Archive for January, 2018

Maryland bill would make assaulting a transit operator a felony

Transit worker assault is a growing epidemic across North America. In Maryland, one state legislator is taking action as attacks on DC-area bus operators went up in 2017. Del. Angela M. Angel has proposed a new bill to increase the penalty for attacking a transit operator to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. “House Bill 28 will give the same protections to transit workers that are already extended to law enforcement and emergency responders,” says Local 689-Washington, DC. “We understand that transit worker assaults are not only a danger to the workers, but also to the riding public, who are also placed in harm’s way when these incidents occur.”

Winnipeg Local blames province for proposed transit cuts

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Despite the Manitoba government’s own climate change plan calling investments in public transit crucial to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the Brandon City Council recently voted to cut funding for public transit and the city of Winnipeg may do the same. The city councils call the cutbacks necessary because of a lack of funding from Manitoba Governor Brian Pallister’s administration. And Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, agrees. “If you’re a student, worker or parent in Brandon who relies on transit, the Pallister government’s cuts are going to make life more difficult,” says Local President Aleem Chaudhary, who called on residents to contact local politicians to voice their concerns on the issue.

AC Transit drivers push for more protection after shooting

Dealing with angry, drunk and even violent riders has become part of the job for most bus drivers, including AC Transit operators in the Bay Area in California. However, when someone recently shot out the back window of a bus, Local 192-Oakland, CA, decided “enough is enough.” The Local, representing some 1,600 drivers and mechanics, is demanding better safety standards through grievance and, possibly, arbitration, as past requests to the transit agency have fallen on deaf ears. Local 192 is one of the more than 140 Locals that have passed the resolution to fix the bus driver workstation to prevent driver blind spot accidents, assaults on bus drivers, exhaust fumes in buses, ergonomically poor bus driver seats, and more.

Connecticut Locals join with allies to demand state address transit funding shortfall

Public transportation in Connecticut is facing a serious funding crisis as the state’s Special Transportation Fund (STF) needs to find $1 billion over the next five years or the state will have to cut public transit and road programs, and raise bus and rail fares. ATU’s Connecticut Locals took action to demand that the state address this problem that is critical to the economic future of the state. Locals 281-New Haven, 425-Hartford, 443-Stamford, 1209-New London, 1336-Bridgeport, 1622-Danbury and 1763-Rocky Hill joined with business, community, and transit allies to meet with ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker to express their concerns and offer solutions. “We move Connecticut. The proud members of the ATU, who are the eyes and ears of transit in Connecticut on a daily basis, join with our riders and allies in support of increased funding for public transit,” said Local 1209 President Jaroslaw Pizunski.

Denver Local calls for better protection in wake of gunfire


Recently a gunfight broke out near the state capitol in Denver and Regional Transit District (RTD) bus drivers say this is an ongoing dangerous problem that sometimes happens inside the buses including a violent incident where a passenger was shot on a bus in August. In response, Local 1001-Denver, CO, is demanding better protection for bus drivers. “We need more security, it’s just out of control,” said one RTD driver. “We get cussed out all the time. Some people are always fighting, and some get on the bus drunk. We have no protection.” The Local recently passed the Workstation resolution calling on RTD, bus manufacturers, and elected officials to fix the bus driver workstation to improve the safety and health of drivers, riders, pedestrians.

A Local 113-Toronto, ON, bus driver goes above & beyond

Last month Local 113-Toronto, ON, bus driver Domenic Gouveia was driving his regular route when he noticed an older man sitting in a bus shelter. Gouveia realized something wasn’t quite right as the man had only a light coat on despite the cold day. He asked the man where he needed to go and the man replied, “I don’t know.” Domenic invited the man on his bus to get warm and noticed a bruise on his eye and cut on his finger. He drove the man on his route to see if he recognized anything, but the man didn’t. He was about to call transit control when he texted his wife to see if the news said anyone was missing. She told him yes, an older man with dementia was reported missing, and she sent him a photo of the man. Domenic immediately recognized it was that man and called transit control. He then waited with the man until the police arrived to help. ATU salutes for Dominick for his actions.

Cincinnati Local says agency unloading unused bus parts

Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) bus garage workers thought it was strange that the transit agency was asking them to throw away perfectly good bus parts. It turns out it was more than 4,000 parts worth over $800,000. Local 627-Cincinnati, OH, is asking why SORTA is doing this as Metro is facing a $150 million deficit over the next decade and fare increases and service cuts are likely. I was just amazed that this is going on,” said Local President Troy Miller, pointing out that those parts may one day be needed for a fleet with buses upwards of 12 years old. “If our guys don’t have parts, they can’t fix the buses, and if the buses aren’t going out on the road, bottom line, it affects the customer and the taxpayer.”

Milwaukee bus driver helps woman in labor

Local 998-Milwaukee, WI, bus driver Tayetta Currin got quite the Christmas surprise when she was working on Christmas Eve. On her route, Currin noticed a woman walking on a snowy sidewalk who looked like she needed help. She pulled over and the woman told her she was going into labor. As the mother of two young boys, Currin sprang into action helping the woman onto her bus with the help of two passengers “It was shocking. I had to think quick,” Currin said. “I know how it is with contractions. I just told her to stay in the seat because she was sliding off and told her the paramedics were coming right away.” Eventually they did and took the woman to the hospital. This is not the first time Currin has jumped into action. A year ago, a middle-aged woman was shot during a robbery and flagged down Currin’s bus for help.

Stay Warm on The Job in Freezing Cold!

 

ATU members rarely get “snow days.” And so, even though dangerous, freezing temperatures are gripping North America, our members are on the job, safely transporting riders in these hazardous weather conditions.

A preview of the US without pensions

Tom Coomer has retired twice. Each time he realized that his Social Security check wouldn’t cut it. So, at 79, Tom is working full-time at Walmart. The way major U.S. companies provide for retiring workers has been shifting for about three decades, with more dropping traditional pensions every year. The first full generation of workers to retire since this turn of events will soon show workers what they can expect as part of a labor force dependent on their own savings for retirement. Years ago, Coomer worked for airplane maker McDonnell Douglas with a company pension, but in 1994 the company closed the plant. While most of his co-workers found new jobs, they could never replace their lost pension benefits, and many are facing financial struggles: one in seven have filed for bankruptcy, faced liens for delinquent bills, or both, according to public records.

With assaults on bus drivers up, Ottawa Local pushes for protective driver shields

With more than 100 assaults on Ottawa bus drivers in 2017, compared to 87 in 2016, Local 279-Ottawa, ON, is renewing its call for bus driver protective shields. “I am at the point where I just feel it’s unacceptable,” says Local President Clint Crabtree. “People need to be going home to their families without being assaulted at work.” The Ottawa Local is one of the more than 130 Locals that have passed the resolution to call on transit agencies and elected officials to fix the bus driver workstation. The Local has joined other Canadian Locals in lobbying parliament to push for safer bus driver workstations.

Let’s propose this as the new US national anthem

In 1979, the Chrysler Corporation was in financial trouble. High gasoline prices, lagging auto sales, and international competition had led the automaker to the brink of bankruptcy. In response, Congress passed The Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979to allow the federal government to guarantee $1.5 billion in loans to Chrysler. It also provided an additional $2 billion in “commitments or concessions,” which could be used by Chrysler for the financing of its operations. Sound familiar? In a 1983 WNYC broadcast, Tom Paxton sang a live version of “I’m Changing My Name to Chrysler,’ a whimsical and biting commentary on the financial troubles of the auto industry and how the government bailed them out. Maybe that should be the new U.S. national anthem with the GOP tax plan rewarding corporate America while working people lose.

Nashville media Is getting played by transit-bashing hired guns

From Albuquerque to Atlanta to Charlotte, the right-wing Cato Institute has a knack for opposing nearly every local debate over transit expansion, arguing against investments in rail and bus service. Now they have their sights set on Nashville, TN, which will vote on a $5.2 billion transit expansion plan in May. And the Nashville media have bought their shtick – hook, line and sinker. However, transit advocates say Mayor Megan Barry’s plan with five light rail lines totaling 26 miles – 25 miles of bus rapid transit, a 1.8-mile transit tunnel to bypass downtown congestion, and system wide bus improvements is solid and plan to fight hard to get it passed.

Win an ATU jacket like Raymond Vandervort, 1145-Binghamton, NY

Want a chance to win a cool ATU jacket like Raymond? It’s easy and will help you stay warm this winter. All you have to do is go to http://www.atu.org/, go to the bottom bar of the homepage and sign up to receive ATU email action alerts on the latest news and developments on ATU, public transportation, politics and other important issues. To enter the drawing, simply provide your e-mail, local number and zip/postal code. If you have already submitted your email you’re still signed up for the contest, simply click “Skip and Continue to Website.”

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