News from Transport Workers Union Local 234 October 2012
On the Move
WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THIS ELECTION? John Johnson, Jr, President TWU Local 234 This November we face a stark choice at the polls. Republicans, led by the Romney‐ Ryan ticket, will, if elected, seek national right to work legislation and a roll back of collective bargaining. Medicare, Medicaid and other programs are in their crosshairs. Funding for transportation, including mass transit, would be further slashed. Meanwhile, at the top of their agenda are more tax breaks for corporations and the super rich and further deregulation to give Wall Street even more power.
October 2012 Inside Fight Against Transit Violence
TWU 234 President John Johnson at demonstration in center city
MV Workers Vote to Join TWU
Divide and Conquer To sell this toxic brew to working people, Romney has resorted to the oldest tactic in their playbook – divide and conquer. Coded appeals to race, as in Romney’s false charges about the Obama administration suspending work requirements for welfare or his “innocent” joke about Obama’s birth certi icate, are at the heart of his campaign. In PA and other states Republicans have passed voter suppression legislation in the form of ID laws aimed at disenfranchising minority voters, the elderly and the young. We have to ight back against these attacks and we are. We’ve joined with My Right, My Vote, formed a voter registration/ID education coalition with the CWA and NAACP and participated in Workers Voice labor walks from our union hall with the AFL‐CIO and numerous other groups. We’ve walked and demonstrated with groups like Fight for Philly to bring to light the Romney‐Ryan economic “disaster” plan for America and with TWU members both here and from around the region, stood with workers at the Workers Stand for America rally. Just as we are committed to ighting against the violation of our rights by SEPTA management whenever and wherever it occurs around the property, we are committed to ighting for the rights of working people, families and the 99% whenever and wherever we can. Philadelphia “My Right, My Vote” Coalition and voter registration drive
Death Mirrors Have to Go
Luther Finds New Diggs On the Move is now produced bi‐ monthly and mailed to all members. More information is available on our web site:. www.twu234.org. We’re also on Facebook, all part of a commitment to a well informed and engaged membership. Call the of ice , (215) 972‐4140, to get active in your union
Top 5 Things You Need to Know This Election 1) Make sure your registration is up to date – if you’ve changed your name, haven’t voted in last four years; 2) Find out where your polling place is – in 2010 many polling places were moved and because a number of voters didn’t know where the new place was, they didn’t vote. Find out where your polling is go to www.votespa.com and click on Find Out Now under Where is My Polling Place? 3) Vote early – make it the start of your day so that if anything unplanned happens during the day, you won’t be prevented from casting your ballot 4) Make sure you have a valid ID – It’s always good to have a valid ID to vote. TWU/CWA/NAACP form a coaliƟon to register new voters and educate new and current voters.
On Saturday September 15, 2012, TWU 234 hosted the irst of two Workers Voice voter registration walks from the union hall. The Philadelphia Council of the AFL‐CIO sponsored the walks, joined by area unions and activist groups. Nearly 50 people hit the streets, knocking on doors, in the ongoing effort to register new voters and educate new and current voters on the PA voter ID law. Even though the ID law was overturned, Local 234 boosted the registration of new voters.
5) If challenged at the polling place, don’t get mad ‐ get help and get prepared – there is a judge of elections at each polling place and part of their job is to ensure that election rules are followed . Seek them out if you have any questions, problems or concerns. For help contact the watchdog group The Committee of Seventy at (215) 557‐3600
Of icers and staff received training on voter registration by NAACP Director of Civic Engagement John Jordan . TWU Local 234 along with AFL‐CIO, Communications Workers of America, ACTION UNITED, NAACP and Fight For Philly at recent rally against the Voter ID law.
Victory at MV Transportation:
Second Bill of Rights
Local 234 Welcomes New Members
On August 11, 2012 Local 234 lead a contingent of TWU members at the Workers Stand for America Rally held on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The Rally focused on a Second Bill of Rights ‐ The Workers Bill of Rights (see box below). Organizers said they would require that those who seek the support of Labor both sign onto the bill and ight for these basic rights.
On May 4, 2012, Paratransit drivers, aides and utility workers at MV Transit voted overwhelming to be represented by Local 234. Many of the workers are former employees of the Edens Corp. Edens lost their contract work with SEPTA in May 2011 and shut down operations in July 2011. Local 234 forced Edens to give severance pay and all accrued vacation and personal time to the 168 union members losing their jobs.
Clockwise: First ive signers of the 2nd Bill of Rights – representing the ive rights outlined in the bill; TWU Local 100 and 234 members at rally; members and friends gathering at union hall before rally; Local 234 marching up the parkway to join the rally.
Once Local 234 learned that MV Transit in Northeast Philadelphia would be hiring many of the workers and were requiring them to join the UIU, the local President John Johnson Jr. addresses new swung into action. MV Transit TWU members. Local 234 iled an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
Innovative Organizing Drive Pays Off Local 234 also iled a representation petition seeking an election that would allow MV employees to choose who would be representing them. The union launched an New MV Sec on Oﬃcers, from le , organizing campaign that included a personal Cheryl Bea y (Chairperson), Leon Tann (Vice‐Chairman) and Colleen Holloman message from the (Recording Secretary) take their oath. President, phone calls to each MV employee and several handouts. On the very hot election day, the local handed out cold bottles of water with Vote Local 234 labels. Local 234 was victorious, 97 to 76. Almost 300 workers came under the TWU umbrella. The UIU challenged the election results. On August 16, 2012, Judge Michael Rosas decided that MV should have stopped recognizing the UIU July 29, 2011, that it had denied new hires the right to choose their representatives and that MV should reimburse all 297 employees for approximately one year’s worth of union dues it had collected. The ight now is to win the workers a new contract. With the same energy shown in the representation ight, Local 234 will ight like hell to gain a good contract for MV transit workers.
The Right to Full Employment and a
Living Wage The Right to Full Participation in the
Electoral Process The Right to a Voice at Work The Right to a Quality Education The Right to a Secure, Healthy Future For more information go to www.WorkersStandforAmerica.com
The Route 234 softball team traveled to New York and took on an All Star TWU100 team at their Member Appreciation Day festivities. Despite a valiant effort in the last 3 innings our team lost 27‐8 (nope, not a typo). The two busloads of members enjoyed the Coney Island beach and the hospitality of our brothers and sisters in New York. We are hoping to make it a home and home series, so . . . next year in Philly!
Join the Fun!
Local 100 President John Samuelson and Local 234 President John Johnson Jr.
Luther Gets New Diggs
Death Mirrors: Dangerous by Design
SEPTA Assistant General Manager of Operations Luther Diggs left SEPTA on July 31, 2012. They said Diggs “is retiring” at 61, but we suspect that Luther may have been helped out the door by Joe Casey’s boot on his backside.
SEPTA buses are equipped with Rosco brand mirrors that have a large rectangular design, measuring 14 ½ by 10 ½ inches. Their size coupled with their placement on the bus causes a blind spot. Pedestrians are often fully hidden from the operators view. The result has been a larger number of accidents since these vehicles were put in service. Roscoe mirror blind spot SEPTA denies there is a blind spot obstructs view of person. by using the term “temporary obstruction.” Operators, they contend, can eliminate it by “rocking and rolling” and “bending over and rising up” in the seat to see over, around and under the mirror and between the mirror and the bus frame. Government agencies, including PennDOT, USDOT and the NTSB, all recognize the existence of the blind spot. Instead, SEPTA has chosen to blame and discharge operators. They can easily follow the lead of other transit agencies and either move or replace the mirrors. A transit agency in Canada recently purchased the same type of articulated buses SEPTA currently has. Instead of the mirrors bolted near the base of the window, they hang down from the top. This reduces or eliminates the blind spot, especially in relation to pedestrians who are no longer fully hidden behind the mirrors.
Diggs may have become expendable due to his inability “to manage” Local 234. Diggs had well‐deserved reputation for being “a control freak” who prized loyalty above all. He systematically installed “his people” as managers of the departments under his command. One of those departments is labor relations. But under his tight hand, it has not been a good year for SEPTA’s labor relations of ice. Local 234 has taken several initiatives that have given SEPTA a black eye. 1. Faced with an epidemic of assaults on operators, Diggs responded with sensitivity training for operators, failing to address the real cause of assaults and ight for stringent penalties against those who assault us. 2. The Rosco mirrors on the New Flyer buses play a major role in a growing number of pedestrian knockdowns. Once again Diggs chose to blame and ire operators instead of working for real solutions.
TWU Local 234 has demanded that SEPTA follow the lead of other transit agencies and experts. The union is focused on reducing the number of knockdown accidents The cost of moving or replacing the mirrors is less than the cost of a fatality or a worker losing their job. Our contract says “the safety of its employees and the riding public is of paramount importance to the successful accomplishment of the mission of providing transit service to the citizens of the region.” SEPTA management has a legal and moral obligation to get rid of the Death Mirrors.
3. The M‐4 trucks debacle was another embarrassment. SEPTA tried to sub‐contract repair work on the trucks, sending the work to a plant in Plattsburgh. By iling an injunction Local 234 was able to prevent SEPTA from removing jobs from our area in the middle of an economic depression and using much‐needed federal funding to do it. SEPTA will deny that Diggs’ labor relations failures had anything to do with his “retirement.” But we know that, thanks to the efforts of Local 234, his policies were exposed for the harm and damage they did.
Meet TWU member Michele Fletcher After starting as a bus operator at Southern, Michele transferred to MCD, working at 69th Street. Quickly realizing that the bus was not for her, Michele is happy doing a job that gives her the work hours she needs to spend the time with her family that she wants.
TWU UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!
On the Move Voice of TWU Local 234 500 N. 2nd St. Philadelphia, 19123
Finding Solu ons . . . Together! TWU Local 234 President John Johnson Jr is visi ng each transporta on loca on around the system over the coming weeks, holding Town Hall Mee ngs with operators to talk about and hear our sugges ons and ideas about what we need to feel and be safe while opera ng SEPTA’s buses, trolleys and trains. (A special Town Hall Mee ng will be held at the Union Hall for cashiers.)
One Ques on! One Agenda! Think about what it is you need to help you. One of the commitments of the leadership of Local 234 is to include everyone in the solu ons ‐ not just what the union hall can do for us, but what we can do together.
Our Safety . . . What It Takes, What We Want!