Last call to register for 2013 ATU Convention Training Academy

With the 2013 ATU Convention in San Diego only 30 days away, we would like to remind all delegates to register for the Convention Training Academy as soon as possible.

These sessions are the latest in ATU?s ongoing efforts to broaden our outreach and access to relevant training and education programs in ways that are economical, efficient and effective. The trainings will be offered before and during the Convention. The Convention schedule has been carefully designed to afford everyone time to attend and still accomplish the important business that brings us together.

Many requests are coming in from non-delegates to take part in this exciting training program. We are happy to include non-delegates in this program and encourage all ATU members to register. However, since we have limited space and resources, we will not know how many opening we have until all delegates have registered for the training academy and selected their preferred trainings.

All delegates and non-delegates should please register for the training sessions ASAP and no later than August 1st. Information about how to register can be found?here.?Once all registrations are in we will confirm availability.

?Toronto whistleblower hotline unfairly targets workers

The Toronto Transit Commission?s (TTC) new whistleblower program encourages an unfounded negative perception of transit workers among riders.

?My concern with this new initiative is that it publicly promotes the idea that there is widespread fraud and theft on the part of TTC employees that has yet to be discovered,? says Local?113?President Bob Kinnear. ?I only wish that the same attention was paid to those many, many TTC workers who go above and beyond the call of duty to serve the public with a shamefully-underfunded public transit system,?

Dubbed ?Integrity? by TTC, the one-year pilot program, which will be run by a private consultant, allows workers or contractors to anonymously report employees they believe are acting illegally or unethically .The local believes the program won?t yield any real information and many employees will just use it as a repository for petty complaints.?Read more.

?DC transit workers get pay raise

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) workers soundly ratified a four-year contract that will provide

DC Transit workersLocal?689?members a pay raise and other improvements.

This is the second time in the past few years that WMATA employees will receive a pay raise. The local had been negotiating for months after the last contract expired in June 2012.

?This is a good contract for our members and provides a strong future for our union,? said 689 President Jackie Jeter. ?We look forward to continuing to provide safe, reliable service to all the transit riders in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.??Read more.

?US congress dysfunctionalWhy the U.S. Congress is dysfunctional

Despite the 113th?Congress being the most diverse in American history, it is the most polarizing in well over a century. Support for the President?s position on roll call votes by Members of the opposition party has basically disappeared.

Check out this?Brookyn Institute video?and their?Vital Statistics on Congress website?for more interesting and frankly disturbing facts about Congress.

?Survey: Voters in major cities support public transit

A large majority of voters in four major U.S. cities believe that it is important to invest in public transportation, according to a survey by Global Strategy Group.

Eighty-five percent or more of respondents in Chicago, Boston, Nashville and Pittsburgh agreed that funding for public transportation is critical in order to ensure that that communities grow and thrive.

Voters also overwhelmingly supported bringing bus rapid transit (BRT) to their cities.?More than six in 10 said they would take BRT instead of driving or taking other forms of public transit if it made their commute faster. A majority also would be willing to pay an additional 10 cents a day for better and more reliable public transit options that reduce their commute time.?Read more.

?Pierce Transit cancels service cuts

After an unexpected increase in sales tax revenue, Pierce Transit in Tacoma, WA, intends to cancel a proposed 28-percent cut in service

Pierce Transit hours and the layoff of 84 workers that had been planned for this fall.

Don McKnight, president of ATU Local?758?- Tacoma, said avoiding more cuts ?benefits our passengers tremendously because it was going to extend the hardship on them.?

Last November voters rejected a sales tax increase of three-tenths of 1 percent to fund transit last for the second time in less than two years. The Pierce Transit?s board voted in June to slash annual service hours for buses and shuttles starting at the end of the summer. That plan would have reduced service on nearly every route. As a result workers and riders had launched a campaign to convince the Pierce Transit Board not to cut service, saying riders who depend on the service wouldn?t be able to get to work, doctors? appointments, the grocery store and church.

With the reversal, Pierce Transit may now need to hire more drivers.?Read more.

?How the BART strike represents the plight of organized labor

When BART workers, members of ATU Local?1555?- Oakland, CA, went on strike for five days in early July because they hadn?t gotten a raise in four years it set off a wave of anti-labor vitriol on the Internet.

With economic inequality in the U.S. at its worst in more than 80 years despite stock markets rebounding and companies making record profits again, it doesn?t make sense that there is so much hate for working people and little support for organized labor.

Some experts point to the divide between public and private sector workers, the weakening of labor unions, the decline of social solidarity, the rise of selfishness as ideology, and that few people with political power are standing up for workers.

Antonette Bryant, president of ATU Local 1555, which represents BART train operators and station agents may have put it best.??A lot of people don?t understand the union movement,? says Bryant. ?We?re fighting for everybody. We are taxpayers ourselves. We?re not some elitist group. We?ve banded together for a common goal?better wages.

?People have gotten so entrenched in the me-me-me, it?s gotten lost,? Bryant continued. She also laments the loss of close-knit communities like the one she grew up in during the ?60s, and feels this had led to less political empathy for others. ?Read more.

Those in major cities see the value of public transit, survey says

A large majority of voters in four major U.S. cities believe that it is important to invest in public transportation, according to a survey funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and conducted by Global Strategy Group.

The survey conducted public opinion surveys in Chicago, Boston, Nashville and Pittsburgh. In each city, 85 percent or more of respondents agreed that it was important to invest in public transportation in order to ensure that communities grow and thrive.

The survey echoes the sentiments of a 2011 survey done by the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), in which 88 percent of respondents said wanted the Des Moines region to invest more in public transit. About half of the 1,266 people who took the DART survey answered that question, a spokesperson said.

In the Rockefeller survey, a majority of people in each of the four cities supported bringing bus rapid transit (BRT) to the cities. BRT is designed to function like a train system using buses, with more frequent service than a normal route.

More than six in 10 voters in each of the four cities surveyed said they would take BRT instead of driving or taking other forms of public transit if it made their commute faster, and a majority said they would pay an additional 10 cents a day for better and more reliable public transit options that reduce their commute time.

DART has proposed a BRT line to loop between downtown and University Avenue in Des Moines. The bus system last year was unable to secure a proposed $2 million grant for the line that would likely have leveraged a $20 million grant through the Federal Transportation Administration.

The Value of Public Transit

Why bus drivers need better protection

Otawa busesAs if we needed more reasons why transit workers need more protection on the job, four recent incidents remind us once again.

Portland stabbing
In Portland, OR, a TriMet bus driver was stabbed three times when he was attacked by a stranger leaving a break facility. The third attack since October has prompted the transit agency to place security guards at restroom stops used by Local 757-Portland, OR, operators in parts of Southeast Portland. However, the local says more security is needed. Read more.

Winnipeg video
Meanwhile in Winnipeg, two intoxicated passengers on a Winnipeg bus caused problems for the driver. As this video shows, the two were harassing passengers until the driver and other passengers finally got them to leave avoiding a potential serious situation. This is one of many incidents that has prompted a Winnipeg Councilor to propose that police cadets ? not transit special constables ? patrol city buses to help the growing problem of assaults.

However, ATU Local 1505?Winnipeg, says this doesn?t go far enough. ?We need real police ? transit special constables – to patrol these buses that can actually arrest people who attack drivers, refuse to pay fares or break other laws,? said Local President James Girden. ?The riders and the drivers need to know that when they call for assistance that it will be available on short notice and the actions will be swift and effective.?

Two attacks in Kelowna, BC
Two violent assaults on Kelowna bus drivers, members of Local 1722, occurred within the space of two weeks.

In the first incident, a woman got onto the bus and once all the other passengers had departed the woman casually approached the driver and allegedly stabbed him with a syringe without provocation. The 31-year-old woman fled but was later arrested near downtown Kelowna.

In the second assault, a passenger punched a driver repeatedly in the head after the driver refused to allow him to debark before they arrived at the next bus stop. The driver managed to remove the assailant from the bus ? but not before suffering a broken jaw. The suspect was chased down by a police dog and arrested.

Edmonton’s Smart Bus system raises red flags

Edmonton Transit?s new Smart Bus system will give the city the ability to look live onto its buses, but ATU Local 569 – Edmonton is worried about what city officials will actually be looking for. The system provides GPS tracking of buses, and live video from inside and in front of the vehicles. Local President Stu Litwinowich said the safety benefits are great for everyone not just drivers, but his concern is the system will be used for more than safety. ?They are going to quickly turn this into another means of discipline for drivers.??read more

Another ATU hero in Toledo

A Local 697-Toledo paratransit driver was on her route carrying two passengers and two trainees when she saw a toddler shivering on the sidewalk alone and barefoot. As a former stay-at-home mother who raised four boys before becoming a driver two and half years ago, Ann Gleason stopped immediately, called police and stayed with the boy until the police arrived.
?I had tears in my eyes because I?m a mother,? Ms. Gleason said. ?It was just heartbreaking to see him on the side of the street. I was waiting for someone to come running out of the door looking for him, but nobody did.? The boy was returned by police to his parents at a nearby apartment complex. Read more.

Gleason is the second hero to hail from Local 697. Geraldine Mitchell stopped to save a woman from committing suicide in March. The ATU salutes Ms. Gleason for her actions. If you know similar stories about fellow ATU members please fill the on line form?to nominate her/him.

Help needed for victims of Canadian floods

Flood in torontoFrom Hurricane Sandy to the Oklahoma floods, ATU members have time and time again stepped up to help affected ATU members by donating the ATU Disaster Relief Fund.

Unfortunately the recent severe floods in Calgary and the Toronto area left some of our Canadian members in need. Homes and property of our ATU brothers and sisters and their families in the area were destroyed and damaged by these devastating floods. We are still hearing reports as the clean up continues.

When a crisis hits, ATU members do what they do every day on the job, in their communities, and in their places of worship. They just help out. You can help your brothers and sisters who have been hurt by this year?s floods by contributing to the ATU disaster relief fund.

Donations can be made on line, or by mailing a check to: Amalgamated Transit Union?Disaster Relief Fund,?5025 Wisconsin, Ave., N.W.?Washington, DC 20016,? Attn: Lawrence J. Hanley

U.S. and Canada Contributors: Your contributions are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

BART workers back at the table, but same old story

BART workers resumed negotiating to try and reach a deal before the August 4 deadline, but Local 1555 says it has been the same old story with management continuing to offer only minimal wage increases and hgher healthcare contributions for employees.

?I believe that it?s unfortunate that the district continues to negotiate with us unfairly. It?s very disappointing,? said Local President Antonette Bryant.?Read more.

Meanwhile BART?s $400,000 union-busting gun for hire, Tom Hock, is getting ready for his week-long vacation, July 22-29, when bargaining will stop. Guess he needs a break rather than working to get a fair and just deal for workers that ensures the people of the Bay Area can continue to get to work, the doctor and other daily tasks.

AC Transit talks continue

Also Local 192-Oakland, CA, and AC Transit are also locked in difficult negotiations over a new bargaining agreement to replace a contract that expired June 30.

The local continues to negotiate saying, ?We are at the table and bargaining, but our members will not support going backwards.? It has agreed to work as long as negotiations continue, and says it will give the public 24 hours notice before striking.

New transit coalition unites against Washington, DC privatization

With the safety, security, and reliability of Washington DC?s bus and Metro service at-risk as DC government officialsYour ride is at risk consider outsourcing operations to a private company, a new coalition, DC for Better Transit, was launched by ATU Local 689, riders and transit advocates.

The coalition is fighting against proposals that would allow a foreign company to run bus lines currently operated by Metrobus. This company would operate the expansion of the Circulator bus and a proposed streetcar. Advocates will be hitting buses stops and Metro stations leafleting riders to educate them about the threats of privatization. Read more.

ATU Bangor Community Connector bus drivers win solidarity award

Some of ATU?s newest members, bus drivers working for the Bangor Community Connector, were awarded the Voice of Solidarity Award by the Eastern Maine Labor Council for their ?valuable contributions in the area of organizing and creating solidarity locally.?

The drivers worked with ATU to launch an organizing campaign to join the union after realizing their concerns were falling on deaf ears. After a comprehensive campaign to educate drivers about ATU, they overwhelmingly voted to become members of Local 714-Portland, OR. In announcing the award, the Eastern Maine Labor Council said ?through their courage and persistence the drivers now have a more powerful voice to improve their workplace and strengthen the vital public service they provide.?

Canadians celebrating Nelson Mandela Day

Nelson MandelaTORONTO — Canadians are set to honour Nelson Mandela International Day as the ex-South African president’s daughter says he has made “dramatic progress” in his health.

The UN-recognized celebration of Mandela’s life coincides with his 95th birthday and comes as Zindzi Mandela says her father is gaining “energy and strength” and may be going home “any time soon.”

South African High Commissioner to Canada Membathisis Mdladlana says he is “over the moon” and “so thrilled.”

A birthday card made by learners from the Melpark Primary School in Johannesburg adorns a wall as learners celebrate former president Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday during their school assembly Thursday, July 18, 2013. (AP / Denis Farrell)

Members of the Toronto Children’s Chorus choral group from Toronto, Canada, who are on a tour taking part in the Ihlombe South African Choral Festival, hug each other as they observe some of the get-well messages and flowers, after singing outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa Saturday, July 13, 2013. (AP / Ben Curtis)

“We’ve been thinking that Mandela won’t reach 95 and here we are. God is good, God is great.”

Mandela has been in the hospital since June 8 and recent court documents filed by his family stated he was on life support and near death.

Mandela has made three visits to Canada, and during the latest in 2001 he received honorary citizenship.

His first Canadian visit was to Toronto, Montreal and Iqaluit in 1990 mere months after being released from a South African prison where he had been jailed 27 years for his fight against apartheid.

Toronto’s Honouring Mandela Committee is hosting a community celebration Thursday at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School to honour the Nobel Prize winner. Mandela himself attended a ceremony there in 2001, when the school was named in his honour.

“Nelson Mandela is recognized as a man who has inspired the students of Canada, the young people of Canada,” said Lloyd McKell, vice-chairman of the committee.

“He’s an honorary citizen of Canada and we feel that it’s really important for us to pay tribute to this man on the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day.”

The celebration runs from 1 to 6 p.m. and will feature live music as well as family activities.

A 60-second livestream applause ceremony orchestrated from South Africa will be conducted at 1:45 p.m. after the singing of the country’s national anthem and will coincide with similar rounds of applause in cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Madrid, McKell said.

The family will certainly be aware of the celebration in Toronto, he said. “This will be very positive for them knowing that our country Canada is joining countries around the world in paying tribute to the former president of their country.”

The committee will also be joining the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s calls for people to devote at least 67 minutes to volunteering “in whatever small way they can” in their communities or schools to reflect the 67 years that Mandela “has spent in active pursuit of democracy in his country,” McKell said.

Mdladlana, who will be speaking at the Toronto event, says staff from the embassy in Ottawa will be donating their time to an addiction and rehabilitation centre in Ottawa.

Meanwhile, the expatriate group South African Rainbow Nation Association is doing their 67 minutes of service at the Ottawa Mission making sandwiches, he said.

“We’ve got about 20 coming along to the mission tomorrow,” said group spokesman Ken Winchiu.

Reginold Ncamane, consul political of the South African High Commission in Toronto, said the commission there will be volunteering time to charity.

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Elizabeth May said in a statement that Mandela’s legacy of serving humanity “will forever inspire us.”

“This year’s Mandela Day will take on a special meaning as the world sends best wishes and prayers for his recovery and release from hospital,” May wrote.

“Now more than ever, we appreciate his immeasurable contribution to the world.”

A planned tribute at Ontario’s legislature has been rescheduled for Aug. 4 because of expected rain.

Read more:?


Nelson Mandela BiographyRolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei, on July 18, 1918, to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

His father died when he was a child and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni. Hearing the elder?s stories of his ancestor?s valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom to give all school children ?Christian? names.

He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.

Nelson Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest. He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943.

On his return to the Great Place at Mkhekezweni the King was furious and said if he didn?t return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin Justice. They ran away to Johannesburg instead arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine security officer and after meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, who introduced him to Lazar Sidelsky. He then did his articles through the firm of attorneys Witkin Eidelman and Sidelsky.

Meanwhile he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1948 without graduating. He only started studying again through the University of London and also did not complete that degree.

In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated?in absentia?at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Nelson Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped formed the ANC Youth League.

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu?s cousin Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons Madiba Thembekile ?Thembi? and Makgatho and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. They effectively separated in 1955 and divorced in 1958.

Nelson Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its work the ANC adopted in 1949 a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action.

In 1952 he was chosen at the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his Deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months hard labour suspended for two years.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Nelson Mandela to practice law and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa?s first black law firm,?Mandela and Tambo.

At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only able to secretly watch as the Freedom Charter was adopted at Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

Nelson Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop of 156 activists on 5 December 1955, which led to the 1956 Treason Trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock in the marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mr. Mandela were acquitted on 29 March 1961.

On 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest at Sharpeville against the pass laws. This led to the country?s first state of emergency on 31 March and the banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress on 8 April. Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among the thousands detained during the state of emergency.

During the trial on 14 June 1958 Nelson Mandela married a social worker Winnie Madikizela. They had two daughters Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Days before the end of the Treason Trial Nelson Mandela travelled to Pietermaritzburg to speak at the All-in Africa Conference, which resolved he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd requesting a non-racial national convention, and to warn that should he not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. As soon as he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason Trial Nelson Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike for 29, 30 and 31 March. In the face of a massive mobilization of state security the strike was called off early. In June 1961 he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation).

On 11 January 1962 using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Nelson Mandela left South Africa secretly. He travelled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock outside Howick on 5 August while returning from KwaZulu-Natal where he briefed ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli about his trip.

He was charged with leaving the country illegally and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment which he began serving in Pretoria Local Prison. On 27 May 1963 he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month police raided a secret hide-out in Rivonia used by ANC and Communist Party activists and several of his comrades were arrested.

In October 1963 Nelson Mandela joined nine others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial.? Facing the death penalty his words to the court at the end of his famous ?Speech from the Dock? on 20 April 1964 became immortalized:

?I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.?

On 11 June 1964 Nelson Mandela and seven other accused Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni were convicted and the next day were sentenced to life imprisonment. Denis Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white while the others went to Robben Island.

Nelson Mandela?s mother died in 1968 and his eldest son Thembi in 1969. He was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 31 March 1982 Nelson Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October. When he returned to the prison in November 1985 after prostate surgery Nelson Mandela was held alone. Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee had visited him in hospital. Later Nelson Mandela initiated talks about an ultimate meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC.

In 1988 he was treated for Tuberculosis and was transferred on 7 December 1988 to a house at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl. He was released from its gates on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after the unbanning of the ANC and the PAC and nearly four months after the release of the remaining Rivonia comrades. Throughout his imprisonment he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release.

Nelson Mandela immersed himself into official talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 was elected ANC President to replace his ailing friend Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on 27 April 1994 he voted for the first time in his life.

On 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated South Africa?s first democratically elected President. On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Gra?a Machel, his third wife.

True to his promise Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children?s Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela-Rhodes Foundation.

In April 2007 his grandson Mandla Mandela became head of the Mvezo Traditional Council at a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life has been an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived, to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.

Investigation finds city must do more to stop violence against bus drivers

Osborne 16OTTAWA ? A federal labour investigation has found that OC Transpo has not done enough to protect bus drivers from workplace violence, but the decision offers little direction about how to solve the problem.

Transpo failed to implement a workplace violence prevention program outlining the employer?s obligations to protect its employees, according to the much-anticipated decision issued on Thursday by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

The investigation was triggered last month when a bus driver refused to return to work because of an assault by a passenger. The decision from the HRSDC health and safety inspector supports the driver, but there are no specific conditions outlining how the employer can comply with the Canada Labour Code.

?Given the vague and ambiguous nature of the findings,? the city will appeal the decision, wrote city solicitor Rick O?Connor in a note to councillors late Friday afternoon.

The head of the city?s largest transit union agrees the ruling lacks any specific direction.

?It doesn?t really say anything, it just says come back with some ideas on what you?re going to do,? said Craig Watson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279. ?I would have preferred that he give an actual directive as to what needs to be done to correct the problem. Is it additional training, shields for the drivers, or is it something else??

OC Transpo has until Aug. 31 to come up with a workplace violence prevention program, which outlines the employer?s obligation to dedicate resources to address workplace violence and assist employees who have been exposed to workplace violence, according to the decision.

The city and OC Transpo ?remain committed to continuing their ongoing work with the ATU Local 279? to prevent attacks on drivers, O?Connor wrote. He hopes the appeal process will better define the changes ordered by HRSDC.

The order indicates the city still must comply with the ruling unless overturned by an appeals officer.

HRSDC started its investigation after the driver notified OC Transpo on June 4 he was exercising his right to refuse work ?based on the perceived risk of imminent harm? from assaults by passengers, according to a memo sent to all employees.

The document explains how the driver had been punched in the face after asking for bus fare from a passenger who tried to board with an expired transfer.

They ?ended up outside of the bus and the operator then states that he was punched several more times,? Joanna Venditti, manager of employee management wrote in the memo. The driver is believed to have been attacked late at night on March 26. At the time, the Citizen reported a passenger sucker-punched a driver shortly after boarding at South Keys Shopping Centre. Police were investigating.

Watson says union members have been working with OC Transpo to reduce attacks by passengers. Part of that discussion includes the installation of video cameras on buses.

One of the most important steps to protect employees came last month when the federal Liberal party introduced legislation that aims to stiffen penalties for people convicted of assaulting bus drivers.

Philippines: Union leader shot dead – demand justice and an end to impunity now

Antonio DodongAntonio “Dodong” Petalcorin, the leader of the Network of Transport Organizations (NETO-APL-ITUC), was shot dead on 2 July 2013 right in front of his home. The gunman was caught on a CCTV camera calmly escaping in a motorcycle.

The union suspects Benjamin Go, the regional director of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Regional Office in Davao City was behind the killing.

Dodong was part of a group of transport leaders who exposed the alleged corrupt practices of the director and launched a campaign to oust him in October 2012. Dodong’s colleagues believe that his murder might be a part of a series of attempts to silence those unmasking corruption in the LTFRB office, which primarily victimizes small-time public transport drivers and operators. They gave as an example what happened to Emilio Rivera, former chair of an independent transport workers’ group, the Matina Aplaya Transport Cooperative (MATRANSCO), who was shot dead; as well as that of Carlos Cirilo, who narrowly survived when a grenade was lobbed inside his home but fortunately failed to explode. Dodong, Emilio and Cirilo have one thing in common ? they were co-complainants in a corruption case filed against Benjamin Go.

We are calling on the President of the Philippines to do his utmost to stop the murders of trade union and human rights activists, and to bring the killers to justice. We also call upon the President to address the issues that Dodong and his colleagues have raised and fought for – the alleged corruption at the LTFRB office in Davao City. This will ensure that they did not die in vain.

Toronto under severe thunderstorm watch

Toronto under storm watchEnvironment Canada warns potential storms could dump another 50 mm

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement on Wednesday warning of the “development of severe thunderstorms with large hail, damaging winds or heavy rainfall” after an earlier advisory was temporarily lifted.

“Wind gusts to 90 km/h are possible with these storms, as well as hail 2 cm in diameter and heavy downpours up to 50 mm in an hour,” the agency said

The weather advisory covers the Windsor area north to Sarnia and east through Parry Sound-Muskoka, Hamilton, Niagara and Toronto.

The new system was pushing in from the U.S. as Toronto continues to recover from severe flooding caused by record-setting rainfall.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said on Tuesday that the 126 mm of rain that fell on the city in just two hours a day earlier was “unprecedented.”

“Toronto has persevered; we have weathered the storm,” said Ford, stressing the need to reduce electricity consumption. “This is crucial that we all reduce our electricity for today to help relieve the strain on our hydro system. We’re hanging on by a thread right now.”

Flash flooding slams Toronto

At the storm’s peak, 300,000 residents across the Greater Toronto Area were left without power.Go transit

About 1,400 people were caught by the flooding aboard a northbound GO Transit train, and it took police and firefighters about seven hours to ferry everyone to dry ground aboard small inflatable boats.

?The operation ended at about 12:30 a.m. Authorities said five or six people were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Go Transit said the storm left portions of track “completely under water” on its Milton, Richmond Hill and Lakeshore West lines and suggested passengers seek alternative ways to travel Tuesday morning.

This morning, a commuter reported that shuttle buses were being used on the Lakeshore West GO Train line between Port Credit and Long Branch to move passengers past a flooded area.

Toronto police Const. Wendy Drummond said she’s never seen a flooding incident this severe in the city, but emergency crews were prepared to respond.

“Somebody looking at the scene may not understand everything that is happening, but rest assured that efforts, emergency response efforts, have been in the planning stages from the very onset,” she said.

Two people attempted to flee by jumping out the train and swimming to shore. Rescuers had to pluck one of them from the murky water.

Flood in torontoA woman gets gets back in her car in flood water on Lakeshore West during a storm in Toronto on Monday, July 8, 2013.

Happy Independence Day

The United States celebrates Independence Day Thursday.

July 4th marks the 237th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence from British rule.

U.S. citizens traditionally celebrate July 4th with parades, picnics, fireworks, ball games and concerts. Fourth of July decorations feature the colors of the American flag — red, white, and blue.

Washington holds an annual Fourth of July celebration on The National Mall. This year, singer/composer Barry Manilow is the headline entertainer. Fireworks will light up the capital’s sky after the concert.

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson in June 1776, the Declaration of Independence is America’s most cherished symbol of freedom. The Continental Congress formally approved the document weeks later on July 4.

Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

4th of July Liberty

Another day, more attacks on bus drivers

Continuing a disturbing trend in the US and Canada, two more vicious attacks on bus drivers occurred – this time in Chicago and Cleveland. Many transit agencies claim to be addressing this problem, but the assaults continue and unfortunately have become an every day part of the job as a transit worker.

In Chicago, a?CTA bus driver was seriously injured when a passenger at a bus terminal threw hot coffee in the driver?s face after accusing the driver of failing to pick him up earlier at a location that was not a bus stop. The driver is left with second-degree burns and the assailant has been charged with aggravated battery to a transit employee and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm.?Read more.

Meanwhile, a Cleveland bus?driver had finished up his route and was assaulted by a group of teens after telling them to stop smoking on RTA property.?The driver was taken to the hospital with a head injury after he hit his head on the cement after the teens attacked and pushed him. Local?268-Cleveland President William Nix says ?It has been open season on bus drivers,? and called on the transit agency to enact stronger laws and provide better protection for transit workers.?Read more.