Archive for October, 2013

BART workers reach deal to end strike after two track workers die

 

Bart workers IIIAfter the tragic death of two track workers because of BART senior officials? callous disregard for safety in the rush to get service running during the strike, a deal was reached to end the 4-day strike. The two were struck by a train that was being operated by an inexperienced manager who was training others.

?Before going on strike, ATU Local?1555?had compromised and extended negotiations for the good of the riding public in hopes of reaching a fair settlement.?But when BART management pulled out of a deal at the last minute, citing issues that had never been negotiated, the local had no choice.
ATU President Hanley said the agency is responsible for the two deaths and called for a criminal investigation into the deaths. “You don’t train in a situation where you can kill people. It’s like walking into a kindergarten class and handing out loaded pistols.”?Read more.

Media failure in BART strike news coverage

During the four months leading up to the strike it would have seemed logical for the mainstream Bay Area news outlets to cover the underlying issues of the labor dispute. BART?s revenues and expenditures should have been put under a microscope by the press.

Instead they fixated on the inconvenience to riders, commuter outrage, and bashing the unions. It was a missed opportunity for serious reporting on how BART?s hundreds of powerful construction and engineering contractors have ingratiated themselves with the BART board of directors and senior management to make millions in profits.?Read more.

Access to public transit influences health care choices

You might not realize for many people transportation plays a big role in accessing Care choiceshealth care and even could be the deciding factor on whether they visit their doctors or pick up their prescriptions.

The demographic relying most on public transit is people who do not have health insurance or are underinsured.?Many may not have paid time off from their employer, making the process of getting to a doctor much more challenging. Or even worse those who are not employed may not own a car and may have limited options for public transit to see a doctor or go to a pharmacy, making it less convenient and more time-consuming.

There are transit agencies getting involved in this issue including Capital Metro in Austin.?Read more.

Opinion: Privatizing BC Transit not right route

Privatizing BC Transit?s bus system could result in higher fares, less service and reduced ridership as evidenced in Nassau county writes Nadine Lemmon of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign in an opinion piece in the Press & Sun Bulletin.

After almost 40 years of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority running the Nassau Inter-County Express system (NICE), the county proposed to cut costs by outsourcing to a private company. The result only four months after was higher fares and reduced service.

It is no surprise then that NICE riders have become increasingly dissatisfied with their service. A NICE survey from this past summer found that rider satisfaction has dropped 32 points ? 61 percent to 29 percent ? from June 2012 to June 2013.

That is why ?Broome County Executive Debbie Preston?s proposal to privatize B.C. Transit should move slower than a car stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic,” writes Lemmon.?Read more.

Regina MP: Time to deal with assaults on transit workers

With another recent attack on a bus driver in Regina, Liberal Member of Parliament Ralph Goodale of Wascana is calling on the House of Commons to support his Bill C-533 to upgrade the Criminal Code when dealing with bus driver safety.

Almost 2,000 attacks happen to transit operators in communities large and small across Canada every year.?Goodale says the issue is non-partisan, has broad support in Parliament and hopes to get the bill passed before the holidays.?Read more.

Detroit drivers protest dangerous working conditions

 

Assaults on bus drivers have not only been a problem in Canada. A recent rash of Detroit driversvicious attacks on Detroit bus drivers led to a sick out day by members of ATU Local?26?to protest poor safety protections for drivers.

Four drivers have been hospitalized in the past week. Two were stabbed, one came under attack from three passengers and one had urine thrown on her.

“The deterioration of the bus system is not the drivers’ fault,” said Local 26 President Fred Westbrook. “We are going beyond the duty required of us. I want to let (passengers) know it’s not our fault.”?Read more.

Bay Area Labor Strife: BART workers on strike while Gov. issues cooling off period for AC Transit

 

Bay AreaAfter days of extending contract talks at the request of the federal mediator, BART workers have gone on strike again, citing the agency?s continued refusal to bargain in good faith.

Members of Local?1555?hit the picket lines in full force with fellow strikers from SEIU Local 1021 at 12:01 am after a marathon negotiation session that last more 30 hours resulted in no deal.?Read more.

Meanwhile just as he did with BART in August, Governor Jerry Brown issued a last minute cooling-off period to avert a strike by AC Transit workers.?The members of Local?192?had issued a 72-hour strike notice on Monday. The Governor appointed a three-person panel to investigate the contract dispute, which has seven days to make their report.?Read more.

Tea Party targets mass transit, Chamber & workers fight back

As if shutting down the federal government wasn?t enough, Tea Party activists in Indiana are trying to put the kibosh on?a proposal to boost central Indiana’s mass transit service. In typical Tea Party fashion, they oppose any tax increases to pay for expanding local bus service or a possible light rail line in the heavily populated region.

In response area business officials and groups are joining with workers to tell state lawmakers that expanding mass transit is critical to making the region more attractive to young professionals and help spur development.?Read more.

?Transit makes sense to business,? the local Chamber of?Commerce president recently wrote in an op-ed. ?Just the medical facilities and hotels alone in our community employ thousands of workers, many of whom simply can’t get to their jobs, or are forced to rely on undependable rides to work. That’s why businesses in our community are increasingly investigating transit opportunities for their employees and recognize the value to their success of public transit.??Read more.

Vancouver Blue Bus workers ratify new contractVancouver bus

Vancouver Blue Bus riders can breathe a sigh of relief as workers overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new agreement with the agency.

Members of ATU local?134?had rejected the district’s final contract offer in late September, and workers overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike.

However, union negotiators and the agency continued intense bargaining and finally made a deal, which included pay raises and other improvements.

“Our members are pleased to reach a new collective agreement with West Vancouver and thank all involved for their assistance, including the Labour Relations Board,” said 134 President Geoff Devlin.Read more.

Video: ATU out in force at NYC Robin Hood Tax rally?

ATU members joined more than a 1,000 New Yorkers in a march on a recent United Nation?s General Assembly meeting and the MTA to call for a ?Robin Hood? financial transaction tax on banks and financial institutions to the fund the restoration and expansion of vital public services.

ATU Local?1179?President John Lyons called on protestors to call out MTA officials. ?Thank you for cutting our service, thank you for refusing to negotiate a contract with our employees,? said Lyons. ?The ATU supports the Robin Hood Tax. The tax can provide better transportation for the city of New York.?Watch here.

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker takes bus to work

philadelphia eaglesPhiladelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin is known to take the direct route to opposing quarterbacks as the team?s sack leader this year.

While he owns an electric car when it comes to getting to practice and around the city he opts for the environmentally friendly public bus. He even tweeted thanking transit workers for the ride to work.

The son of a city planner, Barwin has always enjoyed immersing himself in cities by taking public transportation. He might be an ATU member in the making.?Read more.

In Memoriam: Retired International Vice President Angus MacFarlane

Angus MacFarlane, retired member of the ATU General Executive Board andVice president former shop steward, executive board member and business agent of Local?113-Toronto, ON, has passed away.

MacFarlane began his career as an operator at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in 1959.??He became a shop steward for Local 113 in 1964 and was elected as an executive board member in 1967.??In 1977, Angus was elected Business Agent of the local.?He went on to serve ATU as an International Representative in 1983 and later that year became an International Vice President.?Read more.

Another ATU jacket winner, stay connected to win!

?The leaves are falling and winter is approaching, so we are doing more drawings for ATU jackets.

Our latest winner is Local?85?- Pittsburgh member David Gerber.?Stay connected and you too could win an ATU Jacket.

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 ATU website opening page and click ?Go.?? Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win.

Another fatal bus crash puts safety back in the spotlight

 

Fatal crashLast week it was a tragic church bus accident in Tennessee that took eight lives, this week it?s a fatal Greyhound bus crash in Central Pennsylvania that killed one and injured more than 40. How many more must die before Congress acts on safe labor standards for bus drivers?

The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that 36 percent of motorcoach crash fatalities over the past decade have been due to driver fatigue. It is the number one cause of fatal accidents, far above road conditions (2 percent) or inattention (6 percent).

?Bus companies are making huge profits by pushing people beyond human capabilities,? said ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?Often drivers are asked to keep up a tough schedule and work numerous jobs to stay afloat.?

That is most likely the case in this latest fatal accident, where the Greyhound bus smashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer, destroying the front of the bus.? “Until overtime regulations are enacted and enforced we will continue to see carnage on the highways,” said Hanley.??Read more.

Binghamton workers, riders enlist City to fight privization of BC Transit

As Broome County considers privatizing its transit system, workers and riders have enlisted City Council members to fight back against the County?s efforts.

ATU Local?1145?has been engaged in a campaign with riders and transit advocates to educate the public that outsourcing BC Transit could lead to service cuts, increased fares and safety issues.

While the City officials don?t make the decision on the issue, Binghamton City Council passed a resolution this week, urging the County to remain as the owner and operator of the transit system.

“They’re our residents, they’re our constituents and we have the right and obligation to voice their opinion, that’s what we did,” said one Binghamton Council member.?Read more.

BART workers extend talks, issue strike noticeBart workers II

BART trains were running this morning after workers decided to continue negotiations as the 60-day cooling off period ordered by Governor Jerry Brown expired at midnight on Thursday.

However, ATU Local?1555?issued a 72-hour strike notice for Monday morning if no deal is reached over the weekend after BART management decided to pull their latest offer from the table.

?We were completely taken aback when BART Management backed up and withdrew their offer, claiming to have been confused the day before,” said ATU Local 1555 and SEIU Local 1021 in a joint statement.?”There was no confusion. Instead, BART?s hired gun, Thomas Hock, at the direction of General Manager Grace Crunican, lied to the unions, shattering the fragile framework of an agreement.?

?The union has done everything possible to avoid a strike at this point?and will continue to engage in the bargaining process in an effort to reach an agreement tomorrow.??Read more.

Cornwall transit workers reach tentative agreement

Good news out of Cornwall, Ontario, as Local?946?has reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement ?in principle? with the city.

The 35 drivers were seeking compensation for their working conditions, which doesn?t allow them to take the usual, 15-minute break or 30-minute lunch that are allotted to other municipal workers. The contract also included improvements for workers? wages.

The members are set to vote on the contract within the next week.?Read more.


Pittsburg busBad idea: Pittsburgh considers a bus-free downtown

ATU Local?85?and Pittsburghers for Public Transit have raised questions about a proposal to remove buses from the center of Downtown Pittsburgh, saying it puts the interests of a few businesses ahead of “the greater good of the entire community.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the likely next mayor of Pittsburgh, City Councilman Bill Peduto, are backing a proposal to create a bus-free zone in the center of the city?s downtown. Bus routes would be moved out toward the fringes of Downtown.

Local 85 President Steve Palonis, said drivers must be consulted about any changes. “We’ve seen too many past attempts to validate such proposals with ‘outside consultants’ in the name of ‘efficiency,’ without consulting the highly trained drivers who know the operation of the system the best,” he said.Read more.

SEAT transit workers’ campaign saves bus service

New London, CT riders can be assured their buses will be running thanks to the members of ATU Local1209.

With the Southeast Area Transit District (SEAT) facing a budget shortfall and possible service cuts, workers engaged in a campaign asking riders to “join the fight to save SEAT service” and contact the state Department of Transportation, which took over managing the district last March, to fund SEAT.

The campaign was successful, and the state DOT expects that all transit districts will receive a 3.5 percent funding increase this fiscal year, which should cover most of SEAT’s expected budget gap.?Read more.

And the latest ATU jacket winner is…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bus operator Kulbir Samra, a member of Local?615?in Saskatoon, SK.

Stay connected and you too could win an ATU Jacket like Kulbir and Local?1700winner?Shaquanna Vanness, pictured on the right.

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 ATU website opening page and click ?Go.?? Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win.

BART’s hired gun eats up agency’s tab, some progress in talks

 

Union person

The contract allows him to be paid a maximum of $399,000 and he was halfway there by June for 58 days? worth of work according to records. His tally includes a $350-per-hour consulting fee, along with a hotel room in Union Square, first-class airfare and wine at East Bay restaurants. ?Read more.

Meanwhile BART employees, members of Local?1555, continue to negotiate for reasonable pay increases and other improvements pointing to BART?s $156.8 million operating surplus. Workers wages have been flat since 2009 when they gave back $100 million in scheduled pay increases during the height of the financial crisis.

There has been some progress as the sides traded new proposals and came to terms on pension issues. ?Read more.

U.S. gov’t shutdown could threaten transportation funding, safety

Almost two dozen House Republicans shut down the federal government this week over their objection to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. ??Shutting down the government for Obamacare is like canceling the World Series because your team didn’t make it. Obamacare is the law. You can’t cancel the government,? said new U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA).

Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, this could mean threats to transit service and workers pay depending on how much money transit agencies have in their reserves.?It could also lead to safety concerns as agencies are strapped for money even more.

Another impact of the shutdown being felt in Washington, DC and other systems with high density of federal employees is the loss of ridership. The longer this lasts the more the impact.

FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff said “It?s just a massive, unnecessary distraction from us executing our mission and it?s very, very maddening in that regard.? ?Rogoff said the ?fringe? Republicans setting the agenda in Congress are endangering the credit worthiness of the nation and effecting much more than just public transportation. ?It is not good for the nation when the fringe of any political party is running the agenda and leading everyone else around by the nose.?

Canada’s slippery slide into deregulationCanada Sleepery

Canada has prided itself on being one of the safest, most desirable places to raise a family as regulations by the government have always protected Canadian citizens.

But bowing to pressure from corporations, developers and their lobbyists, there has been a slow, steady, and quiet erosion of government regulations that has put Canadians’ health, safety and wellbeing increasingly at risk. ?The Canadian government unfortunately seems to be following in the footsteps of their neighbors on the their southern border.

?ATU members in Canada are experiencing this first hand with the deregulation of the over-the-road industry having a major impact on services.??Read more.

ATU Tampa city workers ratify strong contract

There?s some good news out of Tampa, as city workers, represented by ATU Local?1464, overwhelmingly voted to accept a new contract.

Under the new 3-year agreement, the 1,800 general employees, who work at clerical, technical and blue-collar jobs for the city, will receive across-the-board pay increases as well as other improvements.

The Tampa City Council followed the workers lead approving the contract.?Read more.

Tennesse busFatal Tennessee bus crash highlights continuing safety concerns

A church bus accident in Tennessee that took the lives of 8 people this week highlights the continuing safety concerns with the motorcoach industry. ATU has a comprehensive campaign calling for stronger government regulation.

While the fatal accident is still being investigated, the bus, taking a church group home to North Carolina, supposedly blew out a tire, crossed the median and crashed into an SUV and a tractor-trailer.Read more.

ATU has pushed hard for better regulation of the motorcoach industry, which has been deregulated since the 1980?s. This has lead to poor safety and maintenance, and blatant abuse of overtime for drivers. The Department of Transportation has engaged in one-time crackdown campaigns, but has not addressed the real issues like driver fatigue.

Unions, more government promote happiness for all

A new report out of the United Nations will definitely surprise the anti-union conservatives in the United States.

The report found labor unions and more government promote happiness not merely for those toward the bottom or middle of the income distribution, but for everyone, rich and poor, men and women, conservatives and liberals. ?This applies not only for the workers who belong to unions but nonmembers, reflecting the louder political voice that organization gives to ordinary citizens.?Read more.

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