Archive for August, 2012

Save the Date – 9/30 ATU’s first ever ‘Rocking the Transit World’

As the party conventions send the 2012 election season into high gear, the stakes for ATU, the labor movement and working families are higher than ever. What?s at stake? The future of our jobs, our children, mass transit and the middle class.

ATU will kick off the final push of our election campaign on Sunday, September 30 at 7 pm ET, with a special first-ever national webcast, ?Rocking the Transit World.? The event will feature high profile speakers talking about the importance of this election and why transit workers must get involved. Host a house party to watch this can?t miss event.

The webcast will be broadcast from Cleveland and Denver ? two critical cities in important swing states ? where ATU leaders from across the country will receive mobilization training.

Video: Tell us why you are IN!

Watch video here.
What does it mean to be 'IN'?

ATU members across the country are joining ATU?s ?I?m IN!? campaign to mobilize for the 2012 election. Check out this video to see why some of our brothers and sisters have committed to this campaign.

Members across the country have been gearing up by participating in trainings to learn the skills to mobilize member volunteers and build coalitions with riders to elect pro-transit and labor friendly candidates. If you haven?t had the opportunity to attend one of these exciting trainings more are being scheduled.

ATU will be anchoring our political efforts for the 2012 election in Cleveland and Denver ? two critical cities in important swing states. Trainings for ATU leaders will be held in those cities in September. A special online event for all ATU members will occur on Sunday, September 30. Please be sure to check out the ATU website for details and updates.Union Website

If you aren?t don’t wait longer be part of it!

Bus driver a ?hero? as crane brings down live power lines on packed TTC bus

A quick-thinking TTC driver drew praise for keeping 29 passengers safely on her bus Monday after a crane collapsed on Kipling Avenue, trapping the vehicle under a fallen hydro pole and surrounding it with live electrical wires.

Toronto Hydro worked for an hour and a half to secure the scene and make it safe for passengers to exit.

?It?s amazing that no one was injured,? said Councillor Doug Ford, who represents the area. ?The TTC always gets criticized when they do something wrong and this is a lady who kept everyone calm and collected until it was safe to get off the bus.?

The crane, which was working on the expansion of the Kipling Acres Retirement Home, collapsed in the mid-afternoon, sending at least six hydro poles crashing down between Hinton Road and Rex Gate on Kipling Avenue. Police said the cause of the collapse remains unknown, but the Ministry of Labour will be investigating.

Almost 500 residences remained without power as of Monday evening and could remain so until Tuesday morning, according to Tanya Bruckmueller, spokeswoman for Toronto Hydro. ?It?s unfortunate and we are doing our best, but the site is under police and Ministry of Labour control right now and we?ll do our best to get it cleaned up and customers? power restored,? she said. ?Please be patient with us and stay away from any down wires,? she said.

Toronto Hydro had to ensure that power was completely cut from the wires around the bus before the passengers could exit safely.

?We had to isolate the power source, make sure it was turned off and then test it before we could ensure it was safe,? Ms. Bruckmueller said.

The 30-year-old operator of the crane sustained minor injuries that required he go to hospital, but Detective Rich Petrie of Toronto police said he was expected to be released by Monday evening.

?Everyone [on the bus] was examined by paramedics and there were no injuries,? he said. ?Luckily, considering this is a retirement home, usually there is a lot of people and pedestrian traffic, but when I got here the only vehicle in traffic was the bus.?

As of now, it is unclear who will pay for the damages from the accident. Buttcon Ltd. manages the construction of the expansion of the retirement home into a three-storey, 192-resident long-term-care home. The city of Toronto owns and operates the home.

?We will have to figure out what the cause was. The crane is rented by a company who is under contract by the general contractor ? who is responsible we will have to find out,? Det. Petrie said. ?There?s probably ?going to be lawsuits.?

Courtesy of The National Post

Bus drivers’ union reaches new agreement with Winnipeg School Division

Workers with UFCW Local 832 ratified a new collective agreement by 66 per cent.
The deal averts the possibility of a strike by school bus drivers in the Winnipeg School Division.
The previous contract offer was rejected on Aug. 13, with the two sides then returning to negotiations, leading up to the ratification of the new deal.
?The three-year deal sees improvements in wages for the drivers who have moved from a flat rate to an hourly rate,? said the union in a press release.

School bus drivers fight mandatory retirement age

CALGARY ? Two school bus drivers are battling an Alberta school board that forced them to retire at age 65 despite the fact they say they were still able to perform their job safely.

While the pair say the Edmonton-area school division is prepared to financially compensate them for lost wages, they want a change in policy that might allow other aging drivers in the province to stay behind the wheel.

Doreen Pelley and Marlene Albers filed complaints against the Northern Gateway Regional Division more than two years ago in a case that could see the Alberta Human Rights Commission reverse its stance that mandatory retirement for bus drivers is necessary to protect the public.

?It?s discrimination pure and simple,? Albers said in an interview.

?It may be too late for me, but I would feel good about this case if I were able to help others in the same situation.?

A spokesman for First Student Canada Ltd, which contracts bus service to Northern Gateway, said the board had agreed last month to drop its age restrictions a as part of its settlement of the human rights complaints.

But Rhett Czaban, the board?s director of transportation, the mandatory retirement procedure remains in effect.

?If our policy was to change,? said Czaban,? it would be at the direction of the human rights commission.?

Both Pelley and Albers insist they are still in excellent health and able to handle the mental and physical demands of the job.

Indeed, Albers has completed the annual medical required to retain her commercial driver?s licence and still drives bus for a Sangudo seniors group that frequently takes overnight trips.

?It?s about not putting us all in the same box,? Albers said. ?It?s not like all your mental and physical abilities disappear overnight when you become a senior.?

Both B.C. and New Brunswick have changed their laws in recent years to allow bus drivers to remain working after 65, although some school districts in those provinces have instituted annual testing of older employees to ensure they are still up to the rigours of the job.

But Dr. Bruce Dodds, an expert on aging drivers, says about one quarter of the Alberta?s 62 school boards still have age restrictions, allowed under the terms of a 1999 ruling by this province?s human rights commission.

In that case, a tribunal found statistics show ability at the wheel declines with age and cited research that there was no reliable test to screen out unsafe drivers. To protect vulnerable children, the adjudicator determined it was reasonably necessary to require Stettler?s Gordon Ensign to retire at age 65.

Ensign?s son Jeff says his father continued as a beef farmer for a decade after the decision and at age 84 still has his driver?s licence.

?I wouldn?t say he was fit enough today, but at the time there was no reason he couldn?t have kept driving bus,? Ensign said.

?It was painful for him to be forced to retire because he loved the kids. He fought back because he thought it was wrong.?

Questions about older bus drivers arose again two years ago after an 81-year-old man ferrying students with Edmonton?s separate school board crashed his vehicle into a light standard after missing a turn. The school division now requires all drivers over age 70 to undergo cognitive testing every year.

Amid the debate about mandatory retirement, a survey has found school boards in Alberta are struggling to recruit and retain enough drivers to transport over 300,000 students a day aboard yellow buses. The 2007 study by the province?s school boards? association found over half the drivers were over the age of 50 because of the difficulty in attracting young workers with gross salaries of less than $60 per day.

At least one other board has revisited the issue.

Pembina Hills School Division, north of Edmonton, decided this past June to increase the retirement age to 67 and institute annual medical testing for drivers after age 65. The move will allow several drivers to avoid forced retirement.

The spokesman for First Student Canada Ltd, which is also a contractor for the Calgary Board of Education, said the public school division does not have a mandatory retirement policy. Instead, Timothy Stokes said, his company?s rules require drivers over 65 to undergo an annual medical and a practical test of their driving ability.

The city?s separate board requires drivers who work for its contractors to retire at age 71.

Dodds, a research psychologist at the University of Alberta, is hoping he will soon have a test that will allow the busing industry to screen drivers of any age.

The protocol, which has been administered to 100 bus drivers from around Alberta, requires test subjects to simultaneously watch two videos and react promptly. One displays unsafe road situations like pedestrians unexpectedly walking into the vehicle?s path, while the other shows children on the bus who regularly shout and misbehave.

?We tried to make it as realistic as possible, and from the feedback we?ve got from drivers it seems to simulate the demands of the job,? Dobbs said.

?It?s not an age issue, but rather a question of who?s medically fit enough to drive.?
story.html

Dead Montreal bus driver’s wife, sister also transit drivers


Crash that caused bus to flip over is ‘something that’s beyond belief,’ union rep says
The Montreal transit driver who died in a “beyond belief” crash Tuesday night that ejected him from his seat and saw him crushed under his bus has been identified as a 23-year veteran whose wife and sister are also Montreal bus drivers.

The bus drivers’ union identified the killed driver as 52-year-old Sylvain Farland. He died after the vehicle he was driving collided with a BMW sedan and another car around 6 p.m. ET about two blocks from the Montreal airport.

Farland was thrown from the bus, which tipped over in the crash, pinning him underneath. It took four hours for his body to be extracted from the wreckage. A 61-year-old woman who was in the BMW’s passenger seat also died.

Firefighters remove an injured woman through the shattered front window of the bus. (Radio-Canada)
Union spokesperson Tom Mouhteros said many of the Montreal transit corporation’s 3,300 drivers are in shock.

“In 23 years, 24 years here, I haven’t seen something like this, where a bus driver dies in an accident like this. It’s just something that’s beyond belief right now,” he said Wednesday.

Mouhteros, with Local 1983 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said investigators don’t yet know what caused the collision, or how the bus flipped over.

“It is rare. It can happen, buses could flip over just like any other vehicle. Eighteen-wheelers flip over,” he said. “That’s for the police to find out exactly what happened.”

An official with Montreal’s ambulance service said he’s never seen such an accident in his three decades on the job.

“After 30 years, you see just about everything. But… this kind of impact where the bus is on its side like that, no, I haven’t seen that,” Urgences Sant? operations chief Robert Lamle said.

Farland was driving a bus on Route 196, which runs from the C?te Vertu metro station south to Lachine. The crash happened at 55th Avenue and Lindsay Avenue, an industrial area in the community of Dorval in the western part of Montreal.

Cars and trucks often drive quickly along 55th Avenue, a four-lane road that runs through low-lying warehouses and businesses.
montreal-stm-bus-crash-driver.html

School bus drivers may strike (YWG)

WSD prepares for walkout expected as classes resume

The Winnipeg School Division could be hit by a strike by school bus drivers when classes resume Sept. 5.
The drivers voted 68 per cent against a tentative agreement the union and employer had reached after conciliation.
WSD school bus services are contracted out to First Student Canada, a private U.S.-based firm.
Earlier this summer, the drivers gave the United Food and Commercial Workers a 95 per cent strike vote, which could go into effect when the current deal expires Aug. 27.
UFCW Local 832 president Jeff Traeger said Tuesday the union is ready to go on strike as soon as the deal expires, and members would likely not be driving school buses when classes resume next month if they don’t have a new contract.
“I’d anticipate, at that point, that is the will and desire of the members,” he said.
The division said Tuesday it’s hopeful the UFCW and First Student Canada can reach a deal.
“Parents will be kept up-to-date on the status of transportation services for the 2,200 students who are bused daily and who could be impacted by any disruption in the transportation service, via the divisional website” at www.wsd1.org, WSD communications officer Dale Burgos said.
Burgos said the division is “exploring alternatives to ensure minimal disruption to our transportation services,” but the division wouldn’t provide details yet.
While saying the union wouldn’t bargain through the media, Traeger said the 68 full-time and 14 part-time drivers would take home less money under the company’s offer — First Student Canada wants to pay drivers by the route while the drivers want to be paid by the hour, he said.
Traeger would not say why drivers rejected the tentative deal that the union reached with the employer, but added: “It’s a fairly rare occurrence.”
Traeger said the strike would not only affect kids being bused to and from school — many of them French-immersion students living more than 1.6 kilometres from their school — but would also cancel busing for field trips and extracurricular activities, including high school football.
No city division has had a school bus strike in more than a decade, since UFCW drivers went on strike against the former Transcona-Springfield school division in 2001, Traeger said.
Courtesy of Winnipeg Free Press

Illinois MV operators join the ATU fold

ATU congratulates 55 MV Transportation operators from Melrose Park, IL, who voted to join the Union yesterday. The operators overwhelmingly voted for ATU Local 241 over the Teamsters. ATU and Local 241 brought facts, experience and a track record of success to this organizing victory. Welcome to our newest members!

Acadian quits maritime provinces, Greyhound abandons Alberta towns

Complaining that it could not make a profit serving the widespread communities required by the provinces, Acadian Coach Lines announced Tuesday that it will cease operations November 30. In May, members of Local 1229 working for Acadian Coach Lines in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island ratified a contract ending a lockout that halted bus operations for five months. In the wake of this devastating news, Canadian Council Director Stan Dera annunced ATU supports for a not-for-profit bus line in the Maritimes to replace Acadian. Read full statement here. union-supports-not-for-profit-bus-line-in-new-brunswick-2012-08-10

Local President Glen Carr minced no words, calling the way the company notified employees of the closure ?disgusting. Our employees and membership were told around 4:15 p.m. that there was a conference call, but not all of them were told,? Carr said, adding, ??they left this dysfunctional management team running this company into the ground, and it serves them right.? Read more here.transit-union-president-calls-acadian.html

Meanwhile, transit options continue to shrink in Alberta where Greyhound has announced that it will terminate service to 13 rural towns. That brings the total of Alberta communities the company has abandoned to 25. The service reductions come in the wake of a law passed last year over ATU?s objections that deregulated over-the-road transit in the province. Read more here.story.html

President Hanley proposes ‘maximum wage’

We’ve all heard the calls to raise the minimum wage, but in a Huffington Post column,maximum-wage-law_b_1732819.html?utm_hp_ref=politics International President Hanley suggests adoption of a ?maximum wage? for CEOs who make many times over what their workers earn. Case in point is Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke whose 2011 total compensation was $18.7 million ? 725 times the wages of Wal-Mart?s average worker.

A maximum wage law would limit the amount of compensation an executive could receive to a specified multiple of the wage earned by his or her lowest paid employees. So, if, for example, the law limited CEOs? salaries to 100 times the wages of their lowest paid workers, and their workers earned $25,000 per year ? the CEO, could be compensated no more than $2.5 million per year.

The international president says, ?A maximum wage law would actually ensure that ?a rising tide [would lift] all boats,? and encourage competition while improving lives at every level of society.”

Time for all ATU members to be “IN”!

As part of ATU?s ?I?m In? campaign, members across the country are gearing up for the 2012 elections by participating in political and mobilization trainings. These training are critical to developing ATU activists to mobilize member volunteers and build coalitions with riders to elect pro-transit and labor friendly candidates. If you haven?t had the opportunity to attend one of these exciting training more are being scheduled.

ATU will be anchoring our political efforts for the 2012 election in Cleveland and Denver ? two critical cities in the all-important swing states. Trainings for ATU leaders will be held in Cleveland and Denver in September to develop these election campaigns in these battleground states and across the country.

If you aren’t “IN” already, you should print out the “I’m In” sign from here,ATU_IMINsign.pdf take a picture or video of yourself holding the sign in front of you, and let us know why you are “IN”. Once done, share them on the ATU Facebook page.ATUInternational

If you?ve already decided that you?re ?IN?, then it?s time to show how you can help in this critical campaign for the future of ATU, the labor movement, and all working people. Click here to tell us how you are ?IN?.signup?signup_page_KEY=6601

CTA chief says what?

Sometimes public figures say things that make you wonder if they know what they?re talking about. Then you realize what they?re really up to.

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool said that negotiations with ATU?s two CTA locals had hit a rough patch because, unlike Local 308, Local 241 is represented by International trustees ?from Washington.? Those trustees, IVPs Javier Perez, Jr., and Marcellus Barnes, saw through Claypool?s condescending, ham-handed attempt to sow division between the two locals:

Perez said Claypool is putting his foot in his mouth once again. ?The fact is I?ve spent over 30 years working in transit. I?m actually living in Chicago now, and I?ve never lived in Washington. Marcellus Barnes lives in Chicago and used to work for the CTA,? Perez said.

?Are we tough when it comes to representing our membership? Yes,? Perez asserted. ?We think our members deserve the best that they can get and we can drive a hard deal.?

Join the Workers Stand for America Rally tomorrow in Philly

Tomorrow, August 11, join thousands of working families in Philadelphia in the first major action of the Workers Stand for America in support of American Second Bill of Rights.

Participants will be encouraged to sign the ?bill? and call on lawmakers of both parties to add their signatures of support. It will also be presented to delegates at both political conventions and to candidates this fall.

The event will streamed live at www.workersstandforamerica.com. Photos, updates and video will appear in real-time on Facebook here. You can also follow on Twitter with the hash tag #ws4a.

Click here to find information about the Philadelphia rally ? scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT ? and click here to add your name to America?s Second Bill of Rights.

Flash mob ‘celebrates’ Calgary’s driver’s last run

What can a wife do to commemorate her husband?s 35 years as one of Calgary?s favorite bus drivers? That was the question Maria Woodson answered in high style with the event she staged to celebrate her husband Wade?s retirement.

Remembering a casual remark he once made that it would be neat to have a marching band for his retirement, Maria organized just that to take place with a flash mob of friends, family and co-workers dancing to the song ?Celebrate? at the end of his last run. Local 583 Executive Vice President Doug Johannes says he?s seen a lot of members retire, but ?This one is quite memorable. It really, truly is.? Read more here.story.html

And the winner of an ATU jacket is

Andrew Wirth from Local 381-Butte, MT. Congratulations Andrew.
Stay connected and you too can win an iPad2 or ATU Jacket! More winners will be announced soon. Please pass this message along to your fellow members and tell them to sign up for the latest ATU news and action alerts at atu.org for a chance to win an iPad2 or ATU coat. 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.?www.atu.org

Random acts of kindness

Bus driver makes the day every day
I have a morning bus driver who makes the morning trip to work a pleasure every day and who is kind to everyone.
He always has a cheery “Good morning” for us, a stack of newspapers for the riders and if he’s running low, will stock up with more along the route.
Every passenger gets a resounding, “Have a great day” as they depart. The passengers departing will turn around and wave at him as the bus goes by.
There have been mornings when all the passengers on the bus have had a group discussion about articles in the newspapers — all because our bus driver has helped a group of strangers feel comfortable together.
I’ve also seen him stop and wait for people who aren’t quite at the bus stop yet so they don’t have to run to make the bus. He will even look down the street to see if an absentee regular is on the way.
I don’t think there are too many people who look forward to the morning ride to work, but our No. 10 Wolseley driver (leaves Dubuc and DesMeurons at 6:56 a.m., Stop 50230) has made it that way for many passengers.
I would just like to thank him for making my work day start off great every day.

Thank you very much Mister Bus Driver
Courtesy of Winnipeg Free Press

John Vagi the Instructor!

After 30 years + of service, one of the greatest legacy at Winnipeg Transit has finally retired and along with his experience and a marvelous example of professionalism has left an empty spot not to easy to replace, John Vagi has always shown a high level of respect and his karisma has demonstrated a positive approach to everybody, we wish him the best on his new endeavour and hoping that he will not forget us.

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