?Isn?t there something perverse about slashing transit services when people lose jobs and cars?? That?s the question posed by International President Larry Hanley who led the ATU members who participated in the National Nurses United rally in front of the White House last Saturday, in support of the Inclusive Prosperity Act ? H.R. 1579 ? that has been re-introduced in the U.S. Congress by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-MN.
The so-called ?Robin Hood tax,? would ?tax transactions on Wall Street to provide revenue that?s needed to provide services for everybody else.? says Hanley. ?The tax is reasonable, it?s cheap, it?s fair ? but it will provide $350 billion in income to our government at a time it really needs it.
?People are suffering all over this country,? continues Hanley, ?and this is an opportunity for [Congress] to tax people who are very wealthy, and painlessly provide the services we really need.?
With reports of the Boston bombings still ringing in their ears, the Board of San Francisco?s BART announced they would initiate a review of the agency?s safety procedures at their next meeting.
Local 1555-Oakland CA, whose members operate BART, was somewhat chagrined that the board did not inform them about the review before it was publicized. ?We feel this is just another way for management to politicize an issue that could be handled in a much more direct manner,? says Local President Antonette Bryant.
Nevertheless, the review comes none too soon for members who have complained about verbal and physical abuse for a long time. The local is currently in contract talks with BART, and Bryant says worker safety will be part of the negotiations.
W. Palm Beach local calls for transit chief’s resignation
Local President Dwight Mattingly, 1577-West Palm Beach, FL took a petition with 1,000 signatures to their county administrator asking for the resignation of Palm Tran Executive Director Chuck Cohen. The petition states a series of ongoing problems with Cohen including refusing to protect bus operators and to work with the local on safety and health issues.
Dozens of Palm Trans Connection customers and workers have filed complaints and held protests against poor service since Metro Mobility Management Group took over last year, citing late service, excessively long trips, and drivers who didn?t show. MMMG has until July 15 to load buses with GPS systems so they?ll know where drivers are and what time they arrive.
Transit workers, advocates call for more state funding in WI, PA
With ridership reaching new highs and cash-strapped transit systems cutting service and raising fares, transit workers are joining with advocates to urge state legislators to invest in public transportation.
In Milwaukee, ATU Local 998 has called for transit to be restored to the pre-2011 funding levels after it was cut 10 percent last year. Anti-union Governor Walker?s latest two-year budget proposal would freeze dollars for transit. ?You can create all the jobs you want but if people can?t get to them, how will this help our economy?? says 998 President Al Simonis.
ATU Local 85 ? Pittsburgh members joined 40 labor, business, and religious groups at a rally to urge Governor Corbett and state lawmakers to invest in ?stable, long-term state funding for transportation” with an emphasis on mass transit to help the city?s financially-troubled transit system.
Discount paratransit service is proving just as bad for employees of public agencies as it is for those of private contractors. TARPS, which provides paratransit service for TARTA (Toledo?s urban transit system), has come under fire from Local 697-Toledo, OH, which represents the workers at both services.
TARPs ?is TARTA?s dirty little secret,? says Cynthia Betts, financial secretary/business agent of the local, who told the board that its paratransit drivers are paid less even though they work harder than their TARTA counterparts. ?Many employees have to rely on public assistance? because their wages are so low, she says.
Betts said, discipline at TARPS is ?capricious and severe,? seniority is ignored, bathroom breaks are frequently denied, and the union is barred from communicating with its members at the garage, as is allowed at TARTA.
It?s unlikely that the TARTA board will do anything about the workers? grievances. The local is appealing a county court dismissal of its lawsuit.
Baltimore member saves with Union Plus energy savings
Wayne Bowers, 1300-Baltimore, MD, and his wife, Sheila, were fed up with paying high heating bills every winter, so they decided to fix a vexing draft by replacing their front door and the side panels of their house.
But the cost was looking prohibitive until they found UnionPlus.org and discovered the Union Plus Energy Saving Rebate program. Not only did the Bowers receive a $500 rebate, they also enjoyed an energy-related tax cut and yearly savings of $360 on their utilities.
To learn more about Union Plus programs visit UnionPlus.org. Union members can receive Union Plus savings alerts on their mobile phones by texting ?UNION? to 22555.
Transit agency neglect of the safety and dignity of their employees is a nationwide problem. Local President Bruce Hansen, 757-Portland, OR, wrote a letter asking TriMet to quickly resolve the problems surrounding a portable toilet the agency provides as a rest area for its employees.
The letter comes in the wake of an incident in which a TriMet driver was stabbed while exiting the toilet, Saturday night, in Portland. The local has voiced many concerns about the safety of members using the facility that has been moved in response to complaints. The Oregonian called on TriMet to fix this problem saying in an editorial ?more than anything, though, it’s shameful. It’s beneath human dignity.?
?We?re not asking them to move the toilets again,? Hansen says. ?We want the whole layover moved to another location. The current situation is unacceptable.?