Archive for September, 2014

St. Louis Metro CEO Nations Defends racial slur

St Lois MetroSt. Louis Metro CEO John Nations defended race baiting by his staff, saying the Oreo cookie recipe handed out to transit workers during contract talks was ?not racial.?

What world is he living in?

The majority of Metro bus operators are African-American, while mechanics and ATU Local?788-St. Louis, MO President are white. The obvious message with the recipe was that the union is ?white on the inside and black on the outside,? like the cookie.

?Apparently, John Nations hasn?t watched the local news lately. Standing by a comment like this is just throwing fuel on the fire. If he was an NBA owner, public school teacher or police officer, people would be calling for his head,? said ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?This is about treating all people?- black, white, and brown – with dignity and respect.?

In its ongoing campaign to fight for a fair and just contract, ATU recently launched an ad campaign in the?St. Louis American?and on?radio stations?to highlight Metro?s attempts to racially divide the workforce.?The workers have not had a new contract for three years or a raise for six years.?Read more.


NYC

?school bus workers vote for strike authorizationSchool charter

Here we go again with a possible strike by NYC school bus workers.

Despite Mayor de Blasio?s promise of millions of dollars in payroll-boosting grants, 1,800 school bus drivers, matrons, and mechanics for Reliant Bus Company voted in favor of authorizing a strike because half of them are not eligible for the city?s bonus cash.

?The company is playing the city and the public and, worst of all, creating a low-wage, less-experienced workforce on the road,” said Michael Cordiello, President of ATU Local?1181, representing the school bus workers.

Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.?Read more.


Largest ClimateATU gears up for Peoples’ Climate March, Sept. 21 in NYC

More than 800 ATU members will gather in NYC this Saturday for the Peoples? Climate March to tell the world that riding public transit is one of the best and easiest ways to combat climate change.

The massive event is being held as world leaders are meeting in NYC for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.? Find out more about the?Peoples’ Climate March.

If you are in NYC this Saturday you can join with your fellow ATU members, other union members and environmental activists from across the globe as they take to the streets to demand a world safe from the ravages of climate change and to promote healthy communities with robust public transportation systems. Marchers will be gathering at 59th?and Broadway at 10:30 am this Sunday.


Majority of Americans support more federal investment in transitAmericans

 

As transit ridership continues to break records and agencies struggle with budget woes, it?s no surprise that the number of Americans that support increasing federal investment in public transportation increased to almost 68 percent.

The poll by the Mineta Transportation Institute also found that nearly 74 percent of Americans back the use of tax dollars for expanding and improving public transit. The respondents also recognized that robust transit systems create jobs and a stronger economy by providing better mobility for everyone.

ATU has known this for a long time and hopefully Congress gets the message and passes a long-term transportation bill that provides robust funding for pubic transit.?Read more.


ATU Local 1572 raises $13,000 to fight women’s cancerLocal 1572

 

ATU Locals have a long history of charitable activities. Recently Local1572-Mississauga, ON female

members and staff took on a challenge to raise money to fight women?s cancers. They pledged to walk 36 km as part of ?A Weekend to End Women?s Cancer? held annually in Toronto and Montreal.

The Local pledged a donation to the group of $1000 and had a commemorative shirt made, all embroidered in pink. Minister of Heritage, Shelley Glover said, ?I?commend your union for its patriotism and support of this worthy cause.??Local members organized pizza days, sold tickets, held parties, and participated in back yard BBQ?s to gain support and raise funds for this great cause.?In the end, they raised an excess of $13,000. The ATU salutes these members and their Local for their commitment to this great cause.


Dallas workersDallas paratransit workers protest poor conditions

ATU paratransit members are all too familiar with the lists of issues plaguing their industry. From long waits, to late appointments, and poor working and safety conditions, all seem synonymous with the one type of service that can least afford it.

Dallas paratransit drivers are putting their feet on the ground to protest these conditions and highlight these disturbing issues.

?It?s just a variety of issues these employees have been having,? said Ken Day, president of Local1338-Dallas, TX, representing the DART transit workers. ?They seem to get better for a little while. Once things quiet down, we seem to have a repeat of the same issues.? Apparently these issues have been going on for years.

One driver says that?dispatchers add extra passengers and send drivers on out-of-the-way routes that make riders late for medical appointments. MV, the company contracted by DART, has continually caused all the issues listed above, and has even been fined for falling short of their goals.?Read more.


C-Tran workers get strong contractC tran workers

After more than two years of negotiations, C-Tran?s fixed-route bus and paratransit operators have a new contract with wage increases and strong benefits.

The Local?757-Portland, OR members had been working under the same contract since 2012. The deal was approved by 93 percent of the members and the the C-Tran board approved the new contract by a 6-1 vote.

The new contract gives workers retroactive raises and among the new provisions is ?longevity pay,? granting an extra bump in pay to drivers who have worked for C-Tran for at least 15 years.?Read more.

National September 11 Museum open for 1st time

With the toll of a bell and a solemn moment of silence, the United States paused Thursday to mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

Stephen Albert, whose father Jon died during the attacks, kicked off reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Penn. He said his dad was a dedicated father, husband and respected colleague.

?People from 911“He will be sorely missed,” he said.

The sad roll call was to pause only four times: to mark the times when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, when the second plane struck, when the first tower fell and when the second tower fell.

Thelma Stuart, whose husband Walwyn Wellington Stuart, Jr., 28, was a Port Authority Police Department officer, said the nation should pray for its leaders, “that God will grant them wisdom, knowledge and understanding on directing them on moving forward.”

In Washington, a few minutes before 9 a.m. ET, President Barack Obama emerged from the White House with his wife, Michelle, and Vice President Joe Biden to observe a moment of silence marking the 13th anniversary.

Scores of White House staff joined the Obamas and Biden for the solemn moments under partly cloudy skies on the South Lawn of the White House. They heard the playing of?Taps?there before returning to the Executive Mansion and heading to the Pentagon for a service there.

In New York, little about the annual ceremony at ground zero has changed. But so much around it has.

For the first time, the National September 11 Museum ? which includes gut-wrenching artifacts and graphic photos of the attacks ? is open on the anniversary. Fences around the memorial plaza have come down, integrating the sacred site more fully with the streets of Manhattan while completely opening it up to the public and camera-wielding tourists.

‘Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it’s where kids are running around. Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie.’– Nancy Nee, sister of 9/11 victim George Cain, a firefigher

A new mayor is in office, Bill de Blasio, one far less linked to the attacks and their aftermath than his immediate predecessors. And finally, a nearly completed One World Trade Center has risen 541 metres above ground zero and will be filled with office workers by this date in 2015, another sign that a page in the city’s history may be turning.

For some who lost loved ones in the attacks, the increasing feel of a return to normalcy in the area threatens to obscure the tragedy that took place there and interfere with their grief.

9-11 Rose

A rose is placed on a name engraved along the South reflecting pool at the Ground Zero memorial site during the dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in May. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001. (Spencer Platt/Reuters)

“Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it’s where kids are running around,” said Nancy Nee, whose firefighter brother, George Cain, was killed in the attacks. “Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie.”

But for others, the changes are an important part of the healing process.

“When I first saw [One World Trade Center], it really made my heart sing,” said Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. “It does every time I see it because it’s so symbolic of what the country went through.”

“I want to see it bustling,” she said. “I want to see more housing down there, I want to see it alive and bursting with businesses.”

Memorial plaza

The memorial plaza will be closed to the public for most of the day and only available to family members. It will reopen at 6 p.m., at which point thousands of New Yorkers are expected to mark the anniversary at the twin reflecting pools where the towers once stood.

9-11 memorial

People visit the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial while the Tribute in Light is illuminated on the skyline of lower Manhattan during events marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in Jersey City, New Jersey on Wednesday night. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

On the same day in May when the museum opened in a ceremony attended by President Barack Obama, the fences that had surrounded the plaza for years disappeared, as did the need for visitors to obtain a timed ticket. Now, thousands of people freely visit every day, from cellphone-toting travellers to workers on a lunch break, and those crowds will only swell further this year when One World Trade Center finally opens.

“The memorial and museum is extremely important to those impacted on 9/11,” said Mary Fetchet, whose son, died in the attacks. “And surrounding that memorial, lower Manhattan has been revitalized.”

The first ceremony at the site was held six months after the Twin Towers fell and was organized by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides. Bloomberg, who took office just three months after the attacks, remained in charge, acting as the master of ceremonies for the next decade.

After other elected officials attempted to gain a larger role at the solemn event, in 2012, all politicians ? including Bloomberg ? were prohibited from speaking at the event. That remains the case now, as de Blasio, who took office in January, agreed to let the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation organize the commemoration ceremony. Bloomberg is the foundation’s chairman.

The 40 passengers and crew who died when hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania during the attacks were to be honoured in a new way during the 13th anniversary ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

A Congressional Gold Medal awarded to those who died at the site of the memorial was to be presented as part of the ceremony. Bells were to be rung, and the names of the victims were read starting at 10:03 a.m., the moment the airliner crashed as passengers fought with hijackers for control of the jet.

Courtesy of CBC News

Winnipeg committee gives green light to new bus safety plan, bylaw

John CallahanCallahan said his members are happy with the addition of the cadets because they have greater powers to ?arrest and detain? than the inspectors.

He also said assaults on staff continues, such as a recent event where a person vandalizing a bus sucker-punched the driver who caught him.

?The main goal is obviously safety for our ridership and of course our members as well, and hopefully this will help to deter some of the more serious assaults,? he said.

A councillor on the committee raised concerns about the bylaw before passing it, namely a section that prohibits people from staying more than 90 minutes in a bus shelter, except for the purpose of boarding a bus.

Wardrop said the intent is to apply the bylaw ?with good judgment,? and provide help to any person in distress.

The city?s report, tabled at Friday?s committee meeting, calls for two cadets to start patrolling buses in September, at a cost of $48,385 for the last three months of this year. The cadets? cost for 2015 and subsequent years is estimated at $85,625.

The report now moves on to executive policy committee and city council. It also needs the support of the Winnipeg Police Board.

Winnipeg committee gives green light

Courtesy of Metro (Winnipeg)

Members out in force for Transit Action events

?Members out in forceA public transit forum with Winnipeg Mayoral candidates; leafleting DC Metro riders about the risks of outsourcing transit; voter registration outreach with political candidates in Cincinnati, and a rider appreciation day in Niagara Falls, are just a few of the ATU transit action events taking place today and in the coming weeks.

Locals across North America are mobilizing and educating riders to fight for more and better transit.This is part of an ATU-wide transit action campaign to raise awareness about the important role robust public transit plays in reinvigorating our communities.

If you want to get involved in transit action events contact your local today. Also be sure to check out the?ATU website?and?Facebook page?for updates about these exciting events.


Tell the U.S. Senate to overturn Citizens United

Last night the U.S. Senate took an important step to stop corporations from buying election by voting toCitizens united advance a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Now we must put the pressure on the Senate to stand up for democracy and hard working Americans and pass this critical measure to stop the limitless, unregulated money corporations spend to sway elections.

?The Citizens United decision allowed the Koch brothers, their corporate allies and the elitist rich to lavish far more money than ever before on political candidates who share their goals of crushing working people and defunding public transit,? said ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?It?s time for the Senate to curb money in politics and put America back in the hands of the people.?

Click here?to find phone numbers and emails to contact your two Senators and tell them to vote to pass amendment S.J. Res 19 to overturn Citizens United.


Saskatoon Transit

?Saskatoon Transit on virtual life support

ATU members on both sides of the border are all too familiar with the burdens of working for an agency or company that?s trying to run a transit system on the cheap.?The latest example comes from Saskatoon, SK, where Local?615?members have just rejected the latest city proposal for a new contract.

But Saskatoon Transit riders have a different difficulty.?As one city columnist put it: ?Saskatoon Transit is a mess.?

The agency?s buses are really old, and the agency doesn?t have enough mechanics to keep up with all of their problems, which they are blaming workers for.

This has caused increasing disruptions of service as buses break down and even catch fire, thus endangering our members and passengers.?Citizens are now looking to the provincial government to provide the same kind of support for urban transit as other provinces do.

Adding insult to injury, a nine-year-old boy managed to take an empty, idling city bus for a short joy ride on Saturday.?The juvenile operator hit another parked city bus and a car before getting stuck on a curb.?Thankfully, no one was injured.?Read more.


St. Louis Alderman stands in support of Metro workers

Metro transit workers got a boost in their fight for a fair and just contract as St. Louis alderman Joe St LouisVaccaro, pictured with members on the right, publicly backed workers in their dispute.

Members of ATU Local?788-St. Louis, MO were joined by Vaccaro at a demonstration at a transit stop to inform riders about Metro CEO John Nations’ recent $75,000 raise and new contract through 2020 while workers haven’t had a raise in six years or a new contract in three.

Over the past three weeks, Metro workers have intensified their campaign. The local union continues to hold actions at transit centers. The St. Louis County Council passed a?resolution?demanding Metro reach an agreement with its workers that “preserves and protects the retirement benefits of Metro’s employees.”

In addition, the heat will turned up in the coming week to expose the ?transparent race baiting? by Metro?s bargaining team and other economic injustice.?Read more.


Stockton transit workers call for removal of agency’s leaders

They haven?t been able to negotiate a contract in over a decade ? relying, instead, on outside Stockton TRansitarbitrators.?Now, in the midst of negotiations for a new contract, Local?276-Stockton, CA, has submitted a petition demanding the removal of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District Board and administration.

The petition states that the district has wasted millions of dollars on consultant and attorney?s fees, while service has declined, and the needs of citizens and employees have been ignored.

?There?s a lot of money spent in the transit district that could be spent on transit instead of other things,? says Local President Alan Wagner.?Read more.


 

Worcester School Bus Driver Allegedly Punched in Face After Refusing to Let Kids Off

A bizarre scene unfolded at a Worcester school bus stop Wednesday, when what should have been a routine drop-off became a 10-minute standoff between angry parents, their crying children and the bus driver who was allegedly punched in the face when she refused to the students off the bus.

According to?MassLive?(which also has video of the incident shot by one of the parents), parents of Quinsigamond Elementary School students became impatient when the school bus pulled up to the stop but didn?t let anyone off. A school policy says that kindergartners must be matched with their parents before they can be let off the bus.

That process apparently took too long, and the Worcester school department said in a statement that a few parents tried to get on the bus. The driver then closed the door, trapping the kids inside.

As seen on MassLive?s video, the bus remained in place for several minutes as parents became increasingly upset. The bus then attempted to move forward, at which point things escalated quickly: Some parents jumped in front of the bus to block it, while others ran to the back and helped the children, who were screaming and crying by this point, escape out the emergency door.

By the end of the video, parents can be seen entering the bus through the front door (the school?s statement says they broke the door) and shouting threats at the driver as police arrive.

At some point during the scuffle, a 16-year-old girl allegedly punched the driver in the face.?CBS Boston?reports that she will be summonsed to court and charged with assault and battery.

The incident is still being investigated.

Heat turned up in St. Louis, US

Heat turned upContinuing to ratchet?up a campaign fighting for a fair contract for St. Louis transit workers and economic justice for all, ATU International President Larry Hanley called on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to remove Metro CEO John Nations for his failure to ?correct the outrageous conduct of his staff at the bargaining table?.

In?a?letter to the Governors?Hanley?pointed to evidence of race baiting by members of Metro?s negotiating committee who offered members of ATU Local?788?a recipe for ?OREO cookies? at the end of a very heated bargaining session. There have been no contract talks since. Metro workers have gone three years without a new contract and six years without a wage increase.

The incident occurred as Nations, who recently received a $75K raise and 3-year contract extension, engaged in illegal activity by encouraging mechanics to leave the ATU and form their own union. He has publicly dismissed the ?OREO? incident as a Metro employee sharing his baking hobby.

Despite threats by Nation to discipline workers for leafleting on Metro property, workers have intensified their campaign with rallies, leafleting riders, and other actions.?Read more.


DC train operator helps stop suicide

A 22 year-old is lucky to be alive after jumping onto a DC Metro tracks thanks to the quick thinking of a Metro train operator and transit police. The dramatic rescue was caught on?video.DC train

Transit Police were called to the platform after receiving a report of a disorderly man who was harassing other riders. When approached, the man suddenly jumped off the platform onto the track while saying he wanted to die.

The transit police officers radioed for train traffic to be stopped, and along with others on the platform, they attempted to signal the train to stop by waving their arms. The train operator saw the activity and immediately activated the emergency braking system.

As the approaching train slowed down the distraught man made a last-second attempt to jump back on the platform and was pulled him out of the train’s path with no time to spare.

The ATU applauds the heroic action of the train operator and the transit police.


Bus drivers need bathroom breaks too

Bathroom breaksAfter the April defeat of a King County sales tax ballot initiative to help pay for bus service, riders can expect to see more crowded buses and tighter schedules with the pending service cuts to help meet the reduced budget.

It?ll also leave Seattle bus drivers with shorter rest times, leaving many to cross their legs to refrain from using the bathroom. ?Some drivers will have less that 5 minutes for a break and at many stations there is only one bathroom.
One retired member from Local?587?? Seattle, WA, summed up the dilemma drivers face. “If the bus is running even slightly behind schedule, you can either go to the bathroom and be late for your next trip ? with the possibility of customers complaining or supervisors saying, ?How come you left late for your last trip??? he said. ?It?s a safety thing. Do you want people driving a thousand pound vehicle through traffic and be constantly worried about emptying their bladders??
This is a matter of human dignity that many transit workers face across North America and ATU is working to come up with solutions to deal with it.
Seattle voters in November will consider another ballot measure imposing an annual $60 vehicle fee and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to help fund transit. Hopefully it?ll pass giving everyone some relief.?Read more.

Rallying cry in Toledo – “Fix It, Fund It, Make It Fair” now

Calling for fully funded public transit for the Toledo Metro area, hundreds of transit workers, riders and Cameladvocates attended a ?Fix It, Fund It, Make It Fair? rally in downtown Toledo.?ATU members from across Ohio as well as Detroit and Washington DC attended the rally.

Protesting the slashing of more than 400 hours of bus service to communities that have pulled out of TARTA, attendees called for a sales tax to fund public transit rather than the current property tax. Making matters worse, most of jobs in the Toledo area are located in areas with no TARTA service, leaving those who can?t afford a car no?access to these jobs.

?This is a critical community issue to keep growing our region,? said Carly Allen of ATU Local?788. ?The current form of transit funding is?standing in the way of improving Toledo public transit, it?s making it worse. It?s time to ?Dump the Hump?,? referring to the inflatable camel at the rally.?Watch story.


Join ATU at the Peoples’ Climate March, Sept. 21 in NYC

One of the best and easiest ways to combat climate change, ride public transit!largest climate

That is the message ATU members will be delivering during the Peoples? Climate March on September 21 in New York City.?The massive event is being held as world leaders are meeting in NYC for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary? General Ban Ki-?moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

Join with your fellow ATU members, other union members and environmental activists from across the globe as they take to the streets to demand to keep our world safe from the ravages of climate change; and promote a world with good jobs, clean air and water; healthy communities, and robust public transportation systems. Find out more about the?Peoples’ Climate March.


Vancouver to test bus driver shieldsVancouver bus driver
?The beating of a Halifax bus driver trying to break up a fight, a Washington DC bus operator getting slashed by a knife, a Cleveland bus driver held at gun point while driving. These are just a few of the growing number of vicious attacks on transit workers.

Vancouver?s TransLink has decided to take action to help stop and prevent these needless attacks. They will be launching a pilot project to install bus driver barrier shields on a number of buses towards the end of this year. The Pexiglass barriers, designed to protect drivers from violent assaults by unruly passengers, have been installed in buses on other public transit systems around the world.?In most cases, attacks on drivers begin with confrontations over the refusal to pay fares, but a growing number are unsolicited.?Read more.

The ATU has been engaged in a campaign to stop these violent attacks on transit workers across North America including releasing the recent report,??Ripped from the Headlines: Bus Drivers Under Attack??in a?U.S. version?and?Canadian version.

Happy Labor Day Canada/USA

Happy-Labor-day-us-and-canadaAn Opportunity this Labor Day?

by ATU International President Larry Hanley

This weekend we will celebrate Labor Day in the United States and Canada, a day most people think of as nothing more than time off for picnics or a last trip away with their friends and family.
Unfortunately, a growing number of people who have the day off won?t be happy about it because it will be a day they don?t get paid.? For them, having the day off means that they will have less to eat, will have to delay a trip, or skip a prescription refill. And many others still remain without a job.

Many of those with jobs are forced to work more than one full- or part-time job with irregular hours and no job security, just to get by. They are all but invisible, yet they are all around us working long hours for minimum wages, maximizing profits for their wealthy bosses.

These are the working poor who endure the very same conditions that gave rise to the labor movement in the 1800s ? no paid vacation days, no sick days, no consistent work rules, poor safety, and no employer-provided health care.

Labor Day is also a time to reflect on all of the hardships that were endured by those who fought and died so that we could enjoy the fair fruits of our labor.

But by solely focusing on the past we risk seeing the labor movement as a vestige of history; something that was great in its day ? but of little relevance in the 21st Century.

That suits the enemies of working families just fine.? The more we think of trade unionism as some sort of quaint artifact of an earlier era, the freer they will be to exploit workers who don?t even know that there are labor laws in place to protect them.

Some people believe that unions are no longer necessary, but even a minimal understanding of the growing income inequality in our countries makes it abundantly clear that workers need to act forcefully now to stop the erosion of their ability to earn a living wage.

The glue that keeps our nations together ? the middle class ? has all but disappeared.? And this is not simply an economic issue for those who find that they can?t pay their bills, no matter how hard they work.? Human dignity is under assault, and our nations ignore this at great peril.

If we learned anything from the recent racial strife and civil unrest in Ferguson, MO (and I?m not sure we have), it?s that you can?t treat people like they are less than human for very long.? If we don?t start providing citizens with real economic opportunity, Ferguson will happen over and over again all over America, and even in Canada.

And so, this weekend, I suggest that rather than reflecting on the past, we focus on tomorrow and the opportunity working people have to build a movement to rise up and challenge the growing classism in our society. The future of our children depends on it, and I hope we seize that opportunity.

buy valacyclovir