FROM YOUR UNION PRESIDENT

A few months ago we lost some members at our Longview (River Cities) property which has created a shortage of River Cities Transit Operators. Some of the most senior Operators incurred some drastically changed runs/assignments. With the changes came a lot of tension and frustrations as a loss of, or feeling of a loss of seniority will make you feel. However the Union felt that a member of River Cities management was pointing his finger the wrong way when trying to pin “mutually agreed upon” contractual language between the City and ATU Local 758 as the reason for such angst. He seemed the most upset because the Union negotiated a 40 hour work week for the Operators as opposed to 32 hours plus! Bet he gets paid for 40. I shot his bosses a clarification memo suggesting that perhaps “they” (management) should have a sit down with the Operators whose frustrations encompassed many things. Hope they do it. I think it will go a long ways toward settling things down.

 

The new Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA)s should have been distributed by this time or are in the process of distribution. If you have not received a copy of the agreement let a Shop steward or Union Office/Officer know and we’ll get one to you.

 

We will start negotiating the parameters of the Washington Paid Sick Leave (WPSL) February 6th and 7th. Some members believe the memo distributed by Pierce Transit was the result of negotiations between the Union and agency. It was not. It will only be after both parties reach consensus that the final product will be produced.
The leadership receives a lot of questions in regards to member representation when they are performing transitional duty which is usually the result of an On-Job-Injury (OJI). Many members think we know when they have been injured.  We do not. Injuries unless disclosed by the member to the leadership, stewards or other Union representatives are unbeknown to the Union. The reasons we do not know about injuries incurred by members are that said injuries, medical treatment and diagnosis, are covered by HIPPA or privacy laws. If you think about it you may not want everyone to know your personal medical condition. But I think, no I know, the biggest questions you the members have are; how much control does the Union have over the working conditions. We cannot control the working conditions of an injured worker. Said individuals’ working conditions have been established by a healthcare provider. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), what is negotiable and what we have negotiated is the amount of supplemental pay, sick leave accruals, limitations on payments, forfeiture of supplemental payments, home visits etc. When you become an injured worker and when performing transitional duty you then work under the parameters or guidelines set forth by your physician(s) or provider(s) for release to the duty. Risk management which runs the transitional duty program is then obligated to find work for you that does not exceed nor violate the restrictions as set forth by your physician or provider. There should not be an expectation that you work overtime or more than an 8 hour shift, nor should there be an expectation that you perform tasks that may exacerbate your injury. But working transitional duty and for a self-insured employer has not been without its challenges. If you are on transitional duty and have problems with your claim you may contact the Office of the Self-Insured Ombudsman and the Department of Labor & Industries 1-888-317-0493. Many members encountering issues have contacted the Office with positive results.

 

There were some snafus in regards to Operators moving up during the end of November and December. It appears it has all been straightened out. One thing of note however, was that the Dispatch Manager stated to many that the Union was the reason for a line shake-up that occurred. Yes it was because that is what the contract dictated. This particular Manager jumped the gun in regards to changes that should not have occurred until January 1, 2018. Yep, it was totally her screw up. Unfortunately and she’s known for this; after being informed by the Union of her “faux pas” she informed everyone (Dispatchers and Operators ) of her actions to correct the snafu but neglected to inform the Union, which found out second hand. This gave her a chance to do her favorite thing; slam the Union for her screw up behind our backs. It’s her “modus operando”. Effective January 1, 2018 line shake-ups will be eliminated and Operators moving to a fulltime position will go to the Fulltime Extra Board. In regards to a rumor; when an Operator moves to an Extra Board position, he she picks his/her day off. That would be per Article 24 – Scheduling – Operators Paragraph G. Extra Board Operators paragraph 1 b. If you have issues in regards to the (CBA) re: your bidding rights and she’s telling you something ……. if you are unsure of her interpretation please contact a Shop Steward or Union Officer.

 

During the March Shake-up the Union in collaboration with Pierce Transit is looking at the possibility of the “return” of “tripper” packages. Said packages in the past were signed by Relief Transit Operators (RTO)s per their seniority ranking if he/she was interested. For those newer Relief Transit Operators not familiar with the packages, these packages gave at least those able to sign them by their RTO seniority, some consistency in their lives an example being a set start and end time to their workdays, and a consistent work schedule. We had looked at, or rather had an interest during the last contract negotiations of having both 30 and 40 hour work, however the agency in accepting the proposal “with their own twist” wanted to create 30 hour packages but with any fulltime work (40 hours) left not signed during the Shake-up, divided into “part-time” pieces of work. No thanks; this was a forbearer to the disintegration of the 40 hour work week and a hindrance to a desire for an Operator to move up into a fulltime position. The work consisted of an AM and PM tripper. Of course the “trippers” would also have to adhere to CDL, DOT regulations, and the CBA in regards to rest periods between off and start times. In the past the Relief Operators loved them. While there are 31AM trippers and 13PM trippers we will endeavor to make as many as possible. Maybe it will be possible to sign at least the same tripper everyday being that there will only be 13PM trippers. Personally (although it may be disputed by others), I know the rotating and or inconsistent scheduling is a problem. However even having “one” designated start time on a daily basis is better than nothing. I have always tried to impress upon PT management the importance of scheduling when it comes to consistent rest vs fatigue and “I” believe it is a precursor to accidents/incidents. We’ll see what shakes out.

 

Last month Transit Operator Neil Ward who actually just moved into a fulltime Operator position showed interest in and was accepted to fill the vacant Relief Operator position on your ATU Local 758 Executive Board. Neil will be instrumental in bringing the concerns of the Relief Operators to the attention of the Union leadership. One concern he has already expressed in regards to the Reliefs is the need for more training in regards to detour routing and length of split shifts. Training may address one; however the “nature of the beast” in regards to our type of work is AM and PM people movement. If you have other concerns and see Neil around, let him know of them. Of course, if there is anything else you have a concern with, feel free to contact any Union representative or this office.
At our Longview (River Cities) property Transit Operator Shawnda Hurley has volunteered and been selected to fill the 2nd fixed route Transit Operator Shop Steward position. Shawnda does bring some previous knowledge of the position and it is our hope that along with our other fixed route Shop Steward Fran Nicholson and Paratransit Shop Steward Tony Harris that our members’ needs are addressed in a timely and sufficient manner. Welcome aboard Shawnda and thanks for “coming back” Fran and Tony.

 

The Union has received reports of “gaseous fumes on some of the coaches from Operators. If you smell the fumes request a bus change ASAP. It has been stated by some individuals in managerial positions that the fumes are at safe levels. What? Fumes at safe levels……they’re fumes! You’re not supposed to smell fumes period, or there would not be filters, fittings or apparatuses to reduce the likelihood of them occurring. That is like saying I‘ll run a hose from my exhaust in through my truck window, but it won’t be a problem or at an unsafe level……..until I pass out. Operators have higher instances of respiratory ailments. Why? Because it wasn’t or isn’t a one-time exposure it is the exposure over a longer period of time. A few years ago a Safety Officer put an article in the “Buzz” showing the amount of exhaust a normal person sucks down while operating their automobiles in traffic. It was a lot but the subjects were commuters. They did not operate a coach all day or sit idling in traffic and sucking down fumes for a living. I’ll have to find that article and reprint it.

 

Be Safe. Take Care of You and Yours, Isaac