ATU International wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. members filled with peace, joy and a great meal. And as you do your last-minute shopping please make sure you have a union-made Thanksgiving. You can this do by checking the list of union-made in America food and other items essential to a traditional Thanksgiving feast that also support our sisters and brothers in the labor movement.
Can talking buses save pedestrians’ lives? No says ATU
Locals gear up to fight right-to-work at Everett, WA training
An ATU hero in Cincinnati, OH
Guelph transit workers & city ratify new collective agreement
Local 568-Erie, PA, member Jake Schwab died in 2014, when a suspension air bag in a bus he was working on exploded in his face. Schwab, a mechanic, was working with the wrong tools on an unfamiliar bus from another agency. There was no investigation of his death because he was a public employee. There had been no safety training in Jake’s garage for over nine years. A Harrisburg, PA, billboard has been put up as part of an aggressive campaign to push for passage of the Jake Schwab Worker’s Safety bill (H.B.1082) to ensure OSHA-equivalent on-the-job safety rules for public employers. There will be a hearing on the bill in the Pennsylvania legislature on December 5.
Joe, the bus driver, & Jane, the bus rider, ‘take it on the chin’ with Trump tax scheme
“On behalf of Joe, the bus driver, and Jane, the bus rider, we condemn the House of Representatives’ passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R.1) – the most outrageous money grab in the history of our country that will destroy what is left of the American middle class,” says International President Larry Hanley. The bill, Hanley continues, would end the state and local tax deduction, making it impossible for Joe to make ends meet and save for his kids’ college. And Jane, who takes public transit because current law provides her with a tax benefit for taking public transit to work, loses too. H.R. 1 removes the option for employers to deduct the cost of public transit benefits. So Jane’s boss is pulling out of the program and she may have to walk the five miles to her job. “We call on the Senate to be the voice of reason and reject this ill-advised, heartless bill for Joe and Jane – the real people of America,” says Hanley.
Peoria, IL, paratransit workers authorize strike
Frustrated by an unfair contract offer by management, CityLift workers, the paratransit service of Peoria, IL’s CityLink transit system, have authorized a strike by a near unanimous vote. “We hope this gets management to realize that the employees are serious. They are not playing around and they want a good contract for the service that they do,” says Local President Ronald Cox, 416-Peoria, IL, which represents over 60 CityLift drivers, dispatchers, maintenance and utility workers. CityLift drivers are the lowest paid workers in their area with starting pay of $10.50 an hour, while CityLink bus drivers start at about $18 an hour. It is only the third time in 27 years the Local has held such a strike authorization vote.
Make your Thanksgiving union-made
As you and your family get ready to do your final Thanksgiving shopping, make sure you’ll have a union-made Thanksgiving. You can this do by checking the list of Thanksgiving food and holiday items produced by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); Machinists (IAM); United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW); and United Steelworkers (USW).
Metro Transit Workers reject contract, authorize Super Bowl strike
Rejecting the latest contract offer from Metro Transit, the members of Local 1005-Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, authorized a strike for the days leading up to Super Bowl LII, in the Twin Cities next year. Expanding hours for part-time work, and driver safety and security are among the major sticking points in the contract dispute, which has been going on since May. “We are very serious,” says Local President Mark Lawson. “Driving a city bus is one of the hardest jobs in America. We have members who are routinely punched, spit on, or assaulted in other ways.” The Local is also pushing for an improved workstation including bus shields to protect the drivers. Lawson says there is still time to reach a deal before the Super Bowl.
TriMet workers reach tentative agreement
Nearly a year after their contract expired, Local 757-Portland, OR, and TriMet have reached a tentative deal. The new contract includes a 3% raise for all employees, retroactive to December 2016, and 3.25% annual raises over the next two years. It also includes bigger pay increases for service workers who clean and fuel buses. A key sticking point had been the agency’s proposal to use outside contractors to overhaul aging MAX trains. “We finally cleared the dust, and here we are,” says Local President Shirley Block, pointing out they had reached an agreement on the issue and that the agency made several concessions for the Local. The negotiations which had dragged on for over five months were followed by several mediation sessions.
It’s being repeatedly, talk about the danger of crossing that block located in the core of Winnipeg Downtown, recently one pedestrian jaywalking (Which is not illegal in Manitoba) died after being hit by a public Transit bus, the collision occurred around 1430 CT, this past Monday afternoon, the writer, a former operator of Winnipeg Transit had mentioned the risk of that several times to the Local Union 1505 and also to city councils about the dangers and risks about this block located at Graham and Fort Street, the question is politics always work after serious incidents occurred even though they were warned. Let’s talk about this seriously, the operator of the bus won’t be the same after this traumatic event regardless of who was at fault. It is very important to see safety in a different prospect not only for the public but also for operators who risk their lives every single day, if politicians thing that this matter doesn’t attract more votes then is time to see if you’re working just the status quo or for your people.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) contradicted its own focus groups of drivers and federal inspectors at their recent hearing on a fatal 2016 California bus crash. The focus groups exposed the lack of sleep of motorcoach drivers due to employer pressure to work. “The NTSB just buried this research and said ‘oh it’s just a medical problem – driver sleep apnea – causing driver fatigue and we need better testing of drivers,’” says International President Larry Hanley. “It’s the highest form of negligence, putting peoples’ lives at risk.” Hanley called for passage of the recently introduced Driver Fatigue Prevention Act. “It’s time for the government to extend the labor protections most other workers get to intercity bus drivers and fairly compensate them for overtime work in this safety-sensitive industry,” said Hanley.
Peterborough Local ratifies strong contract
Averting a possible strike, members of Local 1320-Peterborough, ON, overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new contract. The Local which represents 107 drivers and garage staff, was in a legal strike position and had been negotiating with the city for a new contract since the spring. The city also approved the agreement. The new contract includes pay increases and improvements in health care, work conditions and other benefits.
NY voters reject ballot proposal on state constitutional convention
ATU Locals across the state of New York joined organized labor and allies across the state to declare victory as voters on November 7, soundly rejected the anti-worker ballot proposal to hold a constitutional convention to amend the state’s constitution. The Locals waged an aggressive campaign against the proposal which would have put important labor protections, pensions and other rights of New York workers on the chopping block.
38-year old OC Transpo bus operator starts on college basketball team
Local 279-Ottawa, ON, member Dan Stoddard is 38, and a full-time bus operator, but amazingly his college basketball career has just begun. Stoddard’s nearly impossible journey started when he played in his annual high school alumni game. By chance the referee happened to be the coach of a local college team and jokingly told Stoddard, “Hey man, you could play for me.” Stoddard enrolled in the college, got in shape and made the team. His family attends every game wearing “Old Man Dan Fan Club” T-shirts to cheer him on. Stoddard also became an ATU hero last year helping an Ottawa woman flee an assault.
Nashville Local on taskforce to set course for city’s transit plan
A taskforce has been launched to identify strategies and policies for the proposed $5.2 billion transit plan for Nashville, and transit workers’ and riders’ voices will be heard. Local President Patrick Green, 1235-Nashville, TN, will serve as a taskforce member. The transit plan includes the city’s first light rail system and an underground tunnel. The Local is also a member of the People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing and Employment (PATHE), a coalition of transit workers, renters, bus riders, unhoused people, construction workers, and other concerned residents committed to affordable housing, good jobs, and immediate improvements to transit.
As bus ridership sinks, advocates look for ways to lure commuters back
With bus ridership decreasing and travel time increasing across the country, bus-only lanes, all-door boarding, and increased funding for service are among the recommendations in a new report from the Active Transportation Alliance, an advocacy group for transit, walking and biking. The report says buses are appealing because they are less expensive and better for the environment than cars. And improving bus service is cheaper and easier than adding more rail routes. As for all-door boarding, International President Hanley expressed skepticism since it would both create another choke point for getting on the bus and would encourage cheaters. He said the best way to speed up buses is to collect fares outside the bus and create more bus rapid transit routes.