Lack of Restroom Access for Bus Drivers Needs OSHA Attention

RestroomThe lack of bathroom breaks for bus drivers is a serious problem that can lead to health and safety issues.? Recognizing this House delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to address this issue. ATU’s Hanley says the problem stems from OSHA’s lack of jurisdiction over many government-administered transit agencies and pointed out OSHA’s regulations usually only cover private-sector workers. Read more.

City, bus drivers reach new deal (Winnipeg)

The city has reached a new deal with Transit workers.

On Thursday, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 and the city reached a tentative agreement, with the help off a provincially appointed conciliation officer.

The offer of settlement needs to be approved by the ATU membership and city council before it comes into effect.

The new deal comes six days after ATU members rejected the first tentative agreement their union made with the city.

On June 12, union members ??bus drivers and mechanics ? voted 513-488 against the deal brokered last month between union leadership and city officials, or 51%-49%.

Details of the deal haven’t been made public, but city officials previously announced it had offered a four-year deal featuring an 8% wage increase for drivers and an 8.8% hike for mechanics. The union had countered with a three-year deal that offered a 10.3% raise for drivers and a 20.2% hike for mechanics.

Bus drivers’ safety had been a big concern, and earlier this week the Winnipeg Sun reported that the city hasn’t yet made good on its promise to put cadets on buses because of a lack of recruits.

New deal

No deal Tuesday; city, transit union to return to negotiating table Thursday

IMG_6298Talks between Winnipeg city hall and the transit union ended Tuesday without a deal, but with a promise to meet again.

Union president John Callahan said negotiators for both sides will resume talks Thursday morning, with the aid of a provincially appointed conciliator.

Both sides met Tuesday for the first time since a tentative deal was reached May 22. But that deal was narrowly defeated in a vote last week by members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, whose members were concerned that city hall isn?t committed to improving driver safety and security.

Local 1505 represents about 1,100 transit drivers and 250 maintenance workers.

The transit union contract expired Jan. 17.

Meanwhile, a new collective agreement between the city and its largest union, the 4,600-member CUPE 500, goes to city council for approval Wednesday.

The new two-year deal with CUPE provides annual wage increases of 2 per cent and some benefit improvements.


No deal yet

Schizophrenic man gets two-year jail sentence for assaulting bus driver

ArticulatedA mentally ill man who attacked a city bus driver and broke his nose knew he was courting disaster when he willingly overdosed on his medication, a court heard this week.

Nolan Coutu, 34, pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison, followed by three years supervised probation.

?I have grave concerns about the risk of this individual re-offending and causing serious harm to members of the public,? Judge Catherine Hembroff said, in rejecting a defence recommendation he serve no more time in custody. ?He needs to be separated.?

Coutu ? who suffers from schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and anti-social personality disorder ? has been in and out of custody his entire adult life and has multiple convictions for violence.

Court heard Coutu had been snorting his ADHD medication and was experiencing auditory hallucinations when he boarded a city bus at Portage Avenue and Moray Street around 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2014.

Security video showed Coutu 10 minutes later charging up the aisle, elbowing a female passenger in the head and screaming at the bus driver to pull over. Coutu punched and kicked at the door and demanded the bus driver open it. Coutu punched the driver in the face and threatened to stab him if he didn?t stop the bus. The driver pulled the bus over and Coutu ran off.

Coutu spent the next two weeks in the psychiatric unit at Health Sciences Centre before police arrested him at his mother?s home.

The 53-year-old bus driver suffered a broken nose and bruising to his face and was off work for two weeks.

A doctor who later examined Coutu said he ?was aware of the effects snorting the (medication) typically had for him,? and that he ?ingested the substances voluntarily … and knew it could affect his mental state.?

A pre-sentence report assessed Coutu as a very high risk to re-offend.

Defence lawyer Alan Libman said Coutu?s criminal actions are the result of his mental illness and addictions to drugs and alcohol, ?not the result of a flaw in his character.? Libman argued Coutu needs medical care, not custody.

Hembroff said Coutu?s propensity for abusing his medication shows an alarming lack of insight into his mental illness.

?It?s a concern he doesn?t truly take responsibility for his decisions that increase his risk and increase his symptoms of mental illness,? Hembroff said.


Courtesy of the Winnipeg Sun

Man gets two year jail sentence