Members of Local 23 in Santa Cruz, Calif., are mourning the passing of Transportation Division retiree Domingo Tovar on April 14 from COVID-19.
Brother Domingo Tovar of SMART-TD Local 23 in Santa Cruz, Calif., passed away last week from COVID-19. He was 68 years old.
Brother Tovar, 68, served two stints with Santa Cruz Metro as a bus operator starting in 1982, then leaving for another carrier before returning to Santa Cruz in 1987. He was involved in the initial contract talks with the carrier as well as a 37-day strike against in 2005.
He served a year as secretary and treasurer for Local 23.
“He had many friends. He was a happy person,” said retired Local 23 member Serena Tovar, Brother Tovar’s wife of more than 43 years and a 30-year SMART-TD member. “Domingo remained the same type of person the day she met him to the day he passed. He was always happy. He just loved life and had no regrets. He was very proud of his kids and was always there for his family.”
Brother Tovar retired in 2016 after 29 years of continuous union service. Transportation was in his blood, though — he had begun driving at age 25, had driven charter buses and had even obtained his pilot’s license. After his Santa Cruz Metro retirement, he kept working as a shuttle bus driver for the University of California — Santa Cruz until his passing.
He was remembered fondly by Local 23 brother Mario Espinoza.
“I could confide in Domingo about any issue and l knew that what we talked about always stayed between us,” said Espinoza, who worked alongside Brother Tovar for years. “Domingo was someone you could trust.”
Brother Espinoza said that his and Brother Tovar’s families became close over the years as they continued to work together and that Domingo was generous with his time and his technical expertise that bailed out co-workers many times.
“He was very helpful with a number of drivers that had problems with their computers, phones or any electronic device. He would solve the issue in no time or give you advice on resolving the issue,” Espinoza said. “He never wanted anything in return. His satisfaction was you being happy your problem was solved.
“He was just beginning to enjoy his retirement when this virus took his life. I am still in shock and can’t comprehend this and will take some time to cope with this,” Espinoza said. “So with a heavy heart l say, Domingo, you will be missed. Rest in peace, brother.”
In addition to his wife, Serena, Brother Tovar is survived by a daughter, Mandy; son, Damien; and two grandchildren — Damien and Sasha Tovar Page.
The sons of member Byron Watson have been labeled as heroes after saving a 4-year-old girl from drowning while at a birthday party March 24 at the Santa Maria Beach in Santa Cruz, California.
The boys’ mother, Nicole, who was watching over her boys while they were swimming in the ocean, recounted the story.
“I was watching my boys, but I looked away for a second and missed the boys seeing her drown. Rhys – he’s 7 – said ‘I think that girl is drowning’ to Bryce, who is now 11, and Bryce said, ‘No she’s just playing.’ And Rhys said, ‘No, I saw her head go underwater.’ And that’s when Bryce jumped in the water. I saw my-then-10-year-old holding this girl above his head in the water and I saw this man, the girl’s father, running, and he patted her on the back and water started coming out of her mouth.”
Both Byron and Nicole are really proud of the action their boys took.
“I’m very proud of my boys. We try to instill in them the ability to care for others, and that’s what determined the actions that they took. They live that out daily,” Byron said.
“I’m super proud. I’m really proud of them and they’re really proud of each other. I’m really proud that they were able to remain calm — they get that from their father — and save the girl,” Nicole said. “Bryce has a new-found confidence in himself, so that’s really cool.”
The 4-year-old girl (her name has not been released) was expected to make a full recovery thanks to both boys.
Byron reports that both boys learned to swim when they were about 6 months old. Byron is a bus operator for the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District and a member of Santa Cruz Local 23 since 2006.
The Watson family (from left): Byron, Kesia, 7; Bryce, 11; Rhys, 7; and Nicole. (Picture provided by Nicole Watson.)
PERRIS, Calif. – Bus drivers and mechanics of Southland Transit here have voted “UTU, yes” by an almost four-to-one margin.
This is the 23rd organizing victory – air, bus and rail — for the UTU since January 2008, an average of almost one new property organized every seven weeks.
“In these difficult economic times, it takes courage to vote against management’s wishes,” said UTU Bus Department Alternate Vice President Bonnie Morr, who led the organizing drive. “These 136 dedicated and previously unorganized workers reached out to the UTU and we will provide the resources necessary to negotiate a wage, benefits and working conditions contract they can be proud of.”
Southland Transit is a community transit operation serving the disabled and elderly in the Southern California counties of Riverside and San Bernadino, providing transportation on demand and over fixed routes.
Working with Morr on the organizing drive were General Chairperson (BNSF, GO 20) John England, UTU Local 1496 Secretary and Treasurer and Vice Local Delegate Chris Hubbell, and UTU Local 23 Vice Local Chairperson and Delegate Eduardo Montesino.
Assisting was Southland Transit employee Gary Miller, whom Morr said “worked tirelessly and with great determination to organize his fellow workers and bring home this victory.
“This was a very difficult process,” Morr said. “It was a second election following a successful appeal to the National Labor Relations Board that the employer had engaged in improper conduct during the first vote. The workers persevered.”