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Locals on passage of the resolution and the fight for an improved workstation

“Members were well in favor of the resolution at our union meeting. Blind spots are a big problem for our drivers, a few drivers have been written up for near misses that were caused by blind spots. We have new buses, but they didn’t address the serious problem of the corner post/ A-pillar and the mirrors. Many members have also complained about roaches and bugs on our buses. They put toxic powder on the buses to kill the roaches, but the powder ends up in the bus ventilation system and in the air and falls on the surface of the driver compartment, which our members are breathing in while they work. The members have also developed several illnesses over the years, knee and hip problems, breathing conditions, type two diabetes, colitis, heart and kidney problems.”

Ed Avila, president/business agent
Local 313–Rock Island, IL


“All the members of our Local were very receptive and supportive of the resolution. There was more than 45 minutes of great discussion on the resolution and members expressed serious concerns with blind spots and no protection on our buses if a rider comes on with a knife or other weapon. Even though we operate in a smaller city that doesn’t have as many problems as larger cities, it’s just a matter of time until an assault on a driver happens. It was made clear, as President Hanley has told all Locals, that American bus companies are decades behind in safety of buses and don’t want to address these problems.”

Kevin McGee, president/business agent
Local 164–Wilkes-Barre, PA


“The resolution was received well by the members. Our executive board was very enthusiastic about passing it. Mechanics in our Local were very rejoiceful because the air quality on the new coaches is just as bad as it was in the old coaches. They said it’s about time to look out for drivers. Blind spots have also been a big issue as our Local has lost a number of arbitrations on the issue. So, the members were in favor of those changes. The female drivers were very supportive of the retractable bus shields for protection from riders because currently our buses have no shields.”

Ronald Jackson, president/business agent
Local 268–Cleveland, OH


“We’ve been having many issues concerning our bus workstation. Fumes inside our buses have been a major problem. Our vice president in maintenance said it is a problem with the way our current buses, which are very old, circulate air. We’ve also had way too many attacks on our operators including numerous incidents where our members were spit on and punched. Three or four years ago, we asked the agency about installing Plexiglas shields for protection, but nothing has happened. Our buses have huge blind spots because of the A-pillar and side mirrors. About 7-8 years ago we had a tragic blind spot accident where a child was killed. So, when the resolution was brought before our members, it passed overwhelmingly. Our members wanted to be supportive of the International’s efforts on this. Now we hope for action to fix the workstation.”

Ismael Rivera, president/business agent
Local 1596–Orlando, FL


“Before our Local meeting started, we had the Workstation Initiative posters and the In Transit that focused on the campaign on the tables where our members would sit. When the meeting began and the resolution was introduced, we made reference to the issues covered in the magazine. The point was made that while not all the workstation issues and problems – bugs, fumes and others – are affecting our members, it is impacting our brothers and sisters in Locals in the U.S. and Canada and we have to support them. This is about everyone in ATU coming together for a common cause. Then we voted on the resolution and it passed unanimously.”

Gersham Flynn, president/business agent
Local 1763–Rocky Hill, CT


“It was well received by our membership. Our biggest discussion was about the bus design and the A-pillar causing the blind spots. Also, many drivers asked what we had for ideas on what to use for driver’s seats in place of what is currently available. Lastly the membership who showed up from the maintenance department wanted to know what ideas we had to reconfigure the exhaust and intake on the buses.”

Thomas Leighty, president/business agent
Local 1015–Spokane, WA


“All our members are for a safer, healthier workstation on our buses especially protective shields to reduce the vicious assaults that happen all too often. Also, the bus driver workstation needs to be more ergonomically correct. We see management at TransLink being measured for office chairs, but not the bus drivers, who are many different sizes, heights and shapes and spend more time in our seats. Many of our bus drivers have had back problems, shoulder issues and other ailments due to poor seats. It is very hard to get TransLink to buy the best buses, the one produced by Mercedes, because they are too expensive and instead purchase the cheapest bus possible to save money. Our membership passed the resolution with strong support at our August meeting.”

Geoffrey Devlin, president/business agent
Local 134–Vancouver, BC


“Our members approved the workstation resolution unanimously. It was very well received and the sentiment from the floor was that this resolution was long overdue. In Hamilton over the past four years we’ve been getting NOVA buses and prior to that New Flyer buses. Both of these companies produce buses that have the most egregious issues and problems with the bus driver workstations – blind spots, exhaust and ventilation issues, no bus shields, and poor ergonomically designed seat/suspension.”

Eric Tuck, president/business agent
Local 107–Hamilton, ON


“The resolution was received well and passed unanimously by our membership because they want this important initiative to fix the bus driver workstation to go forward. During our meeting, good questions were raised regarding the details of the resolution, but ultimately the language in the resolution spoke for itself. Our bus operators were very strong in support and also maintenance members in attendance at the meeting voted unanimously for the resolution. We discussed the next steps of the campaign to promote the passage of the resolution to our local press and push for these important improvements to fix the bus driver workstation.”

Clint Crabtree, president/business agent
Local 279–Ottawa, ON


“Our members voted 100 percent in favor of the workstation resolution. The sentiment among the membership was it’s about time we addressed these issues with a campaign like this. The only thing the TTC, politicians, and bus manufacturers understand and care about is liability and the bottom line. With this resolution, we show that a minor cost would fix dangerous and unhealthy bus driver workstation problems – the blind spot, poor seats, fumes, and other issues. It’s about the bottom line for the agency, elected officials and bus manufacturers and these fixes would bring down health care costs, liability and save them money on litigation.”

Kevin Morton, financial secretary
Local 113–Toronto, ON


“Since our Local is having problems with how the bus mirror is designed and the blind spots, there was overwhelming support for the resolution. In fact, last month we had an accident due to the bus blind spot by the mirror. We also have fumes on the bus, the problem of assaults on drivers, so the whole resolution is a perfect fit for us. At the Connecticut Legislative Conference we are planning to go to Capitol Hill in Connecticut and try to educate state politicians about these issues. We’ve told our general manager about these issues for years, but they’ve done nothing about it.” 

Jaroslaw Pizunski, president/business agent
Local 1209–New London, CT


“The resolution was unanimously passed by all members in attendance at our September local meeting. Our members are excited to support our sister Locals to ensure their workstation safety. We are looking forward to the resolution that will address workstation safety concerns that address rail properties.”

Gena Alexander, president/business agent
Local 1555–Oakland, CA


“We had a quorum and the resolution passed unanimously. While all agreed that bus blind spots are a dangerous problem that needs to be addressed, there were some questions about how easily it can be fixed from our maintenance members. Ergonomically poor seats are a problem for our members that many at the meeting want fixed. We plan to reach out to our local media about the passage of the resolution and also have set up a meeting with the St. Catharines Transit Commission to discuss ways to make the driver workstation safer and better especially concerning the driver blind spot.”

Robert Llord, president/business agent
Local 846–St. Catharines, ON


“The membership voted unanimously to adopt the resolution. They voiced that it was great that these specific issues were being talked about at all properties with ATU employees. They could relate to all the issues to improve working conditions and safety for operators as well as passengers.  Several members couldn’t understand why management wouldn’t want to stand with us. During the discussion, the executive board expressed how this started the process of contacting New Flyer to speak with the CEO and engineers who are located right here in Winnipeg.”

Aleem Chaudhary, acting president/business agent
Local 1505–Winnipeg, MB


“We passed the resolution, it was actually received quite well. We took it a step further and went to our retiree chapter to pass it as well. We also went to the Tennessee State AFL-CIO biennial and had the resolution passed there. It just affects so many of our members past and present. We believe the calls really matter. We actually presented the resolution to the board of directors at our transit system. We have a real opportunity to affect changes that need to be made in our system because there will be some large purchases made in the near future.”

Patrick Green, president/business agent
Local 1235–Nashville, TN


“Although the debate was brief at the meeting the membership continued to tell us buses need to change.  This is a common theme at Local 583 monthly meetings. Our members regularly bring the conversation on: visibility and the location of mirrors, the workstation design, regen burn off entering the unit, adequate time for proper cleaning, and protection from assailants.  Local Unions with the lead of the International need to work with all vested parties to make the necessary changes. Local 583 members supported this initiative unanimously.”

Rick Ratcliff, president/business agent
Local 583–Calgary, AB