to enter the bus from the back.

Louie, who was 21 at the time of the attack, apologized at the November hearing. His lawyer said that as an aboriginal citizen, Louie suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and had a troubled upbringing. He asked that he not be sent to jail.

The Canadian Autoworkers Union, which represents bus drivers, says their work is dangerous and assaults on bus drivers are a daily occurrence in Canada. The union said the the court should send a message that assaulting a driver will result in serious consequences.

Courtesy of CBC

House extends funding again, helps move towards long-term bill








Wednesday?s House passage of another 90-day extension of transportation funding sets the stage for a Congressional conference committee to hammer the House and Senate versions of the legislation into a single long-term bill that will pass both houses. ATU is urging the committee to preserve key provisions of the Senate bill that provide transit systems much-needed flexibility to use their federal funds to maintain service and keep fares low.

?With rising gas prices more and more people are getting out of their cars and using public transportation to get around. Yet?transit systems are still cutting service and raising fares,? said International President Larry Hanley. ?It is time for the House and Senate to roll up their sleeves and make the tough decisions that need to be made during the conference by recognizing the Senate bill is the only option to help our country?s transit systems dig out of this economic crisis.???Read more?here.


In Memoriam: Retired GEB Member Gunter Bruckner, Co-Founder of Canadian Council

Gunter Bruckner, retired member of the ATU General Executive Board, co-founder of the Canadian Council, and former Financial Secretary/Business Agent of Local 583-Calglary, AB, has passed away. ATU will post funeral arrangements on? soon as they become available.??Gunter, a German immigrant, started as a cleaner, then became serviceman and trolley repairman in 1957.? He was elected as a Local 583 executive board member and shop steward in 1969.? In 1971, Gunter was elected Recording Secretary of the local. He went on to serve ATU as financial-secretary/business agent of Local 583, co-founder of the Canadian Council, and Canadian representative on the ATU General Executive Board.?Bruckner?s smiling face and good-natured personality has been a fixture at ATU events and Conventions for decades.? He will be missed.? Read More about Gunter Bruckner?here.

Moncton, NB, bus drivers draw a line in the sand?

?Codiac Transpo transit workers, members of ATU Local?1290, have drawn the line in the sand by refusing to accept the City?s latest contract offer by the City-imposed deadline. Local 1290 President George Turple says the City backed out of a deal reached a year ago and the city may lockout Moncton bus drivers in reaction to the union filing an unfair bargaining complaint against the city.

?They feel if they lock us out, everything will get resolved and there’ll be no hearing at the board and this will never come out,” Turple said. ?But it is going to come out.”

Codiac Transpo bus drivers, mechanics and service workers have already voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike. They have been working without a contract since 2010.? Read more?here.


Earth Day 2012: Public Transit – the original green mode of transportation




Kick off Earth Day this Sunday, April 22 by celebrating public transit?s contributions to a healthy environment.?Using public transportation helps to ease congestion on roadways, reduce emissions, and slow down the effects of global warming.?More eco-friendly buses are being produced and used each year, and technology keeps advancing.?Find Earth Day events in your area?here.

Local 134, Vancouver, BC, wins key arbitration on shifts

An arbitration decision regarding length of regular shifts for bus operators went in favor of Local?134, Vancouver, with a maximum of eight hour shifts handed down to Corporation of the District of West Vancouver.?The decision also stated that overtime may only be scheduled in appropriate circumstances.?Local 134 filed a grievance after running sheets posted contained shifts with ties in excess of eight hours and 15 minutes, some shifts lasting over nine hours long.

Recession brings rise in ‘super commuters”

?The uncertain job market of the recession has caused an increase in ?super-commuters,? a term used to describe a person who travels over 90 miles to work.?The unstable U.S. job market has commuters holding onto their steady job and putting their families first.?Unwilling to uproot their lives, super-commuters make the long trek to work to keep their families in one place.?Watch video.


Get the Dispatch & a chance to win an iPad2 or ATU Jacket

Winners of an ATU iPad2 and ATU Jacket have been announced including Diane Nunez of Local?1704?in San Bernardino, CA pictured on the right. For your chance to win and more importantly to get the latest ATU news and action alerts sign up

To enter the contest, simply provide your e-mail, local number and postal code. If you have already submitted your email you?re still signed up for the contest, simply click ?Skip and Continue to Website.?


Bathroom break suspension sparks outrage






Bathroom break suspension sparks outrage, media attention

When a Mississauga bus driver was suspended 5 days for taking too long in the bathroom, Local 1572 filed a grievance. However, President Nick Bye knew this wasn’t just another incident of “the boss being a jerk”, but a prevalent problem for bus drivers across the U.S. and Canada.

The ATU and TWU formed a committee that has been working to deal with this longstanding issue and Bye saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness about this problem. Bye called the International for assistance and working together they developed a message and implemented a proactive media strategy. The result was national TV stories, newspaper headlines, and social media buzz about the incident and the longstanding issue of bathroom breaks for bus operators in both the US and Canada.

?It?s an important health and safety issue that really should be regarded as a human right,? said ATU International President Larry Hanley. Check out these stories on?Canada Morning Show,?CityTV,?the National Post?and?Globe and Mail.


Help ATU members devastated by Texas Tornados

At least three ATU members lost their homes as more than a dozen tornados damaged hundreds of Dallas-area homes and left tens of thousands without power on April 3.?The ATU members live in Lancaster, TX, which was among the hardest hit cities. According to the National Weather Service, winds reached up to 130 miles per hour in Lancaster.?

When a crisis hits, ATU members do what they do every day on the job, in their communities, in their places of worship. They don?t ask questions about when and where and how. They just help out.

To help out our brothers and sisters in Lancaster, TX, please contribute to the ATU Disaster Relief Fund.?Mail a check to:

Amalgamated Transit Union
ATTN: Lawrence J. Hanley
Disaster Relief Fund
5025 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC?20016