“Behind Janus is the coordinated attack on labor rights by the Koch brothers, other billionaires, and the anti-worker groups they back like the National Right to Work Foundation and Americans for Prosperity,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley in reaction to this week’s Supreme Court’s decision on Janus vs. AFCME, Council 31. “They want every minute of American life to be spent toiling under the bosses’ thumb. They don’t believe in democracy or the rights of the individual worker.” Hanley pointed out ATU has been preparing for the Janusdecision over the course of this past year with trainings to rediscover our roots and strengthen ATU locals. “Their power play has awoken a sleeping giant – organized labor. The labor movement has historically been at its strongest when under attack, and this is the greatest assault in a generation,” Hanley continued.

Tips to stay safe in the summer heat

It’s almost July and temperatures are soaring, and many of our members will face dangerously hot and humid conditions on the job over the next few months. In order to ensure your health and safety make sure the check out the ATU bulletin on Heat Stress Safety for tips on how to be prepared to deal with the summer heat. This bulletin can be downloaded here in English, Spanish, and French. Be sure to share these with your brothers and sisters at your Local.

Baltimore Local warned of unsafe Metro tracks for several years before emergency shutdown

Baltimore Sun Maryland Public Information Act request showed that Local 1300-Baltimore, MD, warned the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) of rail safety concerns on Metro SubwayLink more than two years before the agency suddenly shut the entire system down for a month. In June of 2016, MTA and the Local visited a subway station uncovering more safety issues. Less than a month later the MTA announced a partial system shutdown. Days later Local President David McClure wrote to MTA officials that despite the union’s due diligence to inform the agency of safety concerns nothing has been done. “At best, the current approach being pursued is a result of complacency,” he wrote. “At worse [sic], it seems aimed at guiding the system into an unnecessary state of crisis that could be leveraged to justify political objectives like privatization or further divestment from Baltimore City’s transportation system.

Restroom ‘Nightmare’: CT transit drivers
to rally for better access

Connecticut bus operators angry over the lack of bathroom breaks, rallied to demand CT Transit and the state DOT to make more safe, clean restroom facilities available on all routes. The rally comes in the wake of a firestorm over a video of a bus operator reliving himself on the side of a busy road. To avoid having to use the bathroom on the job many bus drivers won’t drink water or eat before or during their work shifts. Others have resorted to wearing diapers so they can avoid having an embarrassing accident while in the driver’s seat. “I can tell you from my own experience many times I had to pull the bus over and pee behind the back tire,” said Local 281-New Haven, CT, President Ralph Buccitti. “It’s a serious problem. We’ve tried to negotiate to get access to bathrooms. We are bargaining for a basic human right: to use the bathroom.” Other CT Locals participating in the rally were 425-Hartford, 443-Stamford, 1209-New London, Local 1336-Bridgeport, 1622-Danbury and 1763-Rocky Hill.

ATU NJ calls on State Assembly to pass Governor’s budget to fund public transit

ATU NJ members are engaged in an aggressive campaign to demand that the New Jersey Democratic led Legislature pass Governor Chris Murphy’s proposed budget which provides critical funding for NJ Transit and increases taxes on the wealthy. The campaign has targeted NY State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who have proposed a budget that does not include Murphy’s proposed increase in the state sales tax to 7 percent or a “millionaires tax” to raise money for transit. During his tenure former Gov. Chris Christie raised fares twice while cutting state transit funding, leaving NJ Transit in shambles. ATU NJ Local members have been out in full force at transit stops, rallies and other public events urging NJ Transit riders and others to call Sweeney and Coughlin to urge them to pass Gov. Murphy’s budget.

Silicon Valley bus drivers forced to
sleep in parking lots

Bus driver Adan Miranda hauls people across Silicon Valley every day. But rather than commute 100 miles home each night to a Sacramento suburb he is sleeping in a San Jose parking lot provided by his employer, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Miranda and most of his fellow bus drivers and mechanics can’t afford to live in the Bay Area. But Miranda and his co-workers may not be able to sleep in the parking lot soon because VTA is planning to sell it off in an attempt to raise revenue. “We feel the program is an unfortunate condition of the times we live in,” said John Courtney, Local 265-San Jose, CA, who represents the VTA workers. ATU demands that VTA workers be paid so they can live in the community they serve.

The Story of “Micro Transit”
is consistent, dismal failure

For years “micro transit” was being touted as the next big thing in urban transportation. “Micro transit” is a mobile app-based service that functions like UberPool or LyftLine but with large vans or minibuses to match passengers making similar trips in a single vehicle. But so far it has flopped and miserably so. Case and point is now-bankrupt Bridj in Kansas City. Six months in to its partnership with Kansas City’s transit agency, the Bridj vans had only provided fewer than 600 rides, far short of the 200 per day that was initially projected. Despite this failure and countless others, at least 24 transit agencies are expected to initiate micro transit contracts this year. ATU encourages these cities to come to their senses and realize funds would be better spent investing in their current public transit systems.