Archive for March, 2013

ATU, coalition push for more transit in Minnesota


ATU Local?1005?? Minneapolis joined with transit advocates in St. Paul to push for bills that would expand mass transit in Minnesota.?Members of Transit for a Stronger Economy, a coalition of 51 groups, are promoting bills in the Minnesota legislature that would raise sales taxes in the Twin Cities area, provide dedicated funding for state transit systems and bicycle and pedestrian lanes, and redirect state revenue toward a ?comprehensive build-out? of public transit in the North Star State.

The coalition says expanding transit investments would keep the state?s economy competitive by delivering a ?trifecta of benefits for state taxpayers, spurring business and job growth, reducing pollution and providing low- and moderate-income workers with greater access to family-sustaining jobs.??Read more.

NYC school bus companies throw workers under the bus

Only weeks after a bitter month-long strike, NYC school bus companies have announced plans to drastically slash school bus drivers’ and matrons’ wages by 7.5%, eliminate their pay during weeklong Christmas and Easter breaks, and require employees to pay more for health care.

Local?1181?President Michael Cordiello has vowed to seek a court injunction to stop the owners from declaring an impasse in contract talks and imposing new conditions and warned his members may vote to go back on strike.

?This what what we warned about all along,? said International President Larry Hanley. ?Mayor Bloomberg set the stage for a bunch of fat cat bus owners who all own yachts to gut the livelihood of ordinary workers in a race to the bottom.??Read more.

Atlanta transit coalition delivers 5,600 anti-privatization petitions

More than 5,600 signed petitions calling on State Senators to vote against proposed legislation to outsource many of MARTA’s operations were delivered to Georgia Senate Transportation Committee by Georgians for Better Transit (G4BT) and ATU Local?732?- Atlanta.

The coalition has been collecting signatures of riders across Atlanta as part of a comprehensive campaign to fight the legislation (HB264), which was passed in State House and is currently being considered by the Senate Transportation Committee.

?These more than 5,600 Atlantans are sending a loud and clear message to the State Senate that outsourcing MARTA is bad for riders, the community and workers,? said Dr.?Quincy?Harris, pictured on the right and chair of the NAACP state conference and political action committee, who delivered the petitions.? NAACP is a coalition partner of Georgians for Better Transit. ?The Senate needs to put the brakes on this misguided, racially biased legislation now.?

Georgians for Better Transit is made up of ATU Local 732, Stand-Up Georgia, NAACP Georgia, the Georgia Federation of the Blind, the People?s Agenda and others.

Push for late night bus service in Edmonton

When Edmonton?s downtown bars, restaurants and nightlife close, workers and late night revelers only have the option of driving or taking a cab home. Downtown night beat police, tired of pulling over drunk drivers, are pushing the idea of a late night transit service. Advocates have presented a pilot project to the Edmonton transportation committee.

Chair of the committee Amarjeet Sohi supports the idea and thinks the cost is worth it. ?I think this is a service that we need to try,? he said, adding businesses would benefit by being able to retain staff who have to get home after their shifts. ?Public transit is a very essential service. People who work night shifts also pay taxes, so they need access to that service.??Read more.

Public transportation infrastructure receives a “D”

It?s no surprise to ATU members that U.S. public transportation infrastructure received a ?D? grade in the 2013 Report Card for America?s Infrastructure released by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) this week.

The report titled??Failure to Act, the Impact of Current Infrastructure Investment on America?s Economic Future??emphasizes that the American economy lost $90 billion in 2010 due to the lack of investment in public transportation.? Despite public transit ridership rising 9.1 percent over the past decade, 45 percent of Americans still lack access to public transit in their communities.

?With more than 80 percent of transit systems cutting service or increasing fares since 2008, it?s no shock that public transportation was graded a D,? said International President Larry Hanley. ?It?s another clear message to Congress that it?s time to start investing in public transit to meet the growing demand.??Read more.

Same old song: Portland transit GM blames workers for budget woes

Once again, Neil McFarlane, general manager of Portland, OR?s TriMet transit system is blaming Local?757?for the agency?s budget problems, saying ATU members there have, ?the most generous health care benefits in the country.??McFarlane did not explain how it?s possible that almost every other urban transit system can also have ?the most generous? wages and/or benefits in the country, as their managers claim just before contract negotiations.

The GM says that TriMet cannot realign its routes to accommodate the migration of the area?s population over the last 20 years until the union helps them balance the budget.?The local wants TriMet to cut management salaries instead, which should happen right after pigs sprout wings on Oregon farms.?Read more.

Wake up call? Transportation workers rank last in wellbeing

Transportation workers have the lowest overall wellbeing scores in the United States, according to a new report released by the Gallup organization.

In what should be a wake-up call for many of us, Gallup reported that transportation workers have the highest level of obesity and the third-highest smoking rate among the occupations measured, results that are congruent with their less frequent exercise habits and lower levels of produce consumption. This combination puts transportation workers at the highest risk for developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and makes them more susceptible to cancer than workers in other occupations.?Read more.

Get the latest ATU news and a chance to win at ATU jacket!

Stay connected and you could win an ATU jacket. More winners will be announced soon.?

For a chance to win an ATU jacket and receive the latest ATU news and action alerts sign up at?atu.org. To be eligible for the drawings, simply type your e-mail, local union number, and zip or postal code in the boxes on the opening page and click ?Go.?? Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win in this contest.

Have you thanked your bus driver lately?

P1020764International Bus Driver Appreciation Day is Monday, March 18, 2013.

Consider this: For hours on end, transit bus drivers manage to keep a schedule, check fares, give directions, announce stops, remember stop requests and more, all while safely maneuvering an extra-large vehicle through unpredictable traffic, adverse weather conditions and some really tight spaces! The fact is, bus drivers don’t have an easy job,?they just make it look that way.

On March 18, join us in celebrating the contributions of our hard-working transit bus drivers (and rail operators, too!). That could be as simple as a smile when you board the bus, and a “thank you” when you leave. Or, you can print out and personalize one of the?thank-you cards below. You can also help by?spreading the word?using the sharing links provided. And, don’t forget to submit an official commendation for a job well done, so your drivers can be formally recognized for their efforts. (You can do that any time of year!

Portland Transit execs get raises while service gets cut & fares rise


In the last year Portland?s transit system cut bus service for the fifth time in four years and saddled riders with the biggest fare increase in history, but managers still decided to give themselves pay raises.

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane started green-lighting raises for managers making $110,000 or more in February 2012, even as he publicly talked about how he had frozen their pay and complained about having to make tough choices forced on the agency by a $12 million budget shortfall.

Riders and workers are understandably up in arms over this development that was uncovered by an investigative report by The Oregonian.

?The management pay increases and the way they were made is offensive,” said Bruce Hansen, president of ATU Local?757?? Portland, which has been in a contract dispute with TriMet. ?What we’ve got going on in the management ranks is over the top. They keep hiring and giving raises to people they don’t need to make the system run. I mean?do we need 14 attorneys at TriMet?”?Read more.

Assaulted Boston bus driver a hero

A Boston bus driver who was beaten by as many as 15 youths is being hailed as a hero for engaging the brakes while being attacked to prevent anyone else from being hurt or even killed by his runaway bus.

The disturbing attack has Boston transit cops and ATU Local?589?- Boston jointly calling for the passage of a bill already before the Legislature that would allow people suspected of assaulting public employees to be arrested in cases where attacks aren?t witnessed by law enforcement. Victims must now take their complaint to a magistrate.

?It is well past time for a crackdown on the thugs that target working women and men on any public transit job,? said Local 589 President John Lee. ?This assault by a reported mob on an isolated Local 589 member simply doing his job illustrates the need for public safety officials and the Legislature to act quickly before a transit worker is killed.??Read more.

Attacks on transit workers are becoming all too common. The ATU and Transport Workers Union (TWU) are working together on a campaign to deal with this disturbing trend.

Will record transit ridership finally translate to funding increase?

More than 10.5 billion riders took public transit last year, which marked the second highest yearly total since 1957, according to the latest figures released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

?But will the record increase in public transit ridership finally convince Congress our nation must meet this growing demand?? asks ATU International President Larry Hanley.

Hanley pointed out that despite the ridership increase, commuters across the country are paying higher fares and waiting longer for crowded buses and trains, if they come at all. Eighty percent of transit systems have had to cut service or increase fares since 2008.

?As Congress struggles to resolve the sequester problem, it needs to recognize that the American people want more public transportation and are willing to pay for it,? said Hanley. In the past year 76 percent of all ballot measures to increase taxes for mass transit passed.?Read more.

Automated trains could threaten safety say Toronto transit workers

Toronto?s transit system is exploring taking the human operators out of driving subway trains by using automated trains, but Local?113?? Toronto has concerns about the impact on safety and believes the public also will.

Under the plan, a driver would press a button to close the doors and then sit back as computers pilot the subway through the tunnel to the next station. While the Toronto Transit Commission?s officials claim there are no plans to remove humans entirely, the Local is concerned TTC may consider moving to a one-person crew. Currently each car has an operator and a guard to respond to passenger alarms.

?I have almost no concern that the TTC would go to a fully automated system, because I do not believe that the general public in Toronto would accept that, never mind the pushback that they?ll get from us,? said Local 113 President Bob Kinnear. ?I think that the people of Toronto have a high expectation of safety. I do believe that the public will rise up and raise their concerns as it comes closer, as there?s more and more suggestion that we go to one-person trains.??Read more.

Massachusetts tour bus operator shuttered for safety violations

For the second time this month, another Massachusetts-based tour bus company has been shut down for serious safety violations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) ordered Springfield, Mass.-based Santana Busline Inc., to cease operations and declared the company to be an imminent hazard to public safety for failing to ensure its drivers and vehicles complied with federal safety regulations.

FMSCA Investigators found Santana failed to ensure that its drivers comply with hours-of-service requirements and allowed unqualified drivers to operate its vehicles. The company also violated safety inspections for buses and knowingly sent out vehicles with safety defects.

While the government?s crackdown on unscrupulous bus operators has had some success the ATU has strongly argued that these fatal tour bus accidents will continue until federal law is amended to require these companies to pay their bus drivers overtime.?Read more.

?How many more people need to die in bus crashes before Congress and the agencies address the real problem behind these accidents ? driver fatigue,? says ATU International President Larry Hanley.

Mass transit has a friend in the Vatican

Newly elected Pope Francis is well known for taking the bus and subway to work and public events rather than a private car as Archbishop of Buenos Aires

Even after he was elected this week in Rome, Pope Francis chose to ride the bus with his brother cardinals rather than be driven in the famous papal limousine.

His hometown of Buenos Aires is known for having a very advanced transit system with an extensive subway and many buses.

Maybe he?ll deliver a sermon on the benefits and importance of public transportation to our society.

Get the latest ATU news and a chance to win at ATU jacket!

Stay connected and you could win an ATU jacket. More winners will be announced soon.?

For a chance to win an ATU jacket and receive the latest ATU news and action alerts sign up at?atu.org. To be eligible for the drawings, simply type your e-mail, local union number, and zip or postal code in the boxes on the opening page and click ?Go.?? Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win in this contest.

 

REPORT: TIME FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO SUPPORT MARTA

Media Contact: David Roscow, 202-537-1645 x 254

Atlanta, GA – Calling on the Georgia General Assembly to provide dedicated state funding support for MARTA, Atlanta?s financially ailing transit system, Georgians for Better Transit and the Amalgamated Transit Union released a new report today documenting that MARTA is the largest U.S. system receiving no state operating assistance and criticizing proposed legislation to outsource many of MARTA?s operations.

?Georgia?s Public Transportation Crisis ? The Time for the Georgia General Assembly to Act is Now??highlights how the lack of state funding, unique to Georgia, has threatened the viability and service of MARTA even as ridership has soared in this increasingly transit-dependent metropolitan area. ?The number of people who depend on MARTA to get to their jobs ? nearly 100,000? ? has tripled in the past five years. The report can be found?here.

?While other States have opened up their wallets and wisely supported public transit, Georgia has instead decided to purposely starve MARTA along with its 127 smaller transit systems throughout the state,” the reports says. “This is a case of neglect and it has been going on for far too long. The question is why?”

The report pointed out that Atlanta has the fastest growth rate of any southeastern city, with a population of more than a million people, yet trails far behind other cities in terms of transit service and state funding support. In 2010 Georgia invested only $2.2 million statewide in transit while Florida invested $185 million. Furthermore, the Assembly has handcuffed MARTA by allowing just a 1 percent sales tax in Fulton and Dekalb counties and only 50 percent of that can be used for transit operations.

?No state funding. Huge restrictions on local funding,? the report said. ?This is a formula contrived to ensure MARTA is contained to a designated area with no hope for growth, and result has been exactly as designed.?

The result of this lack of funding, the reports says, led to the shutdown of the transit system in Clayton County, leaving 8,500 people — 81 percent of whom make less than $35,000/year and most whom have no car — stranded with no way to work or get around. Now the state legislature has approved direct funding ($8.1 million proposed this year) to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) to run Xpress bus service, which provides service in counties with ?choice riders,? with an average household income of just under $75,000.

Further emphasizing this point, a Brookings Institution study found that ?the fact that most public transportation riders are African-American has limited MARTA?s growth in predominantly white and well-off suburban areas.?

To deal with the funding crisis, the report urged the General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 92 (Fort), which for the first time would provide dedicated funding for public transportation systems statewide.

?Georgia?s Public Transportation Crisis?also criticized pending legislation to privatize MARTA as the wrong solution that would lead to a foreign company running the system, shipping of profits overseas, while raising fares and cutting service. The recommendation was based on a slanted KPMG report that used faulty data and poor comparisons. In addition, a majority of recent studies, the report reveals, ?have found that mandated privatization of public transit through competitive bidding reduces the standard of living for workers and diminishes the transportation service provided to communities.? Examples of failed transit privatization can be found in Long Island, San Diego, Toledo and Sacramento.

The coalition is asking the General Assembly to act now to deal with state?s public transportation crisis by creating a dedicated revenue source with adequate funding for public transportation; abolishing laws restricting the use of local transit dollars for transit operations; and keeping public transportation public.

?The Georgia General Assembly now has a clear choice which will impact our region for decades to come,? the report concludes. ?Fund MARTA and let it reach its full potential, or privatize MARTA and hand it over to foreign corporations which are only interested in padding their profits.?

?About the ATU

The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.

Transit group: Ridership topped 10 billion in 2012

More than 10 billion Americans trips on public transportation in 2012, the group that advocates for more mass transit funding said on Monday.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said there were 10.5 billion public transit system riders last year, which the group said marked the second highest yearly total since 1957.

The Washington, D.C.-based APTA said the ridership totals marked the seventh consecutive year transit system passenger traffic was above 10 billion.?

 

APTA President Michael Melanpihy said the figures showed vitality of public transportation across the country.

“Every mode of public transportation showed an increase in ridership,” Melanpihy said in a statement. “Public transit ridership grew in all areas of the country ? north, south, east, and west — in small, medium and large communities, with at least 16 public transit systems reporting record ridership.?

Public transit advocates quickly used the numbers Monday to argue that Congress should boost funding for public transportation systems.

“Will the record increase in public transit ridership finally convince Congress our nation must meet this growing demand,” Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Larry Hanley said in a statement Monday.

?Despite continuing ridership growth, commuters all over the country are paying higher fares and waiting longer for crowded buses and trains, if they come at all,” Hanley continued. “From Detroit, MI, to Tacoma, WA, to Long Island, NY, 80 percent of transit systems have had to cut service or increase fares since 2008.”

Hanley said the APTA report was the “latest of many showing the same thing: ridership is surging, and communities that provide more mass transit also experience a growing economy.”

Melaniphy attributed the increase in public transit ridership to volatility in gas prices and increases in employment in densely-populated areas of the country.

?Public transportation saves people money, and people save even more so when gas prices spike,” he said. “Also, since nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it makes sense that ridership increases in areas where the economy has improved and new jobs have been added.?

The full APTA report can be read?here.

Assaulted driver kept bus from rolling

A selfless but ?sore? MBTA bus driver who police said was beaten by as many as 15 wilding youths Saturday morning told his union he was grateful he had time to engage the brakes before anyone else could be hurt or even killed by a 6,000-pound runaway coach while he was being pummeled.

John Laughlin, spokesman for Carmen?s Union ATU Local 589, said the driver told union president John Lee yesterday he is ?sore and pretty upset.?

?The most important thing to him is he was able to step on the brake and stop the bus from rolling,? Laughlin said. ?It?s a 6,000-pound missile.?

The Route 16 bus, which travels between the Andrew and Forest Hills stations, was carrying passengers but was not equipped with security cameras, Transit Police Superintendent-in-Chief Joseph O?Connor said. If caught and convicted, O?Connor said, those responsible could be facing up to ?20 years hard time for felony interference with public transportation.

?It?s a highly unusual crime and it?s quite concerning to us,? O?Connor said. ?It appears some individuals may have tried to grab him through the window while he was still in his seat. We don?t know if they?re related, but in this case a woman tried to board the bus. There was a fare dispute. She threw a fare card at (the driver). The group stood in front of the bus and stopped the bus from proceeding.?

The disturbing beatdown of the 53-year-old driver, just after 1 a.m. Saturday at Columbia Road and Geneva Avenue, has T cops and union officials jointly calling for enactment of a bill already before the Legislature that would allow people suspected of assaulting public employees to be arrested in cases where attacks aren?t witnessed by law enforcement, instead of requiring victims to take their complaint to a magistrate.

?It is well past time for a crackdown on the thugs that target working women and men on any public transit job,? Lee said in a statement. ?This assault by a reported mob on an isolated Local 589 member simply doing his job illustrates the need for public safety officials and the Legislature to act quickly before a transit worker is killed.?

Said O?Connor, ?Unfortunately what happens in a lot of these cases is the suspect simply gets summonsed to court.?

O?Connor said the driver, a T employee since 2010, was treated for minor injuries at Boston Medical Center and released. He urges anyone with information helpful to the investigation to call Transit Police detectives at 617-222-1050.

http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/03/assaulted_driver_kept_bus_from_rolling

Local school bus drivers trained to prevent violence

 

Corey Perrine/Staff
Justin Tyndall of Fort Myers gets into character screaming because of fake injuries Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 at the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla. With the help of 46 local organizations and 450 participants, the airport conducted a full-scale emergency training exercise.

PHOTO BY?COREY PERRINE, NAPLES DAILY NEWS

Corey Perrine/Staff Justin Tyndall of Fort Myers gets into character screaming because of fake injuries Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 at the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla. With the help of 46 local organizations and 450 participants, the airport conducted a full-scale emergency training exercise.

After an argument turned physical last month on a Lee County school bus, deputies say a 15-year-old student pulled a gun on a classmate and threatened to shoot him.

Witnesses said several students helped wrestle the gun away from Quadrayle Davis, and the victim?s sister helped pull him off the bus and get home safely. But an arrest report makes no mention of an intervention by the bus driver.

State law not only permits but directs bus drivers to take matters into their own hands if needed. Local school administrators say drivers are trained on how to prevent or stop violence ? especially in the case of weapons on board.

For a driver not to make any sort of intervention would be unusual, but it?s likely the driver transporting Cypress Lake High School football players last month wasn?t aware there was a firearm on the bus, said Patrick Hayhurst, the district?s director of security.

?As far as I?m aware, in almost every case, they do react,? he said. ?(The driver) knew there was screaming and yelling … but he didn?t know what was going on.?

State law mandates that drivers have control of their student passengers at all times, even instructing them in extreme cases to go as far as using reasonable force to prevent themselves or students from being harmed. In the case of a fight, drivers are directed to ask students to stop, pull over the bus and call dispatch to contact parents, according to a Florida Department of Education procedures manual.

If they?re unable to gain control, drivers are told to call dispatch for help, get other students off the bus and intervene if the situation is life-threatening. For any situation in which a weapon is brought on board, bus drivers are directed to call 911 and follow the directions of law enforcement.

Some school districts instruct drivers to contact dispatch even if any situation seems out of the ordinary, as is the case in Collier County, which received national attention after a fatal bus stop stabbing two years ago.

In January 2011, a substitute bus driver was on the route when Palmetto Ridge High School students Dylan Nuno and Jorge Saavedra exited and began fighting. Saavedra fatally stabbed Nuno but later was found justified through the state?s ?stand your ground? law.

The bus driver had a clean disciplinary record and was not suspended from driving routes as a result of the situation, officials said.

Drivers and bus attendants in Collier County are trained on violence prevention, controlling bullying and managing crisis situations, said David Ogilvie, the school district?s director of transportation.

?Our drivers are instructed and trained that they are to contact dispatch immediately when an emergency or accident arises, including any incident occurring on the bus,? he said.

Hayhurst, the director of security in Lee County, said February?s case remains under both an internal and a Sheriff?s Office investigation. Deputies learned of the gun threat only after the victim arrived home and told his parents, who then called for help, according to reports.

?I?m not saying it?s not serious,? Hayhurst said. But ?we didn?t know until later that it was going on.?

Reports also said the bus? onboard camera system was not functioning at the time of the scuffle, meaning officials must piece together their investigation through witness accounts. Hayhurst said it was possible the bus driver?s view of the gun was obstructed by other passengers.

?When kids stand up, obviously the kids in front are blocking the view,? he said. ?That could have been the problem.?

Hayhurst said he did not know if the bus driver had been disciplined, referring questions to transportation director Robert Morgan. However, several attempts to reach Morgan throughout the week were unsuccessful.

? 2013 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.?

MV Transportation’s political corruption exposed

As ATU wages privatization battles in Atlanta, GA; Ontario, Canada; West Palm Beach, FL, and other cities, an in-depth investigation exposes how MV Transportation, one of a handful of major private transportation providers, kept their contract with Fairfield, CA, despite being fined 295 times for items poor performance, too many accidents, missed bus runs and late buses between 2008 to 2010.

It?s a cautionary tale for cities considering privatizing their transit systems.

MV was able to circumvent contract enforcement by the city?s transit agency (FAST) by appealing directly to Fairfield city councilors ? some of whom had received $10,000 political contributions from the transit provider.

It?s riders like retiree Albert Sanchez who ultimately end up suffering. Sanchez and his wife use the bus to get to and from the mall in Fairfield and their home a few miles away. ?The bus is always late. It?s always late,? said Sanchez.

Former Fairfield Transit Manager George Fink says, ?If you had a contractor that wanted to run the business and not maximize their profit at every turn, then it would be fine. As it tends to work out, you?re spending 85 percent of the time making sure that they?re doing everything in the contract instead of doing the things you need to be doing???Read more.

Report debunks Atlanta transit system privatization recommendation

Recent recommendations by KPMG that Atlanta?s MARTA transit system consider ?outsourcing? many of its operations are based on incomplete data and ?simply preposterous? comparisons with other transit agencies says a noted Columbia University public service economist.

In?Faulty Data, Wrong Conclusions?Dr. Elliot Sclar shows how ?false comparisons, illegitimate cost measures, imperfect data, and short-sighted observations? were used in the KPMG report?to arrive at the conclusion that Atlanta should consider privatizing the city?s transit agency.

The new report is part of the groundswell of opposition by ATU Local?732?– Atlanta and transit advocates to fight against looming changes being proposed by the Georgia state legislature in the management and oversight of metro Atlanta?s largest transit system.?Read more.

DC Metro operators help avert suicides

Local?689?- Washington, DC members deserve a medal for saving the lives of three persons attempting to commit suicide on Metro tracks last week.?In all three instances, the operators managed to stop their trains before running over the two men and one woman who were attempting to end their lives.?Read more.

 

New York?s MTA is exploring using a laser-activated alarm system that would alert drivers and security personnel if anyone was on the tracks ahead of them.?Read more.?Such a system might also protect maintenance workers who have at times been killed while doing their jobs on U.S. metro rail tracks.

IVP Hamilton named to DOT Committee on motorcoach safety

Newly-appointed International Vice President Bruce Hamilton has been named a member of the Motor Carrier Safety Committee (MCSAC) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).?Hamilton, formerly local president of Local?1700?- Greyhound-National, is among five new MCSAC members who will begin their terms on April 1. ??He has worked on motorcoach safety throughout his career including fighting for Fair Labor Standards Act coverage for intercity bus workers.

Established by Congress in 2006, the MCSAC is charged with providing information, advice and recommendations to FMCSA on safety programs and regulations for large trucks and commercial buses.?Read more.


 

Halifax members file grievance against non-union expansion

Local?508?– Halifax, NS, members filed a grievance this week over a $10,000 grant the city plans to give ?Musgo,? a new ?rider coop? that would serve rural areas.

Local President Ken Wilson says that if Halifax Regional Municipality wants to provide transit to the Eastern Shore or elsewhere, it can send unionized drivers to do it.?Full-salaried drivers could drive vans, Wilson says. In some cases, Metro Transit employees with disabilities that disqualify them from driving buses could be put to work in smaller vehicles.

He questioned whether the municipality was going to ?fund taxi drivers,? saying that?s what MusGo Rider Co-op sounds like to him.?Read more.

Another day, another ATU member attacked

In what is becoming a horrifyingly commonplace occurrence in the U.S. and Canada, a member was attacked with a stun gun and robbed last Saturday morning during her run through Chicago?s Austin neighborhood.?A passerby who noticed the 40-year-old operator slumped over the wheel of her bus on the side of the road flagged down another bus driver who called 911.

The driver told police that her attacker started yelling at her to let him off soon after she picked him up.?He then attacked her with the stun gun in the neck, chest and arm, took cash from her pockets and fled.?The driver was taken to the hospital, treated, and released.? The attack is among several in recent months against CTA bus drivers.?Read more.

New ATU jacket winner, stay connected to win!

Congratulations to ATU?s latest jacket winner Brunel Toussaint of school bus Local?1181?? New York City!

Stay connected and you too could win an ATU jacket like Brunel and Jerry Knighten of Local?1742?? Charleston, pictured on the right with Local 1742 President Dave Sayre.

Please pass this message along to your fellow members and tell them to sign up for the latest ATU news and action alerts at?www.atu.org?for a chance to win an ATU jacket. To be eligible for the drawings, simply type your e-mail, local union number, and zip or postal code in the boxes on the opening page and click ?Go.?? Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win in this contest.?

Atlanta transit workers, advocates rally & leaflet against proposed privatization bill

 

Almost 2,000 transit riders signed a petition telling Georgia State Senators to vote against proposed legislation to privatize Atlanta’s mass transit system (MARTA) at a rally of MARTA workers and transit advocates.

The coalition, which includes Local?732?- Atlanta,?Georgians for Better Transit?and the Georgia Federation of the Blind, suggests alternatives that do not involve privatization or the sweeping reorganization of MARTA?s management structure.

Local 732 President Curtis Howard believes senior management should do a better job of managing resources. ?Appropriate the money correctly, and make sure the fares are being collected,? Howard said. ?I would say they are top heavy, and have too many managers making high salaries.?

Ashley Robbins of Georgians for Better Transit, said that it?s not fair for MARTA to receive little state support, at a time the state is funding GRTA?s Xpress buses in order to serve people who ride by choice, not because they are dependent on public transit. ?We?ve got to find some source of funding, and beating up on the union is not going to fix everything,? Robbins said. ?Privatization won?t fix everything. It won?t bring cost-saving in to make MARTA the kind of system a city like Atlanta deserves.??Read more.

The coalition will be ratcheting up its campaign to fight the legislation, which is now being considered in the state senate.


ATU pressure leads to Pensacola City Council backing plan to use gas tax for transit

Thanks to a campaign spearheaded by ATU Local?1395?? Pensacola, the City Council voted 8-1 to support a proposal to dedicate all the proceeds of a newly passed 4-cent gas tax toward the Escambia County Area Transit system.

The vote comes after Mayor Ashton Hayward had proposed using a portion of the gas tax revenue to sweeten the pot on an incentive package for a Singapore aerospace company that is considering moving its operations to the Pensacola International Airport.

At the vote the Council heard from a dozen ECAT employees and riders who were strongly opposed to the possibility that some of the money would go to the airport project. Local 1395 President Mike Lowery has collected a petition with more than 1,500 signatures against the idea.?Read more.


Ottawa transit workers call for more flexibility for snow days

In the cleanup of a recent major snowstorm, OC Transpo workers, members of ATU Local?279?- Ottawa, called for increased flexibility in scheduling to prevent delays during future snowstorms.

More than 200 OC Transpo buses got stuck or were delayed during a recent storm that also caused about 20 collisions involving city buses. Many riders were delayed for more than an hour.

Local 279 President Craig Watson suggested limiting articulated buses during storms because they have problems on slippery hills and when they try to make sharp turns.

“On these days, it might be better to pull back some of the service so we don’t jam up the city,” said Wilson, who plans to sit down with the OC Transpo management to come up with a plan to deal with this problem.?Read more.

 

Tacoma transit cuts jeopardize jobs for people with disabilities

Getting to a job can be tough and even harder when you have a disability – and nearly impossible without public transit. The 28 percent cut in service announced by Pierce Transit?this month will be a serious blow to many people with disabilities trying to find work or to hold on to their job.

This is the second round of cuts since 2011 and more people are expected to lose their jobs. Fifty-five percent of Pierce Transit’s riders come from households with annual incomes below $20,000 and 45 percent of riders have no cars.

“Every aspect of the lives of individuals with disabilities will be affected: work, doctors’ appointments, church,” said BethAnn Garteiz, director of the Parents Coalition for People with Disabilities. “People won’t be able to advocate for themselves at meetings like the Transit meeting (in which the reductions were announced) because they won’t have the transportation.”

Russ Fogle, who uses a wheelchair predicts thousands with and without disabilities may lose their job including him, “I’ll lose my job. I provide childcare for my son and daughter in law. My son, who works swing shift, will lose his job. And my daughter in law? I don’t know what she’ll do.”?Read more.

 


 

Another tour bus operator shutdown for safety violations

In no surprise to the ATU, the Boston-based Chinatown bus company Fung Wah has been shutdown for serious safety violations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) announced the move after Massachusetts officials found serious problems on buses operated by the Fung Wah discount bus service.

The company has a long history of safety problems including a $31,000 fine in 2006 for safety violations after a rollover accident in Massachusetts injured dozens of passengers. In 2005, flames engulfed a Fung Wah bus moments after the passengers were evacuated in Connecticut.

According to the FMSCA, Fung Wah is in the bottom 3 percent nationwide for driver fitness, which evaluates training and experience. Four of their seven driver violations since 2011 came because the drivers didn’t speak English. The company also rated poorly in the unsafe driving category, with nine speeding violations since September 2011.?Read more.

The ATU has strongly advocated that any real crackdown on unsafe tour bus companies will not significantly reduce interstate bus accidents until federal law is amended to require these companies to pay their bus operators overtime.

?How many more people need to die in bus crashes before Congress and the agencies deal with the real problem behind these accidents ? driver fatigue,? says ATU International President Larry Hanley.Read more.


 

New Jersey ATU endorses re-election of Jersey City Mayor

Calling Mayor Healy a tireless fighter who works block-by-block for Jersey City?s working families, the ATU has endorsed the Mayor for re-election.

?Having been in office during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Mayor Healy set the right course for Jersey City to dig out of this recession and has an aggressive plan for our future,? said Ray Greaves, ATU New Jersey State Council Chair.

?Mayor Healy always does what?s best for Jersey City and all our working families,? said Earl Hardy,?President of Local 821 ? Jersey City.??He fights for the things we care about and takes peoples? concerns to heart.??Read more.


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Get the lastest ATU news and action alerts about transit, politics and much more and also a chance to win an ATU jacket like Local?268?- Cleveland member Otis Haynes, pictured on the right with Local 268 President William Nix. More winners will be announced soon.

It’s easy to sign up at?atu.org?for a chance to win. To be eligible for the drawings, simply type your e-mail, local union number, and zip or postal code in the boxes on the opening page and click ?Go.?? Please pass this along to your fellow members and friends. Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win in this contest.

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