Bus Operators employed by Montebello Bus Lines (MBL) are angry and concerned for their safety after a college student was critically injured during an attack, which occurred Monday, April 9, while riding on one of their buses.
Local 1701 Chairperson Cecilia Lopez told the Montebello City Council at a meeting Wednesday, April 11, that members have been concerned for their safety for awhile and in light of Monday’s stabbing, are demanding that the city, who owns the bus system, make improvements to safety.
“People are crazy out there. Please don’t sweep this under the rug,” Lopez said at the meeting. “What does it take to make sure our employees are safe?”
Lopez has suggested that the city place uniformed officers on every bus. The Montebello police department says that they don’t have the manpower to place an officer on every bus, but that some officers can be placed on buses, especially if more complaints are lodged.
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SMART TD Local 1701 represents mechanics and bus operators employed by Montebello Bus Lines.
With a fleet of 66 buses, MBL serves over 8 million passengers a year throughout the communities of Alhambra, Bell Gardens, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Downtown Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, La Mirada, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Rosemead, South Gate and Whittier.
Singling out sleep apnea doesn’t solve the critical problem of fatigue in the transportation industry, stated Joseph Ciemny, SMART TD assistant Illinois legislative director, at a joint comment session of the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, held recently in Chicago. Read the complete article here.
One afternoon during the summer of 2000, her first year as a bus driver in Oregon’s Portland, Hope Okazaki had a troubling episode of gastrointestinal distress while on the job. She had just finished an almost two-hour tour through the east side of town, and her bus was parked at the Gateway Transit Center, in a lot across from Fred Meyer, a local grocery store and retailer.
“I was so embarrassed,” says Okazaki, who is now 53. “I bought underwear at Fred Meyer, then walked through the store to the restroom and changed my underwear, but I still smelled bad, you know, because I couldn’t get a shower.”
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Oct. 21 announced it has awarded $1 million in grants to nine technical and community colleges across the country to help train returning military veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers. The funding is provided through FMCSA’s Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training (CMV-OST) grant program.
“Those that we entrust to protect and serve our nation deserve opportunities that utilize the skills and training they received on the job on military bases overseas and at home,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We can think of none more appropriate to safeguard our highways as commercial vehicle drivers than the thousands of veterans who have already proven they can safely handle large vehicles under extremely stressful circumstances.”
“These unique grants are designed to help recruit, train and place veterans and their spouses in good jobs that are in high demand and in an industry that is vitally important in keeping our national economy moving forward,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Graduates of these training programs are continuing to serve our nation by ensuring that the goods and products we depend on are delivered professionally, efficiently and, most importantly, safely.”
FMCSA awards CMV-OST grants to organizations that provide truck driving training, including accredited public or private colleges, universities, vocational-technical schools, post-secondary educational institutions, truck driver training schools, associations, and state and local governments, including federally-recognized Native American tribal governments. The funds are used to recruit, train, and provide students job placement assistance after graduation.
The 2014 FMCSA grants announced today will provide training for nearly 400 new students. The awards were made to the following organizations:
Florida – South Florida State College, Avon Park, Fla., $58,003
Minnesota – Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn., $91,080
Missouri – Crowder College, Neosho, Mo., $72,160
Nebraska – Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Ne., $47,614
Pennsylvania – Northampton County Area Community College, Bethlehem, Pa., $134,400
Pennsylvania – The Sage Corporation, Camp Hill, Pa., $249,968
Texas – Lone Star College-North Harris, Houston, Texas, $73,704
Virginia – Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, Va., $107,271
The Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training Grant Program was established by Congress in 2005 through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), to expand the number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders possessing enhanced operator safety training to help reduce the severity and number of crashes on U.S. roads involving large trucks and buses.
In July 2014, FMCSA announced that the Military Skills Test Waiver Program had been expanded to include all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Under this program, state licensing agencies have authority to waive the skills test portion of the CDL application for active duty or recently separated veterans who possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus. Waiving the skills test expedites the civilian commercial drivers licensing application process and reduces expenses for qualified individuals and operating costs to state licensing agencies.
FMCSA also announced this summer that, commencing with Virginia residents, returning military service personnel who possess a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL). FMCSA encourages other state licensing agencies to establish comparable equivalency SPE programs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) June 27 announced that 8,000 more health professionals have been added to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) since the new system for USDOT medical examinations launched last month with 22,000 providers.
Another 22,500 medical professionals have also initiated the process for gaining their certification. All interstate commercial truck and bus drivers must pass a USDOT medical examination at least once every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate and maintain their commercial driver’s license (CDL).
As required by federal regulation, effective May 21, 2014, all new USDOT medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers (both CDL and non-CDL drivers) are required to be performed by a medical examiner who has completed the required training and passed a certification test.
The USDOT medical examination looks at a range of conditions to assess a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision, and hearing. To meet the needs of professional drivers throughout the country, there are certified examiners in every state, and dozens or hundreds in most cities that can be located by visiting http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is reminding interstate truck and bus drivers that beginning May 21, all new USDOT physicals must be performed by a qualified health professional listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
“Safety is our highest priority and it is vital that every commercial truck and bus driver be qualified, alert, and focused when they are behind the wheel,” said Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Medical examiners equipped with a thorough understanding of DOT fitness standards will be able to ensure that commercial drivers meet the health requirements necessary to operate on our highways and roads, thereby strengthening safety for every traveler.”
The new program, which was required by federal law and addresses four National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, sets baseline training and testing standards for medical professionals who perform commercial driver physicals and for tracking of driver medical certificates.
Today, approximately 22,000 medical professionals have completed the coursework and testing and are listed on the National Registry and another 27,000 have begun the certification process. Current medical certificates held by commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders will continue to be valid until the expiration date that is shown on the card. Only then will the driver need to seek a certified medical examiner to perform their new examination.
“We have certified thousands of health professionals to conduct driver exams – with more being added every day,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “The online database is easily searchable so drivers can schedule their medical certification exam with a qualified healthcare professional wherever they might be – coast to coast, including Hawaii and Alaska.”
A USDOT medical exam looks at a range of conditions to assess a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision, and hearing.
All interstate commercial truck and bus drivers must pass a USDOT medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their CDL, and legally operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Medical examiners on the National Registry will also be required to maintain and demonstrate competence through periodic training and recertification testing and those that fail to maintain federal standards will be removed.
FMCSA developed the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners program as part of the agency’s commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers, and preventing commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities. To learn more, visit http://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov.
In representation elections held May 15 on both bus and rail properties, the SMART Transportation Division came out on top, keeping the Organizing Department’s 2014 undefeated streak alive.
Yet another division of First Student bus operators has joined the SMART fold as Kansas City, Mo., school bus drivers overwhelmingly selected SMART over both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union.
Of eligible voters, 107 selected SMART Transportation Division, 63 selected the Teamsters, 16 selected SEIU and just seven chose to vote for no union.
“This was a hard-fought campaign, but it was also a well-run campaign,” said Transportation Division Director of Organizing Rich Ross. “We won, and we won by a large majority because we spent a lot of time out there making our case. The operators wanted representation and chose the best bang for their buck.”
“We were out near the property every day at 4:30 a.m. to get our message across. The Teamsters came out in force with their parade truck, trying to block us from view, but the First Student operators found us.”
Ross lauded the efforts of Alternate Vice President-Bus Calvin Studivant and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority General Chairperson Waverly Harris (1594) and Vice Local Chairperson Brian Caldwell (1594). He also thanked CSX and Norfolk Southern new-hire class instructor Justin Humphries Local 1291 Chairperson Jacob Lane for their dedicated service throughout the campaign and Local 759 member Sheny M. Mendez for acting as an interpreter for the company’s Spanish-speaking employees.
In Western Michigan, the train and engine service workers employed by Marquette Rail also said “SMART” when they opted for union representation.
With the assistance of Vice President Jeremy Ferguson, Ross concluded another successful campaign in the Great Lakes State.
The Genesee & Wyoming-owned short line operates over approximately 126 miles of Michigan track, primarily on rail route extensions from CSX and Norfolk Southern near Grand Rapids northward to Ludington and Manistee.
Marquette transports chemicals, paperboard, grain, salt, petroleum products and other commodities. It also serves as a storage agent for fleet owners requiring accommodations for seasonally inactive or off-lease rolling stock. Capacity is in excess of 500 railcars.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – SMART Transportation Division organizers, representatives and members of Local 1715 at Charlotte, N.C., have turned back the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in an attempted raid of SMART membership.
Local 1715 represents bus operators employed by the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS).
On May 31, the National Labor Relations Board released the official tally of a representation vote held earlier that day in which SMART was chosen by nearly a 3-1 margin.
SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross gave the official vote count as 267-97 in favor of SMART. There are approximately 600 drivers employed in the system.
The SMART TD is the collective bargaining agent for both CATS’ bus operators and bus mechanics (Local 1596), but the mechanics were not targeted during the raid.
Ross said rallying the SMART membership here was truly a team effort and he thanked International Organizers Mike Lewis and Calvin Studivant and General Chairperson Alvy Hughes for their outstanding effort. He also ackowledged the efforts of North Carolina State Legislative Director Ron Ingerick, Vice General Chairpersons Hasson Trent and Cheryl Brown, General Committee Secretary Bill Brown and local officers Bruce Wright, Kevin Moss, Brenda Moore, Debra Franklin and Donell Taylor.
“I believe it is now our responsibility to show the people that voted against UTU-SMART why they should have voted for us,” Ross said.
The transit system’s website says that CATS is the largest transit system between Atlanta, Ga., and Washington, D.C., with more than 70 local, express and regional bus routes, a light rail line and services for the disabled.
Local 1715 Legislative Rep. Debra Franklin, International Organizer Mike Lewis and Local 1715 Chairperson Kevin Moss rally Charlotte Area Transit System bus operators during a representation vote May 31.
By Calvin Studivant Alternate Vice President, Bus Department
There is no question that more must be done to protect bus operators.
When operating a motor coach — whether carrying students, commuters, tourists or the handicapped – whenever we open the door, we are exposed to assaults.
Just in recent weeks, a driver in Utah was injured by a passenger who attacked him and caused the bus to crash. In Chicago, a driver was hospitalized in serious condition after being struck by a customer in a fare dispute. Almost daily, school bus operators must deal with abusive and unruly students.
Some employers are installing Plexiglas safety shields to protect drivers, and video cameras are being installed in buses and in bus terminals to record unruly behavior and threats.
In New Jersey, the state legislature passed a bill imposing severe punishment for anyone assaulting a bus operator or rail employee, and the law is proving to be effective. Coach USA has taken a further step and posted notices in its buses in New Jersey warning of the severe penalties for assaulting bus operators.
Our UTU National Legislative Office and many state legislative directors are working with lawmakers, many of whom are eager to craft legislation imposing penalties on those who assault drivers, and to require driver training in how to deal with unruly and abusive riders.
Within the UTU, from the local level to the International, we have qualified officers and staff working each day to help improve workplace safety.
Each of our bus locals should be working with state legislative directors to provide examples of the problem and suggestions for solutions, which should be communicated to lawmakers.