Archive for June, 2016

ATU CANADA rallies to stop attacks on bus operators

In light of a recent spate of attacks on Kelowna bus drivers, ATU members from across Canada banded together for a rally in Kelowna to call for a stop to bus driver assaults. ATU Canada is holding its annual conference in Kelowna. On May 20, four separate attacks on Kelowna bus drivers happened in one day. “We want to make sure that our members are able to go to work every day and not fear that they are going to be assaulted in any way,” says ATU Canada President Paul Thorpe. Attacks on bus drivers are a problem across North America and ATU has been pushing for protective bus driver shields, panic buttons on all buses, more transit police and other safety measures. Read more.


Buffalo bus riders suffer as transit agency curtails routes

When a transit agency has trouble doing its job – or filling its jobs – and the problem can cost riders their jobs, you have a city whose rebound is slowed in its tracks writes a columnist in the Buffalo News. That’s what is happening at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, where a shortage of drivers is forcing the agency to cut city bus runs. That leaves riders waiting for buses that may not come as they try to get to work, home, the doctor or other daily tasks. Local 1342 President Vince Crehan points out that the agency uses “roving cuts” that avoid targeting the same route every day so riders don’t catch on and complain, but those without smartphones can’t check for updates, leaving them stranded. Read more.


Democrats should listen a lot more to labor

Limiting the number of labor leaders on the committee that will draft the Democratic convention platform represents a missed opportunity writes Nationcolumnist John Nichols. Both parties, and most of the political and media elite, fail to respect the depth and breadth of the insights that union leaders and activists bring to debates about the real issues facing America. Meanwhile, while business leaders comment on everything – and even run for president – labor leaders are often ignored. Nichols points to union leaders like “Larry Hanley, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, [who] is an expert on transportation policy and on how investments in public transportation help to address climate change.” Read more.


ATU & city officials want to put the brakes on outsourcing Calgary Transit

The anti-union campaign to privatize public transit is making inroads in Calgary, AB, as a result of a consultant’s recommendation that claims the city will save money by contracting out public transit work. While some council members are supporting the move, Local 583, other city officials and labour groups want to put the brakes on the push to outsource. The opponents argue that privatization will not save money in the long haul. “There’s a past history showing contracting out doesn’t work,” says the Local. “You may find some savings at first but, when all is said and done, the savings come out to be a wash.” The Local adds that privatization of cleaning bus shelters has sometimes led to undone work being completed by ATU members. Read more.


TriMet operator: ‘Police officers that ride our bus say they wouldn’t do our job’

Another day and another attack on a transit worker. This time, the incident happened in Portland, OR. The TriMet driver found a man sleeping in a bus shelter and asked him to leave. A short time later, the man asked the bus operator to provide transportation for free. When the driver refused, the attacker punched the driver in the eye, knocking him to the ground. The suspect has been arrested. With 25 to 30 attacks reported this year, and many unreported, operators are calling on TriMet to improve safety to protect drivers and riders. Watch story.


ATU working to stop wage theft in New Jersey

New Jersey construction worker Felix Lema said his boss refused to pay him for his work, threatening to turn him into immigration authorities for deportation. Lema is not alone. ATU joined a broad spectrum of groups supporting legislation to strengthen New Jersey’s wage theft law. The NJ Senate Labor Committee approved a bill that allows wage theft victims to have their claims not only heard by the state DOL but in municipal and superior courts, but state Republicans say businesses will suffer. “When a Republican legislature wants to say this hurts business, I say to you that’s BS,” says ATU NJ State Council Chair Ray Greaves. Read more.


NIH shuttle driver tells church about intimidation by private contractor

NIH shuttle drivers have been bullied and intimidated by private contractor W&T Travel and have not had a raise or even a contract since 2012, Local 1764member and NIH shuttle driver Russell Hebron told congregants of Bethesda (MD) United Church of Christ this past weekend. Hebron was fired by W&T after he, and two fellow drivers were suspended for wearing union buttons on NIH “Button Day”. After months of stalled contract talks the union filed two unfair labor practice charges against W&T, which is owned by Darnell Lee, a self-proclaimed “Blue Collar Millionaire” who has publicly boasted about his impressive collection of luxury watches, pricey jewelry and an 8,000 square foot mansion, among other things.


A tale of two tunnels – Baltimore and Switzerland

“Two events over the past week perfectly illustrate the contrasting circumstances of public transportation in the United States and in the rest of the industrialized world,” says a Baltimore Sun editorial. In Switzerland, authorities opened the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel, while in Baltimore members of Local 1300donned rat masks to expose the dangerous and unhealthy condition of Metro subway tunnels and stations, which are filled with rats and trash. This highlights the commitment and investment in public transportation systems that governments of other countries make while elected officials in the U.S. continue to neglect our nation’s public transportation systems and infrastructure. Read more.

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‘It was a hideous crime’: Afghan-American community condemns Orlando massacre carried out by ‘one of their own’

 

  • Omar Mateen killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub and was born to Afghan immigrant parents
  • Fremont, about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco, is a commuter city of 220,000 people with a thriving waterpark, leafy streets and a public lake
  • It is also home to the largest population of Afghan-Americans in the country Members of the Afghan-American community are expressing horror, sorrow and disbelief that one of their own could commit the worst mass shooting in modern US history.Omar Mateen, who slaughtered 49 people at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida, was born to Afghan immigrant parents.In Fremont, California, where people can buy prayer flags at the dollar store, fresh-baked Afghan bread at corner markets and feast on beef kabobs in ‘little Kabul’s’ many restaurants, Afghan-Americans are angry.

    Fremont is a commuter city of 220,000 people with a thriving waterpark, leafy streets and a public lake. It is also home to the largest population of Afghan-Americans in the country.

    In this Monday, June 13, 2016 image taken from video, Bilal Miskeenyar is interviewed in Fremont, Calif. In Fremont, a Northern California city with the nation's largest population of Afghan-Americans, people are expressing anger, sorrow and disbelief that one of their own could commit the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Omar Mateen, who killed dozens of people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, was born to Afghan immigrant parents. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

    In this Monday, June 13, 2016 image taken from video, Bilal Miskeenyar is interviewed in Fremont, Calif. In Fremont, a Northern California city with the nation’s largest population of Afghan-Americans, people are expressing anger, sorrow and disbelief that one of their own could commit the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Omar Mateen, who killed dozens of people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, was born to Afghan immigrant parents. (AP Photo/Terry Chea)

    Bilal Miskeenyar, a 29-year-old musician from Fremont, believes the shooter was motivated by hatred, saying it’s anathema to Muslim and Afghan views

    Bilal Miskeenyar (pictured), a 29-year-old musician from Fremont, believes the shooter was motivated by hatred, saying it’s anathema to Muslim and Afghan views

    Omar Mateen (pictured) killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub and was born to Afghan immigrant parents

    Omar Mateen (pictured) killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub and was born to Afghan immigrant parents

    ‘Every single Afghan feels really horrible because so many innocent people were killed by a mad guy,’ said Waheed Momand, president of the Afghan Coalition, the largest nonprofit advocating for Afghan people in the US.

    It was a tragedy that brought Momand back 15 years, when the community realized the September 11 terror attacks were orchestrated by al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

    In last weekend’s shooting, Mateen’s motivations were not yet clear. Despite pledging support to the Islamic State group in a 911 call during the attack, other possible explanations could be mental illness and shame about his own sexuality, a divisive subject among a Muslim community that often shuns gays.

    ‘What motivated him doesn’t matter — it’s wrong and it’s very close to our hearts. We feel sorry for the victims, and we feel sorry for the pain of their families and their loved ones. The fact that this guy was from Afghan origin makes it even worse for us,’ Momand said.

    Federal authorities are investigating whether Mateen regularly went to the nightclub he attacked and had used gay dating apps.

    Bilal Miskeenyar, a 29-year-old musician from Fremont, believes the shooter was motivated by hatred, saying it’s anathema to Muslim and Afghan views.

    ‘Whether it was anti-homosexual or not, my religion, my people and my culture does not believe in such things,’ he said. ‘I think it was hateful, and I think it was a very hideous crime, and I think people should not judge (Afghan people) because of one bad apple.’

    From the markets with handmade meat kabobs to the stores stocked with traditional Afghan candies and nuts, some Afghan-Americans in Fremont say they don’t believe there will be a backlash against their community because of Mateen’s actions.

    ‘I have American customers, Mexican customers, Chinese customers, and everybody likes me,’ said Sardar Ghuss, a clerk at the Little Kabul Market. ‘I don’t have any problems. We all work together.’

    But at the Maiwand Market, where fresh bread comes out of the oven throughout the day, Mojgan Mohammad Parwes said she felt some fear Monday.

    ‘I was a little hesitant coming here today,’ said the 36-year-old mother of three who wears a hijab. ‘People are angry, and it’s understandable.’

    What’s more, those in her community are heartbroken, she said.

    An aerial view of the mass shooting scene at the Pulse nightclub is seen in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday

    An aerial view of the mass shooting scene at the Pulse nightclub is seen in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday

    ‘They’re very distraught,’ Parwes said. ‘Emotionally, they are not doing well.’

    Behind the market’s counter Monday, it was business as usual for Kais Karimi, a 33-year-old clerk at his family’s business. But his emotions were running high.

    ‘I feel terrible. Human lives are being lost regardless of age, religion, sexual orientation or anything like that,’ Karimi said. ‘It’s just sad that people are dying over the way that they think. Everybody has the right to live however they want and they should be left alone.’

    In the wake of Sunday’s shooting, Afghan Coalition members are meeting this week to plan an interfaith vigil or service, like they did after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

  •  13413716_512009742323207_2175112541457074390_nBusdriver.ca condemns this act of terrorism and show its respects to victims and relatives affected by this crime.
  • Courtesy of Courtesy of Mail on line

 

Appreciation day at Winnipeg Transit!

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On June the first, we had the opportunity to enjoy free food from Winnipeg Transit as a part of this awesome tradition which runs every year, Transit officers, maintenance crews, free smiles and volunteers were part of this event it’s a token of appreciation from Winnipeg Transit saying to its employees, THANKS FOR A JOB WELL DONE.

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13335804_1114921618568447_8078388114185721865_n13344641_1114921565235119_4497621603938984517_nMusic and good entertainment was excellent.  Thanks

 

Another Street car named Deception

ATU knows the story of streetcar projects gone wrong all too well. The latest is in Atlanta where state regulators have threatened to shut down the troubled streetcar unless the city resolves a slew of problems. The Georgia DOT has given Mayor Kasim Reed and MARTA’s embattled CEO Keith Parker until June 14, to submit plans to address 60 outstanding problems outlined in the reports. The problems with the $98 million streetcar system include poor maintenance procedures, inadequate staffing and a failure to properly investigate accidents. Once again a streetcar is diverting taxpayer money away from real transit that working people rely on into a boutique tourist loop meant only for “choice riders.” Read more.


Baltimore transit workers protest subway rats

Maryland Transit Administration workers, members of Local 1300, recently donned rat masks and handed out flyers asking subway passengers how they’d like it if they had rats in their office. MTA station managers experience this every day. Many have entire nests of rats sitting at their feet and will have to leave the station because it smells so bad and is a health risk. Despite years of complaints by workers and riders, MTA has refused to do anything to deal with this serious problem. Watch story.


Seattle bus drivers, King County Metro working to improve bus safety

Last year, there were 77 assaults on bus drivers, 12 on passengers, and 273 “lesser incidents” in Seattle. Local 587 is addressing this growing problem at their first-ever Metro bus operators’ safety summit with King County Metro. One solution proposed by the Local is giving drivers more leeway when it comes to pulling over – even if it means delaying the bus. Currently operators are told by dispatch to continue driving when an incident occurs. The Local also suggests body cameras to help protect drivers – especially when they’re getting on and off the bus. Read more.


Ottawa bus driver stepped in when Muslim woman was harassed

An Ottawa bus driver is being hailed for his bravery in defending a Muslim woman on his bus. A man on his bus started making disparaging remarks about her niqab/burqa and wouldn’t stop. “He kept calling me a freak and a terrorist. He even yelled at me to assimilate,” the woman said. Hearing the exchange driver Alain Charette quickly intervened, saying he’d called the cops. The man who had been harassing the woman quickly got off the bus. The Local 279 member said it was his duty to speak up. “Bigotry hurts people by lowering the humanity level of society,” he said. “Sitting idle is not an option.” Read more.


Report bus & maintenance safety issues on a ATU App

Broken mirrors, engine problems, defective steering, a malfunctioning air conditioner, oil spills, fire, and electrical hazards are just a few of the dangerous safety issues and working conditions that ATU members have reported on the ATU App. Now you too can help us to fight for your safety by reporting those safety violations. Just download the App to your smartphone and then go to the “Report Bus and Maintenance Safety Violations and Defects” page to fill out the form to report safety violations. Remember when filling out the form to please follow your transit agency’s cell phone policies while you are working. Download the ATU Mobile App.


Pledge to buy union-made in US

Did you know that for every $1 spent on American-made goods, an additional $1.32 is invested in the U.S. economy? We all know that union-made products are better quality, but they also support companies that provide good jobs for working people right here in the United States. Buying union is an easy choice and the right choice, but it does take extra time to check the label. Take the pledge to make the extra effort, because having each other’s back is what being a union member is all about. Sign the pledge here.


Fresno celebrates bus rapid transit construction

ATU members know well that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is the best way to improve public transit and ridership. BRT is a flexible, high-quality bus-based mode of transit that delivers fast, comfortable, and cost-effective service through dedicated lanes, with busways and stations typically aligned to the center of the road, off-board fare collection, and fast and frequent operations. The city of Fresno recognized this and is beginning construction on a new BRT line that will complement their current standard transit system. When it is completed next year, the 15.7-mile line will offer faster bus service linking downtown Fresno with nearby suburban communities. Read more.

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