Archive for July, 2014

City of Guelph locks out Transit workers

?City of GuelphFrustrated Guelph, ON commuters can blame City officials for having to find an alternative way to work after more than 200 Guelph bus drivers and other workers were locked out by the City.

The members of ATU Local?1189?- Guelph, ON overwhelmingly rejected the City?s latest contract proposal.?The workers have been without a contract since July 2013.

1189 leaders have repeatedly said money isn?t the only issue it?s concerned with, citing working conditions such as washroom and lunchroom facilities as another. City officials say they were not aware of any issues with working conditions until after union members rejected their previous offer. Be sure to check out the ATU website for the latest developments around this dispute.?Read more.

 

DC metro workersDC Metro workers & ATU camel protest WMATA Board Chair’s conflict of interest

If you happened to be walking in downtown Washington, D.C. earlier this week you might have seen a 15-foot inflatable camel and group of transit workers and supporters outside of WMATA headquarters. Their target, WMATA Chair Tom Downs.

They were there to denounce Downs for his dual role as Chair of the Board of Advisors at Veolia Transportation. Veolia, a Paris-based private transit firm has a reputation for wrecking public transportation service in major cities across the United States.

ATU Local leaders from Detroit, Oakland, Niagara Falls and other cities?across North America?joined the group of ATU Local?689?- Washington, DC members for the demonstration. They were in DC for a public engagement training.

?It?s time for Downs to make a choice between serving the people of DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia) and serving his corporate interests,? said Local 689 President Jackie Jeter. ?He should be protecting the integrity and affordability of Metro. Instead he is raising fares on riders and failing to protest the decisions of the elected officials who appointed him that are not in the best interests of riders.??Watch TV story.

Canadian tour bus overturns, killing one…time to address driver fatigue

What would have been a fun-filled weekend trip to New York City turned into a tragedy when a tour bus carrying more than 50 passengers rolled over in upstate New York, killing a teenager and injuring many others.

While the cause of the crash has not be determined, International President Larry Hanley says due to deregulation of the tour bus industry safety has been compromised and driver fatigue has been a major cause of these accidents. ?Riders are forfeiting safety for cheaper fares because of the actions of our governments deregulating the industry.??Read more.

The bus had picked up passengers overnight in three Canadian cities before heading south to New York where it veered off the shoulder and rolled over sideways into the median of the highway.

Accidents like these are happening with increasing frequency ? even to drivers like the operator of this motor coach with?30 years of experience and an impeccable driving record. ?Many of the 3,000 competing interstate bus companies in North America feel free to push their drivers into working long hours at low pay.

ATU has called for the passage of the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act. Sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, this bill would ensure that drivers are paid fairly for the overtime work that they put in above 40 hours per week.

Have you attended an ATU training?ATU training

From Chicago, IL to Oakland, CA, from Mississauga, ON to Scranton, PA more than 6,500 ATU members have participated in ATU training this year.

The ATU is recognizing all of those who have attended trainings in the??Members Trained to Date?scroll located on the ATU website homepage and?Education & Training page.

Participants are learning new strategies to empower members to get involved, make our locals stronger, and prepare for the battles ahead. The trainings also cover how to be an effective union member in a hostile work environment, strategies for bargaining, grievance training and methods to effectively build and maintain coalitions with riders, environmental allies, unions and social justice groups.

Don?t miss out. Contact your local and tell them you want to attend a training.

 


Drivers’ tearful testimony helps pass Winnipeg anti-assault bill

Years of suffering poured out of ATU drivers as they recounted, through tears, the spitting, punching and humiliation they endured at the hands of passengers, during the Winnipeg (MB) City Council?s consideration of a bylaw that will put police cadets on city buses to keep the peace.

The passage of the legislation is the culmination of two years of work by ATU members and Councilor Brian Mayes (St. Vital), who choked up after the law passed, saying, ?People told me their stories, it?s a health and safety issue for the passengers, for the drivers, and I sat through a lot of meetings of people breaking down in tears, even now it?s an emotional thing.

?Very moving to get it through,? he said, ?so hopefully now we can get the cadets on the buses and get that implemented.??Read more.

ATU local leadersATU local leaders take part in innovative public engagement training

Transit discussions at DC area churches; engaging members at Metro garages; public speaking training, mock press interviews; a reporters panel on the do?s and don?t of working with the press; a transit roundtable discussion with the DC Mayoral Democrat nominee Muriel Bowser; and more were part of an innovative public engagement training for ATU local presidents from across North America and Local 689 members in Washington, DC over the past week.

They also held a rally outside WMATA headquarters with ATU’s 15-foot inflatable camel to protest the Board Chair’s conflict of interest (see story above).

The group of nearly 50 participants were immersed in the content rich program focused on engaging members and raising public awareness of crucial issues facing the ATU through effective communications while helping Local 689 on their campaign to fight privatization efforts at Metro. The Local leaders will be taking the skills and knowledge they learned to develop plans in their hometowns to mobilize members and riders to fight for more and better public transit.

ATU denounces FirstGroup CEO pay grab at Scotland shareholders’ meeting

When was the last time you got an 86% raise??Like? never, right?

Well guess what? First Group, the Scottish owner of Greyhound Lines and First Transit in the U.S. and Canada asked its shareholders to sign-off on just that for its top guy ? Tim O?Toole.?That got the attention of ATU, which decided to protest at the multinational?s shareholders? meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The ATU is campaigning to raise the wages and improve the working conditions of terminal workers at Greyhound facilities across the United States and Canada. Greyhound is a North American subsidiary of FirstGroup; three thousand of its employees are represented by ATU Local?1700.

The corporation wants to give O?Toole an ?800,000 raise with an annual ?600,000 bonus, which comes to a total pay package of ?1.9 million.?For those of us on this side of ?the pond,? that equals a $1.37 million raise and bonuses of $1.03 million, which comes to $3.25 million per year.?Pretty sweet, huh??Read more

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Time to deal with inequality

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?Zillionaire

 

Seattle-based businessman Nick Hanauer, one of the most successful entrepreneurs, investors, and mangers in northwest America, is warning his ultra rich peers that income inequality is a growing problem that needs to be addressed before it?s too late. He asked them to support a $15 per hour minimum wage or face the possibility of a violent revolution in a Politico opinion piece

?The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast,? he writes, ?If we don?t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.?If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.??Read more.

Guelph transit workers reach tentative deal – strike averted for now

Guelph Transit riders can breathe a sigh of relief after transit workers and the City reached a tentative deal as a midnight strike deadline approached.

The agreement was reached after a daylong meeting between Local?1189?and The City of Guelph, ON. A lockout was set to begin at midnight, but the agreement will keep the buses rolling as usual. Details of the deal have not been made public. The transit workers are expected to vote on the deal soon.?Read more.

Attack on bus driver prompts call for cops at Halifax transit terminals

Halifax transit workers are fed up and demanding police protection in the wake of the horrific beating of aHalifax Metro Transit driver at the Dartmouth bridge terminal. While trying to break up a fight, a bus driver was surrounded by a group of people who knocked him to the ground and kicked him in the face.

Local?508-Halifax, NS has asked for a meeting with Metro Transit officials to discuss increasing security at bus terminals.

?When the bridge terminal was being built? we asked to have a community police office in there,? says Local 508 President Ken Wilson. ?I?d like to have that conversation [again] to see if we can get HRP officers in our transit terminals.??Read more.

ATU member appointed to Washington State Transportation Commission

With over 30 years of hands on experience in the field of transportation, Roy Jennings,?757-Portland, OR, brings knowledge and commitment to the Washington State Transportation Commission as a new member appointed by Governor Jay Inslee.

?Transportation is a vital function that directly impacts the health of our state?s economy. ?I am excited to serve on the commission and play a role in shaping our state?s transportation future,? Jennings says.

Jennings currently serves as president of the ATU Washington State Legislative Council, a member of the Board of Directors for Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area (CTRAN) ? his local transit agency, and secretary-treasurer of the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council.?Read more.


Condolences to victims of Moscow Subway accident, better safety needed

ATU expressed his condolences to the victims of today?s tragic Moscow Metro train derailment that killed 20Condolences and injured 150.

?Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the dead, and the wounded in this horrible accident,? says Hanley, who noted that ATU members have, themselves, lost brothers and sisters in train accidents across the United States and Canada over the last ten years.

?This is a tragic reminder that governments and transit agencies must do more to maintain the safety of the systems their employees operate, and update the safety equipment that transit workers and riders depend on daily.? Hanley added transit agencies need to provide adequate training so that their workers are prepared to take appropriate life-saving action in emergencies such as these.?Read more.

Labour alliance key to victory in 10-year fight with Peruvian Airlines

Labour allianceGood news from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), of which ATU is a member.? LabourStart ? the activist organization that runs online campaigns ? reports that Peruvian airline workers won a huge victory just two weeks after the news organization launched an online campaign with ITF on the workers? behalf.

ATU is very familiar with LabourStart. When members of ATU Local?1229?were locked out by Acadian Coach Lines in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island a similar online campaign was started against French multinational Keolis to intervene with its Canadian subsidiary, Acadian.

The Peruvian airline workers say that after ?unequal treatment, and a pay freeze for the last ten years,? they have reached an agreement with the company which guarantees job security, an increase in basic salary and improved conditions.? LabourStart is encouraging workers to keep the momentum up by supporting workers in Poland engaged in the following campaigns?here?and?here.

Proposed Winnipeg Transit Bylaw

http://media.winnipegfreepress.com/documents/transit+offences+fines.pdf

ATU’S HANLEY: SCOTUS HARRIS V. QUINN DECISION A THREAT TO ALL WORKERS

?JusticeIn a blow to organized labor the Supreme Court ruled 5-4?that the government could not force home care personal assistants to pay union dues if they did not wish to join the union.?No one should be fooled into thinking that this decision is only about public sector workers. In doing the dirty work for the Koch brothers and their ilk, the high court lowered the bar that all employers will feel obligated to meet in compensating their workers,? said ATU International President Larry Hanley about the ruling.

Hanley warned this decision will not only decrease the wages and benefits of public servants, but it could degrade vital services these workers provide.

?Make no mistake ? this decision is not the end of this story.?It is part of an ongoing effort by the obscenely wealthy ultra-rich to render unions totally ineffective, if not eliminate them altogether.?It is time to fight back, and fight hard, and ATU is prepared to do just that,? Hanley continued.?Read full statement.

ATU celebrates Canada Dayproudtobecanadian

The ATU joins with our Canadian sisters and brothers today in celebrating Canada Day.

?Today we remember the sacrifices of all of the patriots who worked so hard to make Canada the great nation it is today,? said President Hanley in a statement marking the holiday. ?Because of them we take a living wage, dignity and respect on the job for granted.? We honor their memory by continuing their struggle to keep Canada ?The land of hope for all who toil; the ?True North? strong and free!??Read full statement.

Happy Canada Day to one and all from the ATU.

 


Feds shutter Twin Cities charter bus company, must address driver fatigue

While the federal government has forced a small Twin Cities bus company off the road for operating practices that pose ?imminent hazard to the public,? they continue to ignore driver fatigue, the chief cause of fatal bus accidents.

The family-owned On Eagles Wings Charter was cited for dozens of violations, including defects in its 10-bus fleet, allowing a passenger to drive a bus during a trip and the owner?s demand that driver?s logs be falsified to conceal hours on the job.

The company even had one driver rotating among buses to compensate for the absence of three drivers they had previously agreed to loan out.

This is just one example of unscrupulous bus operators paying drivers low wages forcing many to work second jobs to make ends meet. The result is drivers show up to work sleep deprived, threatening the safety of passengers and others.

These companies can do this because bus drivers are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime provisions. Until Congress wakes up and overtime regulations are enacted and enforced we will continue to see fatal accidents on our nation?s highways.?Read more.

 

 


Jersey cityJersey City Mayor Fulop, Sen. Menendez join NJ ATU in call for transit funding

After rallying with ATU members and other transit advocates at the Fund Transit Rally in Washington, DC in May, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has stepped up the pressure in his home state. Fulop joined with Sen. Robert Menendez, ATU members, and transit advocates in Jersey City to call on federal legislators to rescue the federal transportation fund, which is set to expire at the end of July.

Speaking at the Exchange Place Hudson Bergen Light Rail, Fulop said, ?Down here, you look at all these great buildings and all the construction that?s happening and just a mere couple decades ago?this was a picture of urban decay.?What has changed is investment in our highway and mass transportation.?

In 2012 Congress?agreed on a two-year measure for highway and mass transit programs after it kept the fund going from 2009 to 2012 with nine brief extensions.?Congress may be headed in that direction, but ATU is calling for a new six-year bill to fully fund transportation programs. To support that effort Locals have been holding actions across the country calling on Congress?to pass a bill that increases investment in public transportation.?Read more.

World Bank latest to confirm public transit key to combating global warming

A recent World Bank report, ?Adding Up the Benefits,? confirms what most ATU members already know ? that public transit is key to fighting global warming, creating jobs, and stimulating local economies. The report concludes that policies, which improve public transit and energy efficiency, could increase global economic output by more than $1.8 trillion per year.

?This report confirms it?s time for urgent action ? we can?t continue to pretend that climate change is fictitious. Let?s stop kicking the globe around the field like a political soccer ball,? says International President Larry Hanley.?Read more.

CT local demands adequate bathroom breaks

?Is it OK to wear a diaper to work???That Local 1209 members in New London, CT, members have to ask that question shows how desperate they are over the lack of bathrooms and the inadequacy of bathroom breaks at the Southeast Area Transit (SEAT) District.

Local President Jaroslaw Pizunski was denied the opportunity to present the SEAT board with a petition signed by 600 riders to provide drivers with restroom facilities and sufficient time to use them on all routes. SEAT responded that the organization is working with Norwich officials to provide private, full-time access to facilities at the transit center.?It remains to be seen whether this change will be adequate.?Read more.

Meanwhile in Thailand, bus drivers wear diaperThailand drivers

The lack of bathroom breaks for transit workers is an international problem.?In Bangkok, Thailand, drivers don?t get toilet breaks; they wear adult diapers instead to be able to answer nature?s call on the job.

One bus conductor developed urinary tract infection because she spent several hours away from a restroom. So she started wearing diapers, which only made matters worse. ?It was uncomfortable when I moved, especially when I urinated inside,? she said. ?When I arrived at the bus terminal, I had to run to get changed. I used at least two diapers a day.?

She was recently diagnosed with cancer of the uterus, for which she needs to undergo surgery. ?The doctor told me that it was because of wearing dirty diapers and the substances from them going into the uterus.? According to a survey conducted by the Thai Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, 28 per cent of female bus conductors wear diapers during their 16-hour shifts. ?We were shocked,? said the director of the foundation. ?We also found that many of them suffer urinary tract infections and stones in their bladders. Many of the female bus conductors also have uterine cancer.??Read more.


New Bedford transit board welcomes first rider representative
?It?s taken a long time and a lot of hard work, but finally a representative of the New Bedford and Fall River Bus Riders Union (BTU) in Connecticut will have a seat on the Southeast Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) Board. BTU organizer Siggy Meilus will serve in that position for the next year.

“Now we can both advocate and have a vote on expanding services,” Meilus says. “If anything ever comes up about fare increases or something like that, we can now have a rider perspective on the board.”?Read more.?The new york timesPresident Hanley’s?New York Times?letter addresses driver fatigue

That fatigued OTR drivers continue to endanger themselves, their passengers and the riders in other vehicles became tragically apparent with recent crash of an OTR bus into a van carrying comedian Tracy Morgan.

International President Larry Hanley writing in the?New York Times?responded to the news, saying,??To address driver fatigue in a meaningful way, Congress should ?remove the overtime exemption for intercity bus drivers. Extending this simple protection from exploitation by unscrupulous management would discourage the overscheduling of drivers. It would also reduce the need among poorly paid transit drivers to take second jobs during their rest periods.??Read more.

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