Archive for October, 2015

Gatenight

Just a reminder today is gatenight. So keep your windows closed it will save you from a rock in the head. Also someone throws eggs at your windshield DO NOT use your wipers, if your heat is on it will cook. Turning white completely blocking your view. Take care tonight.

Act of Kindness in Hamilton On, Canada

Hamilton Man Godfrey Coutto To Receive Reward Following Act Of Kindness On BusAct of kindness II

Godfrey Coutto became the toast of the Internet after he held hands with a man with special needs on a public bus.

Now, a Hamilton transit union wants to reward him for his touching gesture.

Coutto, a 21-year-old student at McMaster University, will be presented with two $1,000 cheques by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107 and ATU Canada at a ceremony on Wednesday, said in a news release posted to Facebook.

Act of Kindness

 

Michigan Transit Workers Fight To Prevent City Bus System From Eliminating Their Pensions

Detroit_Public_Bus_photoIn recent years, Grand Rapids, Michigan has gained a reputation as a leader in environmental sustainability, with numerous LEED-certified buildings, an increased number of bicycle paths and an improved public bus system with new routes and more frequent stops after voters approved a recent transit millage.

In 2013, Grand Rapids was named the city with the best mid-size transportation system in the country, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Last year, The Rapid, as the city’s bus system is known, finished an upgraded bus garage facility that also garnered LEED certification status.

Pretty impressive. But for the drivers behind the wheel of this top-of-the-line fleet, not all is well: Grand Rapids bus drivers are without a signed union contract, because city officials want to cut their pension funds. One Rapid board member has called the current pension system a “terrible plan” and claims the board wants to “do better” for drivers, the board claims the pension fund is $2.6 million in the red. The drivers disagree.

Over the past few months the Amalgamated Transit Union of Grand Rapids (ATUGR Local 836) has been confronting the local transit authority (The Rapid), its board members and elected officials from Grand Rapids and surrounding communities, many of which contribute taxes to the bus system.

Last week, I spoke with some of the rank-and-file bus drivers for The Rapid as they prepared for another action in defense of their pensions. Peter Ricketson, a member of ATUGR Local 836, told me, “The Rapid wants to get rid of the Defined Benefit Plan because they believe it is in peril. We don’t think that is the case. Even if it was in peril, they should allow us to chip in 20 cents an hour in addition to the $1.00 an hour [The Rapid] already chips in from our wages. They will not agree to this or any other amount.”

The ATUGR has proposed to put an additional amount into the Defined Benefit Plan, because they believe this plan is stronger than the Defined Contribution Plan, which doesn’t have a strong track record nationally and is less stable. Despite the drivers’ offer to pay for the plan, they say The Rapid is refusing to allow them to do so.

“They are saying they want us to accept a Defined Contribution Plan or nothing. It’s like having a conversation with my three-year-old,” Ricketson adds. “This is not a negotiation, it is a strong-arm tactic. In fact, we would simply call it union busting.”

I followed the drivers to East Grand Rapids, one of the wealthiest parts of the city, where they planned to pass out flyers in Amna Seibold’s neighborhood. Seibold is both the mayor of East Grand Rapids and a member of the Rapid’s board. She has been a vocal opponent of the ATUGR’s pension plan.

The drivers went to Seibold’s house first to share a flyer and engage the Rapid board member. She answered the door but was not interested in having a conversation with the bus drivers; instead, Seibold acted in what the drivers say was a very condescending manner, then accused them of being unwilling to negotiate their contract. After leaving Seibold’s house, the drivers passed out the flyer in her neighborhood.

The drivers’ literature accused Rapid management of three things:

  • They raised bus fares by 16%, making it as expensive to ride a bus here as it is in L.A.
  • They are cutting retirement security for bus workers, including those near retirement.
  • They then turned around and raised The Rapid CEO’s salary to $203,000!

Seibold has characterized pensions as an “antiquated system” of retirement security in the past.

Calling pensions “antiquated” is harsh, but it fits within the larger project of imposing austerity measures in Michigan. In 2013, Michigan became a “right-to-work” state, when Gov. Rick Snyder rammed through legislation just before the holiday recess at the end of 2012.

In 2011, when Snyder began his first round of austerity measures in Michigan, he visited Grand Rapids to announce the plan, since the city was already a model for implementing such anti-worker/anti-public policies. Grand Rapids had for years been downsizing public staff, cutting worker benefits and pensions and privatizing public services. Snyder made conditions for “revenue sharing” (when the state gives back tax money to individual communities), which called for cities throughout Michigan to institute similar austerity policies.

This is the context in which The Rapid’s management decided not to negotiate with ATUGR Local 836. Todd Brogan, Field Mobilization Specialist with the national Amalgamated Transit Union, characterized The Rapid’s actions as not only a form of union busting, but a kind of disaster capitalism.

“They created a crisis that didn’t exist, with the hope that you can sway public opinion to support the further erosion of the public sector,” he says.

So far, that strategy hasn’t work. The ATUGR has not only mobilized its members to attend Rapid board meetings, but has also organized bus riders, other unions in West Michigan and other supporters who are angry that their bus fare has increased while the CEO of The Rapid, Peter Varga, has received a raise of $4,000 and the bus drivers are being attacked. Activists from Grand Valley State University’s United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) chapter recently organized a flashmob in support of the ATUGR and marched with bus drivers during the annual art spectacle known as ArtPrize.

In recent months, ATUGR members and their allies have filled public meetings demanding the transit authority return to the negotiating table in good faith. Bus drivers on their own time began handing out informational flyers at the city’s central bus station to inform the public about their contract negotiations—only to have The Rapid threaten to have workers fired for passing out leaflets. The ATUGR took Rapid management to court, where a judge decided in their favor, saying that they were being denied their first amendment rights.

The campaign in Grand Rapids to defend workers rights and protect pensions has even garnered the support of Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who released a statement in support of the campaign.

Grand Rapids has an astonishing high poverty rate of 26%, far higher than the national average, which makes maintaining these middle class jobs and benefits more important than ever. When you raise the fares by 16% in the same meeting that you give the CEO a $4,000 a year raise, there’s a problem. You are taking from the working people of Grand Rapids to give more to the wealthy. This is making inequality in Grand Rapids worse.

As of this writing, the drivers’ organizing appeared to be paying off: The Rapid has agreed to come back to the bargaining table. Drivers I spoke to were optimistic but cautious. Many say they care not only about their jobs, but about the strength of the public transit system in West Michigan. Many of the rank-and-file workers say they helped to get the word out about the 2014 transit millage and feel a sense of pride in making a successful case to voters to support an increase public money for the greater Grand Rapids bus system.

ATUGR President RiChard Jackson said this campaign has galvanized the bus drivers union and created greater solidarity with other unions and community groups from West Michigan. “We are not just in this battle to fight, but to win,” Jackson says. “My union and my workers truly believe that.”

Courtesy of In these times

Calgary transit workers launch campaign against attacks

CalgaryTransitWith more than 80 cases of assaults reported by operators on Calgary Transit since April 2014, transit workers are launching a campaign to curb driver abuse. Local 583 says the attacks on drivers range from verbal abuse, getting soda or coffee poured on drivers and even a closed fist punch. The campaign, which consists of posters on problem routes, will run on transit shelters and billboards with the slogan “be an easy rider.” The Local is planning a meeting with the city to discuss how to prevent abuse in the future and hope the campaign can spread awareness to riders. Read more.

1505 ATU Class of 2015

12095070_963422777051666_6012875919817019891_oOn Saturday October the 17th 2015,  the 37th annual retirement party at the Victoria Inn was a blast for your info this party is not meant only for the retirees it’s meant for everybody, my first time there and food was great.

imageRoger Pinsonneault was the DJ, John Calahan was presiding the event seeing all my retirees friends was priceless and on top of that we got some prizes a 40″ Sony flat screen was the main prize along with another ones were, back packs, pens, muffins, tools, massage sessions, flowers, tools, everything was donated by a lot of important sponsors, let me tell you this I invite everyone for the next time I promise you will have a lot of fun and priceless moments. 

The administrators of this site, brothers and sisters from all over North America, want to pay a tribute to all these amazing brothers and sisters for all these amazing years of service, these operators and mechanics had dedicated good part of their lives to serve citizens from different cities around Canada and the US, we salute you and wish the best on your retirement life.

Watch the video:

John Calahan & Viviane Boucher1544483_10153566895696041_8351411890108844262_n

 

Congratulations to Mister Justin Trudeau

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busdriver.ca wants to congratulate Mister Trudeau on winning the last federal election, we are hoping that his government will be the new Canada that everybody is waiting for.

Federal election results 2015Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to form majority government

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a decisive majority government, capturing 184 seats. The Conservatives, who were seeking their fourth consecutive mandate, will now form the Official Opposition. Find detailed ridings results in our map, see where each party gained and lost support and view the demographic split by party and riding. A total of 88 women were sent to House, see how the vote splits by party. And, track the Liberals surge in the polls over the course of this 78-day campaign.

Leading and elected

338
Majority
LIB
Elected: 184
39.5%
184
Lead: 0
Votes: 6,928,096
CON
Elected: 99
31.9%
99
Lead: 0
Votes: 5,597,115
NDP
Elected: 44
19.7%
44
Lead: 0
Votes: 3,459,838
BQ
Elected: 10
4.7%
10
Lead: 0
Votes: 818,652
GRN
Elected: 1
3.5%
1
Lead: 0
Votes: 605,577
IND
Elected: 0
0.2%
0
Lead: 0
Votes: 40,849
OTH
Elected: 0
0.6%
0
Lead: 0
Votes: 102,046
Courtesy of CBC News

How to increase voter turnout for the Canadian election in two minutes

vote 2015With the critical federal election coming next Monday, October 19, ATU Canada is mobilizing members in a Get-Out-The-Vote effort to elect pro-transit and pro working family candidates. ATU is working to elect Tom Mulcair and the New Democratic Party (NDP). Mulcair and the NDP have pledged to restore the rights Stephen Harper and the Conservatives stripped from the labour movement, and have a strong plan for transit. Comedian and political satirist Rick Mercer has simple plan to get more people to vote. Watch video.

Dia de la Hispanidad

The National Day of Spain, also known as Día de la Hispanidad, is celebrated on October 12. The day was formerly known as Día de la Raza in Spain and in many Latin American countries where October 12 is also observed. While it is still called el Día de la Raza in some countries, such as Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Venezuela have changed the name of the day,

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived to the Americas for the first time. This event was of such great importance that it forever changed the development of both worlds.

Christopher Columbus never realized in his lifetime that he had not arrived to the East Indies, from which the erroneous term Indian in reference to indigenous Americans comes.

After Columbus arrived to America on October 12, 1492, other trips were organized by the Spanish Crown for explorers such as Núñez de Balboa and Francisco Hernández de Córdoba. It was Amérigo Vespucci, however, who realized that they had reached a different continent while he navigated the Northern coast of South America along Brazil and the Patagonia. The land was later called America after Vespucio.

Faustino Rodríguez-San Pedro created the name of the festival in 1913 while he was the President of the Ibero-American Union. This designation served to highlight the cultural ties that united Spain with Latin American countries, and thus to create a common block against the hegemony of the other Western powers.

Spain’s National Holiday coincides with the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar, patroness of the city of Zaragoza and of Spain. In Argentina, the name of the holiday was changed to Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity). In Chile it is calledDía del Descubrimiento de Dos Mundos (Day of Discovery of Two Worlds), in Costa Rica it isDía de las Culturas (Day of Cultures), in the United States it is Columbus Day, in Mexico it isDía de la Raza Iberoamericana (Ibero-American Columbus Day), in Uraguay it is Día de las Americas (Pan American Day), and finally in Venezuela the holiday is known as the Día de la Resistencia Indígena (The Day of Indigenous Resistance).

On 2014 the United Nations declared October 12 Spanish Language Day, a day to honor a language that unifies speakers on both sides of the Atlantic.hispanidad

Happy Thanksgiving Canada, we love you!

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ATU retirement banquet

On Saturday October 17th we are holding our annual ATU retirement banquet. Honoring  all the lucky souls who have served their full sentence with transit. It is open for all ATU members who want to say congratulations and enjoy a evening of a good meal, and enjoy a drink or two with a fellow brother or sister. This will be the 4th time Kim and I will be attending and last year we sat with 3 past members whom have been retired for 30 year.  Some of The stories they told are a testament Captureon how this place has changed. It is well worth the $37.50. tickets can be ordered until noon Saturday Oct 17th 

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