Citing exploding urban populations, worsening traffic congestion, young people forgoing cars and stressed public transit systems, ATU President Larry Hanley called on the House Transportation Committee to set forth a major urban transportation agenda at the first hearing on the reauthorization of the transportation funding bill.
??If you think the petty political trick that caused a traffic jam in New Jersey was bad, wait until you see the traffic jams across America as urban populations burst at the seams,? warned Hanley, calling on Congress to double mass transit funding over the next six years. ?Generals fight the last war, legislators appropriate for the last demographic trend and we need to start investing now for the smart public transit that will enable our communities to run.?
If you missed President Hanley?s testimony you can?watch it here.?
California bill banning public transit strike dead
In the wake of the two BART strikes last year, California Senate Republicans attempted to push through a bill that would have banned public transit workers from striking.
However, the bill was rightly rejected as it received minimal support and never made it out of the Senate Committee. Democrats who voted against the bill said, ?it offered nothing to resolve the underlying bargaining issues that separate employees and management or to keep both sides at the table, such as binding arbitration.?
Despite the defeat, Republicans are expected to introduce similar bills. Let?s hope they come to their senses.?Read more.
Cincinnati ATU pushes bill to stiffen penalities against attacks on transit workers
With violent attacks on transit workers rising across North America, Cincinnati transit workers launched a campaign to stiffen penalties against attackers.
Their hard work got a boost when Ohio House members introduced a bill to increase the penalty for assault when the victim is an employee of an Ohio transit system. The legislation, H.B. 355, ?permits the court to impose a fine of up to $5000 and a six-month or lifetime prohibition from riding an Ohio transit system for assault?and increase the penalty for evading payment of the known fares of a public transportation system.??Read the bill here.
Local?627?? Cincinnati Executive Board members were on hand with the Ohio House members as they introduced the bill (see photo on the right).
Unsolved 1998 murder case of Local 1177 President reopened
In 1998, ATU lost a loyal friend and respected brother when retired Local?1177?? Norfolk President Ben Owens was shot and killed during a robbery at a gas station in Chesapeake, VA. The case was never solved, but was recently reopened after authorities found some possible leads.
The International is once again assisting Chesapeake police by honoring its offer of a $6,500 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this crime.
ATU Local 880 sister goes “Above & Beyond”
The homeless and less fortunate in Camden City, NJ have a true hero at ATU Local?880?looking out for them?and setting an example for all ATU members.
Sister Gloria Smith, a bus driver for 28 years, has organized a holiday drive to collect food, clothing and toys for the poorer citizens of Camden City, the last few years.
On Christmas Day, rather than spend it with her family, Sister Smith (on the right in the photo) and her volunteers handed out the food, clothing, blankets, coats, toys, and games while serving hot dogs and coffee to the less fortunate citizens of Camden City.
?Sister Smith has a heart of gold and would do anything for everybody.? She is affectionately known as “Momma G” to her passengers,? said Local 880 President Stephen Knestaut.? ?She always offers to help when she sees someone who is down on their luck.? Sister Smith has an infectious smile and brightens the day of everyone she comes into contact with.? She is truly a selfless person who definitely gives back to society.?
The ATU applauds Sister Gloria Smith for going ?Above & Beyond.?
Thunder Bay transit workers warn of possible strike
With contract talks continuing with a conciliator, Thunder Bay transit workers have set a noon deadline on Saturday for reaching a tentative deal with the City before considering a strike.
ATU Local?966, which represents 170 bus drivers and maintenance staff, has been working without a contract since June 2012.
Local 966 President Shelia Kivisto?said workers don’t want to disrupt services for their passengers,? butwill if they are forced to. The union wants to give riders plenty of advance notice of any job action.?”We have to let people know and make sure everybody is aware of what’s going to happen early Monday morning,? Kivisto said.?Read more.
ATU & A4T applaud bill to modernize Voting Rights Act
New bipartisan legislation will protect the voting rights of minorities, transit riders and all people said ATU and Americans for Transit, applauding the introduction?of the ?Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014.
The?bill addresses the Supreme Court?s?recent Voting Rights Act decision, which turned the clock back to the Jim Crow-era when state laws prevented people of color from voting ? creating a permanent underclass in American society. The ruling required a photo ID to vote.
?It especially hurts transit riders, the poor, seniors, and persons with disabilities, who rely on public transit, often don?t possess driver?s licenses, and are vulnerable to disenfranchisement efforts,? said ATU and A4T. ?We urge Congress to pass this bill to protect the right of every American citizen to vote.? ?Read more.