Local 1596

CT local demands adequate bathroom breaks

Jaroslaw Pizunski, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1209, tried to present a petition of almost 600 signatures of bus riders to the SEAT board of directors at its regular meeting Wednesday, but was rejected. "They wouldn't let me speak. They said it was a labor-management issue," Pizunski said. The petition asks SEAT management to provide restroom facilities on all routes and adequate time on the clock to use them during every shift. Pizunski said drivers currently have to find businesses that are willing to let the SEAT buses park for several minutes and let the driver use their facilities. Or, they just have to "hold it," he said. "I have drivers asking me, is it okay to wear a diaper to work," he said. The drivers can use a restroom in a small indoor kiosk at the Norwich Transportation Center, but it only is available and open at limited times, they said. The employees say they've repeatedly asked SEAT management to make arrangements for the facility to be available at all times for the drivers to use. "Drivers are on the road from 5:30 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. We also operate seven days a week," Pizunski said. SEAT leases part of the center from Norwich for its operation. Restrooms are available there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and some hours on Saturday, but not Sunday.Employees have asked SEAT management to reach out to local businesses to see if they would be willing to accommodate the drivers, and to give the drivers a list of "friendly" places they can go. "We're still waiting for these things to happen," Pizunski said. "We've been asking for years. The transportation center's been open for two years, and still nothing." SEAT General Manager Michael J. Carroll said the organization is working with Norwich officials to provide private, full-time access to facilities at the transit center. "We're on the cusp of doing it," he said. Carroll estimated that after-hours access would be available by mid-July. There is a portable toilet on site, but it's not OSHA compliant because it has no running water, Carroll said. He also said there are places along the routes where drivers can take a break, such as at fast food restaurants and retailers. "SEAT has been around for 30 years," he said. "I'm pretty sure drivers haven't been holding it for 30 years. You find places to go." Read more: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/article/20140625/News/140629641#ixzz36PkAr0P7

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