Bloomberg to blame for NYC school bus drivers rejecting contract

NYCMayor Bloomberg is to blame for the Staten Island-based school bus company Atlantic Express going out of business after NYC school bus drivers and matrons rejected a final contract offer.

The mayor created chaos and a school bus strike last February by removing long-held employee protections that ensured that the most experienced school bus drivers and matrons were on the job. He forced Atlantic Express to lower workers? wages and benefits, which ATU Local 1181 members voted down.

?The clear intent and result of his school bus assault was to lower wages of already poor men and women who work every day for New Yorkers,? says ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?There is a special place in hell for people like Michael Bloomberg.?.

Attacks on Vancouver transit workers on the rise

Attacks on Vancouver transit operators are way up in 2013, but transit workers are taking a proactive approach to help prevent these violent assaults.

In an effort to decrease the number of attacks, ATU and Unifor have increased rewards from $2,000 to $15,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of anyone who assaults an operator.

To date, there have been 124 assaults on transit operators. ATU hopes that the increase in reward will serve as a warning to assailants that their chances of getting caught will be a lot higher.

Halifax transit workers spread holiday cheer from land to seaMerry Cristmas

After a long day of work who wouldn?t want to board a bus or ferry wishing them a happy holiday?

In an effort to remind riders that they are dedicated to keeping them safe during the holiday season Local 508-Halifax, NS,has launched a holiday ad campaign on buses and ferries. The ad, on the right, wishes riders ?Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays: Delivering HRM?s Most Precious Cargo!? The posters can be seen on buses and at ferry terminals, but the spirit can be felt everywhere.

BART workers sue management over contract “mistake”

After the BART Board reneged on a ratified contract, Local 1555-Oakland, CA, and SEIU Local 1021 have said ?no more? and filed suit against the Bay Area system to have a judge order the transit agency to abide by the agreed upon deal.

The unions approved the contract after six months of negotiations and two strikes. However, the BART Board claimed a provision, allowing employees six weeks of paid family leave in addition to their vacation time in the signed contract was a ?mistake? that was too costly, and rejected the contract.

?The Board of Directors is not in any position to cherry-pick which parts of the contract it intends to honor and which it does not,” said one of the union attorneys who filed the suit. ?We have a complete and final agreement, and they need to honor it.?

ATU and SEIU have said they are open to work with BART to settle the dispute, but the board has made no sign of intending to talk.

Massachusetts transit workers, bus riders rally for Sunday service

MassachussettsFor New Bedford and Fall River area workers and citizens, no Sunday bus service means no affordable way to get to work, church or other daily tasks. In an attempt to improve service, transit workers joined members of Bus Riders United (BRU) at a rally to demand Sunday bus service.

The coalition, which successfully fought for extended bus hours to 9 pm last year, hopes to score another victory that would allow those without a car to get to work, religious services, and to run other errands, on Sundays.

?On Sundays, we?re stranded,? said one of the transit advocates at the rally. ?If you have to work on Sundays, you can?t get to work unless you take a cab.?

Area cabs, which start at $4.25 for the first mile, take up most of Sunday worker?s pay. Sunday bus service is more than a convenience issue, it?s the difference between working and unemployment.

Oregon Rep. looks to gas tax for transit funding

With the support of ATU, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, unveiled his proposal to increase the federal gas tax by 15 cents per gallon over the next three years to help fund the nation?s transportation needs.

According to Blumenauer the added revenue from the tax, which has not been increased since 1993, will provide more money for transportation and help reduce deficit spending.

He also introduced an alternative bill that would create a mileage-based transportation tax that would charge people based on how much they use surface transportation.

?With public transit ridership at record highs, and cars and trucks crowding our roads, our nation?s transportation network is in dire need of repair and maintenance. As happened in the this week?s deadly New York commuter crash, more lives will be lost, and the mobility necessary for a thriving economy will be compromised unless we invest heavily in our nation?s public transit infrastructure,? says International President Larry Hanley. ?Congressman Blumenauer has introduced two bills that dedicate critical funding to public transit, which is the lifeblood of our economy.? Read more.

ATU gears up to fight privatizationATU President

As foreign multinational transit companies attempt to privatize transit systems across North America, ATU is gearing up for the fight, International President Hanley told The Chief newspaper in New York.

Aggregation of power, maximizing strength, and marshalling support early are among the many tactics ATU will employ in the battle against the privatization of transit.

Hanley said delegates at the Union?s 57th Convention voted to create industry councils to unite members of different locals who work for the same private company, making small locals tougher to defeat.

?We need to have a more global approach,? says Hanley. ?We can?t have 130 locals negotiating separately. In a situation where power matters, there?s no way to relate to them if you don?t aggregate your power. The relationship is totally unbalanced.?

ATU also will continue to bring other stakeholders into local fights. A broad coalition in Weston, WI, played a key role in passing a referendum forcing city officials to bring back buses to the small town, which lost state funding in 2011.

?The truth of it is there?s a strong sense of community out there of people that recognize the value of the service to their city ? that we are our brother?s keeper,? Hanley said.

ATU honors life & legacy of Nelson Mandela

MandelaThe ATU and world has a lost a true visionary, revolutionary, peacemaker, and friend. South African freedom fighter and past president, Nelson Mandela, passed away Thursday night at age 95.

Mandela was an anti-apartheid icon and champion for human dignity, freedom, peace and reconciliation for all people.

?As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I?d still be in prison,? Mandela said when he was freed in 1990. after 27 years in prison.

We at ATU will forever be grateful for the life and work of Mandela. The South African leader fought for the rights and justice for all.