|?Also: Gear up Sunday at 8 pm ET with a live Telephone Town Hall with International President Hanley
ALL HANDS ON DECK!?The critical U.S. election is less than two months away. Every single member is needed, not only to vote, but also to mobilize his or her riders to?vote?onTuesday,?November 6. Check out this?Huffington Post story?on ATU?s campaign to mobilize riders to vote.
ATU will kick off the next step in the campaign with ?Rockin? the Transit World,? a special,?first-ever international webcast?on?Sunday,?September 30?at?7 pm Eastern Time. While this is about the U.S. election, we encourage our Canadian brothers and sisters to watch the event as well, because it will be useful for upcoming Canadian elections and transit campaigns.
To gear up for the webcast, International President Hanley will be holding a?live telephone town hall?forall?ATU members this?Sunday,?September 23?at?8 pm ET?to talk about the September 30 webcast and how you can?host a house party?to watch this can?t miss event. It will feature high profile speakers talking about the importance of the election and how it is crucial for transit workers to get involved.
Joining the telephone town hall is?easy. You should receive a phone call this Sunday evening at 8 pm ET.?Just answer the phone, listen to the recording, stay on the line, and you?re there!?If you?don?t?receive at call at 8 pm ET, you can join us by dialing?(888)-886-6602 Ext.19840#.
Report: Transit ridership up – Congress asleep at the wheel
?What will it take?? That?s the question asked by ATU International President Larry Hanley in response to a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) showing that ridership increased in all forms of transit for the sixth straight quarter, April ? June 2012, on American systems.
?This APTA report and last week?s Natural Resources Defense Council poll ? saying Americans support investment to increase transportation choices ? are just the latest of many reports showing that the vast majority of Americans want more public transportation and are willing to pay for it.
?Transit ridership in the U.S. is the highest it?s been in decades and even more people would use it if they could,? Hanley continued. ?Despite what most people think Americans are not in love with their cars, they are frustrated with the lack of options for adequate, reliable public transportation.?Taxpayers are willing to put their money where their mouth is ? backing increased spending to make better public transportation a reality.??Read more.Members of Local?998?working for the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) are lobbying for the agency to use part of an anticipated $2.9 million surplus to address what they believe is a frequent cause of violent confrontations ? paper transfers.
Milwaukee drivers say transfers lead to fare disputes, assaults
Drivers complain that arguments that arise from attempts to use invalid or expired transfers often lead to assault. The operators add that the transfers are extensively swapped, sold, and stolen at great cost to the MCTS.
Operators like 29-year veteran Vickie Clay has had her transfers stolen and has even had a knife pulled on her during a transfer robbery.
The $2.9 million surplus is partly the result of concessions by the members in which they agreed to pay a larger portion of their health and pension premiums. Some of that money could be tapped to cover the cost of eliminating paper transfers, says Local President Al Simonis.
The agency is working on installing a smart card fare system that could eliminate the paper transfers late in 2013, but drivers say that?s not soon enough.?Read more.
Toronto transit workers to fight TTC privatization plans
Local?113?- Toronto President Bob Kinnear and transit workers are ready to go to war over the TTC?s plans to contract out bus cleaning.
Among many options to protest the move, the Local is considering a work-to-rule campaign if the city councillors on the Toronto Transit Commission approve the outsourcing.
?Work-to-rule is definitely an option. We are contemplating our next course of action if they move forward,? Kinnear said. The union could also refuse to sign a joint letter the TTC submits annually to the Ontario Ministry of Labour. It exempts TTC workers from the standard 48-hour work week and allows them to work up to 64 hours.??Read more.
Service cuts troublesome for Detroit riders
Some are unable to get to work while others are unable to get to school, but no matter what the scenario is it?s becoming apparent that Detroiters are not pleased with the current state of their bus system.
?People are fed up with the deteriorating bus service,? says Dennis Sloan, who had to quit his job because the cuts would have forced him to walk serveral hours to get home after his shift ended at 1 a.m.
More than 1,300 members of the North End Woodward Community Coalition have signed a petition demanding restoration to 37 routes that were affected by the cuts earlier this year.
In April, Mayor Dave Bing?s suggested cutting the Detroit Department of Transportation?s 2012-2013 subsidy to $43 million from $55.6 million. This, in comparison to the $83 million the department received a few years ago, forces cuts in some weekend, evening, and nighttime bus service, affecting some rider?s ability to get to work.?Read more.
Stay connected and win an ATU jacket or iPad2
Don?t miss out! More winners of an ATU iPad2 and ATU Jacket will be announced soon. For your chance to win and more importantly to get the latest ATU news and action alerts sign up at?www.atu.org.?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.?.
Passengers on a Winnipeg Transit bus this morning were shocked when their driver suddenly pulled over on Portage Avenue, hopped off the bus and handed his shoes to a stranger on the street.
“Honestly, I was left speechless,” said passenger Denise Campbell. “He was basically at the corner of Portage and Main when he stopped. I was thinking, ?Oh no, there?s a problem or maybe he?s waiting for someone who?s running to catch the bus.? Then he stepped off.”
“He says, ?Hey buddy.? He?s chatting with the fellow. They?re about the same age. I thought he knew him. All of a sudden, the driver takes his shoes off. He hands them to the man. He gets back on the bus. He has no shoes on. He?s just got his socks on.”
It was about 7:40 a.m. Campbell usually rides either the 24 or 25 from her home in Unicity to her downtown job. She?s seen the driver, a man in his mid-twenties, before. She described him as “very polite.”
Campbell says another passenger approached the driver and asked him why he did it.
“He said, ?I just saw him walking and thought, ?Hey, I could do something?.”
The city wouldn?t provide the driver?s name. Dave Wardrop, the director of Winnipeg Transit issued a written statement.
“We have all been struck by the generosity and kindness of this Winnipeg Transit Bus Operator,” it read. “It serves as a reminder of the compassion and commitment demonstrated by City of Winnipeg employees throughout the community on a daily basis.”
Cheers to the star operator, who demonstrated a stronge sense of compassion and empathy for a human being.
Local 113 members in Toronto, ON, are mourning the loss of their brother, Peter Pavlovski, 49, a 22-year veteran subway track and tunnel foreman, who died this morning after being struck and killed by a work train. Another unnamed TTC employee hit alongside Pavlovski is in the hospital.
?This is a great tragedy for the families of the victims and for the entire TTC family,? said Local President Bob Kinnear. ?We? will not rest until we know everything that is possible to know about how this happened.?
The tragedy is similar to a 2011 accident in which a 28-year Washington, DC Metro worker lost part of a leg after he was struck by a slow moving train in a Maryland maintenance yard. A rescue team managed to lift the entire train car to free the ATU member who had been pinned underneath its wheels for an hour.
Americans support investment to increase transportation choices
Three out of four Americans are frustrated with the lack of transportation options according to a new nationwide public opinion survey released this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Two out of three support government investment to expand and improve public transportation and twice as many people favor new transit ? buses, trains and light rail ? rather than new highways as the best way to solve America?s traffic woes.
“Transit ridership in the U.S. is at an all-time high in decades and even more people would use it if they could. Many believe Americans are in love with their cars, but most are frustrated with the lack of options for adequate, reliable public transit service,” said ATU President Larry Hanley in reaction. “This poll clearly shows that taxpayers are willing to put their money where their mouth is ? backing increased spending to make better public transportation a reality. Legislators should take note that public transit is not only a wise investment in our economy, but also a winning political position for peopleregardless of their party affiliation.?
Orlando transit workers hold protest
Members of Local 1596 working for Lynx in Orlando, FL, took to the streets to air their grievances as contract negotiations broke down with management.
International Vice President Gary Rauen was on hand for the demonstration, and explained the locals position to the press.
?This is not about pulling the buses off the street. This is about the board of directors doing the right thing in Orlando. We understand and recognize the most important thing that we do is provide a service for people who have to go to doctor?s appointments, have to go to school, have to go shopping. The most disadvantaged people in this community would be more affected than anyone else if we interrupted service. That?s not what this is about. We just want a fair deal,? Rauen said.
Striking Chicago teachers reach deal with ATU support
The striking Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public School Board reached a tentative agreement this afternoon and teachers are expected back on the job on Monday. The International and ATU local unions actively supported the teachers in their strike.
In a statement released on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, International President Larry Hanley pledged ATU?s support for the teachers, and called on President Obama ?to stand up for the defense of all Americans, not only at airports and missile bases, but in Chicago classrooms.?
Toronto local to fight privatization with PR campaign
Local President Bob Kinnear, Local 113-Toronto, ON, has written to his members expressing the local?s opposition to the Toronto Transit Commission?s plans to privatize 170 cleaning positions.
Kinnear wrote that union employees should not be replaced by workers who receive low wages and no benefits or pension. TTC says no current union members will lose their jobs.
The local is about to launch a new PR campaign to fight the outsourcing. A campaign video says, in part: ?We get you to school, and to work, get you home, keep you safe? we?re a part of this city; we?re Toronto transit workers.?
Wisconsin Judge strikes down Walker anti-union law
This afternoon Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas struck down the new law backed that stripped the collective bargaining rights from most Wisconsin state workers. The legislation was proposed by anti-union Governor Scott Walker. The judge said that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution. The judgment is expected to be appealed. ATU members in Wisconsin were very active in opposing the law.
Moncton transit workers & Codiac head back to the table
Hope springs eternal whenever negotiators meet during a long strike or lockout. And everyone in Moncton, NB, hopes that the negotiators for Local 1290 and Codiac Transpo, meeting next week, will be able to start hammering out an agreement that will end the lockout that started June 27.
Stay connected and win an ATU jacket or iPad2
Don?t miss out! More winners of an ATU iPad2 and ATU Jacket will be announced soon. For your chance to win and more importantly to get the latest ATU news and action alerts sign up at www.atu.org. 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.?
It was the 15th year for the Consulate of Mexico in Calexico to host the event, which drew about 4,000 people.
?We want all the people of Mexican descent in the Valley to remember this part of history, Consul Gina Andrea Blackledge Cruz said. ?Thanks to the men and women who fought for our independence, we have our country and its liberty.?
Many children and women wore traditional Mexican outfits to the event with ribbons woven into little girls? braids as they swished their long, lace-trimmed dresses.
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Mariachi bands, ballet folklorico, grupos Norte?os and headlining act Susane Harp performed for the crowd of family and friends who sat on blankets or in fold-up chairs on the grass in Crummett Park.
?It?s important to celebrate because these are my roots and it?s also to spend time with my family,? Calexico resident Tomas Garcia said.
He joked that Calexico is ?second Mexico? with its high population of residents with Mexican heritage.
?I was born here but also feel I belong to Mexico. I like celebrating it and meeting a lot of people,? his son David Garcia, 16, said.
Many in the crowd, just a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, raised their arms across their chests in salute of the Mexican flag as it was presented alongside the American flag Saturday night.
The consul smiled as she waved the Mexican flag and completed the traditional ?El Grito,? or cry of independence, shouting ?Viva Mexico!? to the excited crowd.
Various entities also used the event as a fundraiser for causes such as Calexico Relay for Life.
The Calexico Desert Valley Bandits sold drinks at the event for the first time this year in order to raise more funds for local high school scholarships. The club has already given out a dozen this year, founder Luis ?Chino? Gonzalez said.
Calexico and Mexicali are one of just more than a dozen sister cities along the U.S.-Mexico border, sharing closely intertwined cultures, economies, geographic regions and political issues.
Calexico City Manager Oscar Rodriquez said it?s important for the community to celebrate Mexico?s independence to show the community?s cooperation and appreciation of each other?s cultures.
The year was 1821 when, after two previous attempts, independence was declared from the Kingdom of Spain. Due to the instability of the Spanish monarchy, the attainment of independence for Central America was relatively peaceful. Unlike other countries in the Americas, which fought fierce battles to become independent states, Central America was the exception.
This is a great time to recognize the contributions Hispanic Americans made to the United States, including excellent books! Here is a list of wonderful children?s books with elements of Hispanic culture, family, and food. Click on the image below to link to a catalog and see if it is available.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th and continues through October 15th. During this time five Latin American countries celebrate the anniversary of independence in 1821 ? Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
In addition to these countries, other Latin American countries also declared their independence during this time. Mexico declared its independence on September 16th, 1810 and Chili on September 18th, 1810.
On September 15, 1821, Guatemala proclaimed independence from Spain for all Central American countries. Most of Central America celebrates Independence Day on the same day including Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
Costa Rica actually learned about their independence from Spain a month later. Few Costa Ricans had sought independence and were surprised by Guatemala?s Proclamation. In 1821, Costa Rica was basically four independent and affiliated towns: Cartago, San Jos?, Heredia and Alajuela.
For a time, Central America banned together as a Central American Federation. However in 1838, Chief of State Braulio Carrillo withdrew and proclaimed Costa Rica a Sovereign State. This was met with resistance, but in 1848, Costa Rica once again proclaimed the country as a Sovereign State and in 1850 Spain recognized Costa Rica as such.
Because Costa Rica was the southernmost province, it finally received the news of its independence on October 13th, 1821. The fact that not a single gunshot was fired to obtain its independence marked Costa Rica as a peace-loving nation. Among the independence documents received from Guatemala, there was a document prepared in Nicaragua. This document is called ?Los Nublados del Dia? which means the ?Clouds of the Day?.
In this document the Nicaraguan government, which was far more developed at the time and therefore closer to colonial rule, insisted that the states should not jump into independence and should wait for the ?clouds of the day? to disperse before the states should make a final decision. However, because this document only reached Costa Rica, it had little effect.
After gaining independence, Costa Rica, along with the other provinces of the Captaincy, briefly joined the Mexican Empire of Agust?n de Iturbide. But because of the distance to the Mexican capital and other underlying conflicts, the Central American states including Costa Rica became federal states of the United Provinces of Central America from 1823 to 1839. In 1824, the capital moved to San Jos?.
In 1838 Costa Rica proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent nation, under the rule of Braulio Carrillo Colina.
In 1856 the Costa Rican army, commanded by Juan Rafael Mora Porras expelled a filibuster invasion, commanded by William Walker. In the battles of Santa Rosa, Rivas and the San Juan campaign, the filibuster army was forced to give up their intentions.
The national hero Juan Santamar?a fought in the battle of Rivas where he set on fire the ?Mes?n? where the invaders had taken refuge.During the 20th century Costa Rica has avoided the violence that has plagued Central America; it is seen as an example of political stability in the region. Since the late 19th century only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development.
In 1949, Jos? Figueres Ferrer abolished the army; making Costa Rica the first country ever to operate within the democratic system without the assistance of a military (an example that was later followed by other nations such as Panama after the American invasion of 1989 to oust General Manuel Noriega). Costa Rica (Spanish for ?Rich Coast?), was a largely agricultural country.
However, during the last few decades, Costa Rica has achieved a relatively high standard of living. Electronics is a rapidly expanding industry, and along with tourism serves as the major industries of the country thanks to its social stability and rich natural environment.
But apart from the particular details that resulted in the region?s independence, and whether or not the grand ideas of that day have been fully achieved, each year we have the opportunity to celebrate in the city streets, to the sound of drums and the roar of marching bands. We can run from our birthplace to Central Park and take the torch, the flame, the light of hope back to our people, or we can just enjoy the excitement, knowing that on this particular day there was a fresh start on the road that led us to this point.
After a brief civil war in 1948, Costa Rica abolished their army.
So on Independence Day, there will be no military displays in Costa Rica. This is a day of parades and concerts and fireworks. Children make faroles which are little wooden or cardboard lanterns often in the red, white and blue colors of the flag. The faroles have many designs and popular ones are their home, animals, or vehicles. They are on a pole with a candle inside.
The celebrationactually starts on September 11 in Guatemala City where a flaming torch is carried all the way to the former colonial capital of Costa Rica in Cartago. This symbolized the arrival of the news of independence. The torch bearers are children selected from local schools throughout Central America. The torch crosses the Nicaraguan border into Costa Rica on the 14 of September and arrives in the northern town of Liberia for a sunset ceremony. Along the way, torch bearers from other parts will light a torch and carry it to festivities in their home towns.
The torch arrives in Cartago at the Basilica de Los Angeles, at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 for the National Ceremony.
The stakes in the U.S. election are higher than ever before. What?s at stake? The future of our jobs, our children, the labor movement, mass transit and all working families. That?s why all transit workers need to help us get out the vote.
ATU has been busy gearing up with member trainings across the U.S. to learn the skills to mobilize ATU volunteers and build coalitions with riders to elect pro-transit and pro-labor candidates to office.
To launch our election campaign ATU is holding our first-ever, international webcast, ?Rocking the Transit World? for all members to watch on Sunday, September 30 at 7 pm ET.
The event will feature high profile speakers talking about the importance of this U.S. election and why transit workers must get involved. All members are encouraged to host a viewing party at their homes or union halls to watch this can?t miss event. Check out the ATU WEBSITE for further details and updates.
Most importantly be sure to mark your calendar now and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday, September 30 at 7 pm ET!
On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, four U.S. airliners were turned into guided missiles after they were hijacked by al-Qaeda suicide bombers and crashed into three sites in the U.S., killing approximately 3,000 people.
Two of the planes struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, igniting fires that destroyed the 110-storey landmarks, while a third crashed into the west wing of the Pentagon in Washington. A fourth plane, which was believed to be heading for the White House, crashed in a field 120 kilometres southeast of Pittsburgh.
Names used by the hijackers, some of whom learned to fly at American pilot schools:
American Airlines Flight 11
Crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center North Tower at 8.48 a.m.
Waleed M. Alshehri
Wail M. Alshahri
United Airlines Flight 175
Crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center South Tower at 9.03 a.m.
Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al-Qadi Banihammad
American Airlines Flight 77
Crashed into the Pentagon at 9.39 a.m.
United Airlines Flight 93
Crashed in a Pennsylvania field at 10.10 a.m.
Ziad Samir al-Jarrah
Ahmed Ibrahim al-Haznawi
Masterminded by al-Qaeda
Not long after the attacks, officials in the U.S. identified Pakistan-born Khalid Sheik Mohammed as the senior al-Qaeda strategist who orchestrated the plot. He had been previously implicated in a 1995 plot known as Operation Bojinka, an early version of the Sept. 11 assault concept, that was broken up by police in the Philippines before it could be carried out. Mohammed was captured in 2003.
A rude Awakening
The attacks forced a new reality on the Western world, and on Americans in particular.
In the ensuing years, particularly before a formal U.S. inquiry known as the 9/11 Commission, evidence emerged that American authorities had received warnings about imminent attacks in the months leading up to Sept. 11, both from their own intelligence agencies and at least four foreign governments.
Determined not to be caught off guard again, the Bush administration dramatically reorganized its intelligence operations. It expanded unilateral presidential powers; set up a Department of Homeland Security that would introduce drastic changes to travel requirements and tighten airport and border security; and launched a wide-ranging “war on terror” that saw U.S. troops invade Afghanistan and oust the Taliban government, which had played host to al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and his senior lieutenants.
In the spring of 2003, the war on terror led to the invasion of Iraq after the U.S. accused its dictator, Saddam Hussein, of creating weapons of mass destruction. American forces toppled Saddam, but none of those weapons were ever found. The fighting in Iraq triggered a series of upheavals, many along Muslim sectarian lines, in the Middle East and turned the entire region into an international hot spot.
Five years later
Six years after the attack, and despite America’s overwhelming military might, bin Laden remains at large and the American-led coalition in Iraq has become bogged down in an unpopular war. Close to 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq and confidence in the Bush presidency has plunged.
Canada stayed out of the Iraq war, a decision taken by the Liberal government of the day. However, to assist in the war on terror, Canadian forces have taken the lead role in Afghanistan, where they have engaged in a series of bloody encounters with remnants of the fundamentalist Taliban army.
So far, Canada has been spared any direct attacks but the country has not been immune to terror’s threat: In June 2006, police charged 17 people, most of them young and of South Asian descent, with plotting to blow up landmarks in Toronto and Ottawa.
Winnipeg?s city bus driver union is calling for increased security after a passenger was stabbed on a Winnipeg Transit bus Saturday night.
Two 20-year-old men were riding on the bus when one was stabbed by another man. All three exited the bus. Now two of the men are facing charges.
The incident isn?t the only time violence has broken out on a city bus this summer. In July, a spate of pepper sprayings on city buses left people needing medical attention.
For Jim Girden of the Amalgamated Transit Union incidents like those underline the need for a transit police force.
?What we?re looking for is a group ? a police force ? somebody who has the authority to detain them, arrest them and charge them,? said Girden.
Passenger Raymond Lucier says he has seen his share of violence riding city buses. In the last two months he?s seen three fights while riding on the number 16 bus.
?It?s not pretty sometimes,? said Lucier.
Passenger Sarah Odoh echoed Lucier?s concerns, saying she?s been hurt on city buses.
?I have a disability,? said Odoh. ?They push you, and they don?t care.?
Odoh and Lucier?s experiences seem to be in line with what city numbers are showing ? assaults against bus drivers are up 300 per cent over the last six years.
A report to city hall recommended changing the angles of the cameras on buses to aid in investigations and prosecutions.
City councillor Brian Mayes said it?s time to go a step further. Mayes wants police officers on trouble bus routes or the creation of a transit police unit.
?We?ve had a summer where we?ve had some incidents like the most recent stabbing,? said Mayes. ?It?s certainly raising the need to do something.?
Mayes estimated the unit would cost the city about $500,000.
An alternative option would be to give the city?s 13 transit inspectors batons and handcuffs with the power to detain unruly or violent passengers, Mayes said.
Girden said that option may be too dangerous for inspectors, and he would prefer to see police officers dealing with the problem. He said the union would also like to see more aggressive prosecution against those who are charged with assaults on buses.
A report from transit officials is expected to land at city hall in October.
Bus driver union want Winnipeg Transit police unit
The story will be repeated over and over again, and until something more serious will happen God forbids even against Bus operators, authorities will do something about it, but more importantly it’s better to work on prevention than cure, in the long run not only passengers but operators will think twice in working/riding in those high risk routes. For some passengers it’s not a matter of choice they don’t have another meaning of transportation and that of course puts everybody at risk, we should stop talking about it and do more action because sooner or later it will be more incidents, assaults, property and city damage and if we still ignoring these facts, all the efforts made to improve city services, upgrades, routes and assistance, will be just another waste of energy, tax money, resources and sometimes even lives. Solutions are suggested and being put in place but they are not realistic, changing the angle cameras on Transit buses; and giving more power to Transit Inspectors will not help to prevent or avoid an assault, that’s not realistic implementing Transit Police that’s more realistic, we can see those examples from another cities across the country and see all the statistics they show a big decrease in these kind of incidents/assaults and more; why? Simple, individuals who are thinking in commit a crime would think twice, they will be exposed to fines, Jail, and even making the prime time news. In order to be more realistic, we better off in thinking common sense and not just words.
A HEROIC bus driver?s swift actions saved a group of foreign tourists ? and a lot of their luggage.
The man, whose identity is a mystery, sprung into action at about 11.45am yesterday when he spotted smoke coming from the engine compartment at the rear of his coach.
He managed to pull the vehicle into a layby on the eastbound carriageway of the A66, near Appleby.
Tony Harrison, station manager at Kendal fire station, said: ?The driver got all the passengers off the bus, by which time there was quite a bit of smoke coming in.
?He did really well because there were Asian passengers on board so there would have been a little bit of a language barrier.
?The driver then got out all the luggage he could, as the fire quickly developed.?
Firefighters from Appleby and Kirkby Stephen were swiftly on scene, where they found the coach well alight.
A shuttle system had to be put in operation to ferry water to the site and it took fire crews almost an hour to fully extinguish the blaze. The driver needed oxygen therapy at the scene for smoke inhalation. One lane of the A66 remained closed until after 2pm.
The tourists were believed to be heading to York for the day as part of a private sightseeing tour.
Mr Harrison added: ?When we left the scene a replacement bus was en route to the tourists.
?They were all taking pictures of the incident, so at least they will have some interesting holiday snaps.?
The majority of Americans think of Labor Day as a day off of work and their last chance to go to the beach or pool, or to attend a cookout with friends to celebrate the end of summer. Too often we overlook its original purpose ? to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers, and to remember the extraordinary sacrifices made by union members in their fight for the weekend, paid vacation, sick time and the 40-hour workweek. Though they may seem commonplace today, men and women gave their lives in the struggle for work standards that improved the lives of so many who followed.
However, we seem to have taken a step backward in the workplace, because to most Americans, the 40-hour workweek seems like a thing of the past. Many people must work extra hours or find a second job just to make ends meet. And employers are seeking to squeeze ever more out of an exhausted workforce.
So Americans are working harder than ever before, and for less, while unemployment stubbornly remains above 8 percent.
What if I told you our nation could create jobs, achieve better work-life-balance, and improve worker productivity for businesses by shortening the workweek? It?s not as farfetched as you might think.
France instituted a 35-hour workweek in 2000, which experts say brought unemployment down and improved worker productivity. Many other advanced economies likewise have workweeks of 35 hours or less.
Furthermore, study after study reveals that in both blue- and white-collar jobs, long hours kill profits, hurt worker productivity and jeopardize safety on the job. These undisputed facts have been largely forgotten as the actual American workweek steadily increases.
By better enforcing the 40-hour workweek at a more livable wage, employers would have to hire unemployed Americans to work the overtime hours, which they force their current employees to work. Furthermore, the productivity of all workers would go up, benefiting employers. Increasing employment also means more money would be spent at local businesses. It?s a win-win proposition for all.
A look at its history shows there is real science behind the practice, and for many years corporate America embraced it. Most people think that the eight-hour day and the 40-hour workweek were created simply to give people time every week to live their own lives. In fact, this is not the case.
In 1914 Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers? pay and cutting shifts in his auto plants from nine hours to eight. Although he was criticized, many of his competitors later climbed on board when they saw how Ford?s business boomed as a result.
When the Great Depression hit, President Herbert Hoover proposed a bill that would reduce the workweek to 30 hours in an attempt to avoid mass layoffs. It passed in Senate; however, it didn?t make it through the House.
Not surprisingly, FDR also tried to push for shorter hours to lower unemployment, but was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the Walsh-Healy Public Contracts Act of 1936 required the federal government to pay its contractors overtime wages after eight hours of work in a day. And then the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established the five-day, 40-hour workweek for everyone, a standard we observe today.
By the 1960s, the benefits of the 40-hour week were accepted almost beyond question in corporate America. In 1962, the Chamber of Commerce even published a pamphlet extolling the productivity gains of reduced hours.
But today, many employers do not want to invest in additional staff, believing they can cut corners by keeping the workforce small, paying them lower wages and forcing overtime on their workers. Thus over the past few decades, 50- or even 60-hour workweeks have become the norm, expected by employers and needed by workers to make ends meet. Unfortunately, what they are really doing is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Those extra hours cost them more than they?re worth in terms of productivity loss. And for the workers, there is a price to be paid for these long days that many of us accept without complaint. Our families, our health, and sometimes our safety all suffer.
Americans are not only working more hours per week, but our compensation has either flat-lined or fallen behind where it was just a few years ago. The toll this takes on morale also affects productivity in an era when so many are struggling to get ahead and find success.
The overall economy suffers, too, because the growing workload of those who are employed limits job growth and increases unemployment. Consumers buy less as a result, and the tax base shrinks.
There was a time in this country when individual workers could earn enough to support a family from a job in which they worked just 40 hours per week ? a job that also provided paid sick days, vacations, health insurance, and a pension. But that kind of employment is a thing of the past for too many U.S. workers.
However, this Labor Day, let?s look back at the hard fought 40-hour workweek and start a national discussion on how shortening the workweek could help our nation dig out of this recession by putting more people to work, improving the productivity of workers, and improving the lives of all Americans.