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“Throughout this politically divisive and bruising midterm election season in the U.S., we are proud of the role ATU members across the country played to mobilize transit riders to vote and elect more diverse, pro-transit, and pro-worker candidates,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley. It was also a good election for public transit, with 85% of transportation-related ballot measures succeeding, including initiatives in Connecticut and Florida. “We pledge to continue to fight for better public transit, healthcare for all Americans, the right for workers to have a voice in the workplace as the assault on the middle class across the United States continues.” Read statement.
After a recent stabbing of a Winnipeg bus rider and new data showing 126 violent incidents on buses or near stops in 2017, including 62 this year, Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, is renewing its call to the new city council to make bus safety a number one priority. “It’s getting out of hand, so it needs to be controlled before it gets any further than what it is. Hopefully, we don’t have another homicide on our hands. We don’t need that. We need to have a better and safer work environment for our operators and for the passengers,” Local President Aleem Chaudhary said. “This mayor and council have to accept the responsibility to ensure safety is the top priority for transit.” The Local says the number of incidents is actually higher than reports suggest, because some drivers don’t want to deal with the protocols of reporting and lesser offenses like verbal abuse or spitting don’t get reported. Read more.
In the wake of a pedestrian being killed in a crosswalk collision with a bus, Philadelphia bus operators say larger driver side mirrors create a dangerous blind spot that leads to these deadly crashes. However, an internal memo at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) revealed that agency leaders believe the blind spot is an “acceptable risk.” They deny their buses are unsafe or that the mirror is responsible for any crashes. “In my estimation there could be a thousand close calls a day out there,” said a former SEPTA bus driver. Their union, TWU, started warning SEPTA about their concerns as far back as 2004. ATU Locals across the country have been engaged in a campaign to persuade transit agencies to change the bus design to prevent these blind spot crashes. Read more.
Emotions ran high as NYC school drivers held a spirited rally ahead of resuming contract talks between Local 1181-New York, NY, and their private contractor, Pioneer Bus Transportation Corporation. The Local has already had 10 negotiating sessions, but key issues remain, including wages that have been stagnant for more than five years. “We love those kids, we want to take them to school,” said driver Edurado Rojas. Members say they don’t want to strike, because it would adversely impact school kids and families, but management may leave them no other option. “All we want is a fair contract and a fair negotiation,” said Local Executive Board Member Ed Maione. Read more.
In a victory for TTC worker job security, an arbitrator has awarded Local 113-Toronto, ON, a new three-year contract that blocks the transit agency from stripping job-security protections. “Toronto’s hardworking public transit workers are pleased with the new collective agreement, which recognizes our vital role in the communities,” said Local President Frank Grimaldi. The Local has been waging an aggressive campaign against the Ontario PC Government’s plan to upload the TTC. Grimaldi said the union expects the provisions of the award will prevent contracting out services “irrespective of whether the subway is sold or otherwise transferred to another entity, including the province.” Read more.
It’s been four years since Caesar Rosales was killed commuting home on a Kelowna bus on October 30, 2014. To mark that sad day, Kelowna operators wore black ribbons and took a moment of silence to remember Rosales, a regular bus rider. Scott Lovell, president of Local 1722-Kelowna, BC, said at the time of the first black ribbon event, “We’re not Vancouver or some big city where this is something you would expect to happen.” Since the tragic murder, the Local has successfully pushed BC Transit to install bus driver shields and cameras for the protection of bus operators and passengers. Read more.