Posts Tagged ‘Vice President Calvin Studivant’

Union officers’ efforts yield better protections for N.J. transportation workers

SMART Transportation Division Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant and New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol spent a significant time brainstorming ways to protect members in Sabol’s state last year.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic had added even more potential risk to our members working on New Jersey Transit (NJT) and other carriers. Beyond their daily duties of keeping things moving, the need for workers to enforce COVID safety measures increased the potential for conflict and violent incidents with dangerous outcomes for workers, riders and even the public.

Two assaults on NJT workers drew headlines through the autumn. A union tracking violence against NJT workers reported more than 130 instances of workers being attacked. Something needed to be done.

In response, Studivant and Sabol, in conjunction with SMART-TD legislative and legal leadership, developed and presented what became the Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act.

On Jan. 10, that legislation was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“I’m very proud of what this law accomplishes in protecting transportation workers in our state,” Sabol said. “It took the help of many people on both our side, including National Legislative Director Greg Hynes and TD Designated Legal Counsel Safety Coordinator Larry Mann, the persistence of other labor organizations, and a receptive, bipartisan group of legislators to get this done.”

Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson (D-Dist. 14) and state Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Dist. 18) were the driving forces behind the versions of the Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act that ran concurrently in rapid fashion through both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature. On the Republican side, State Sen. Robert R. Singer (R-Dist. 30) also championed the bill that gained massive support from both parties in the Senate.

The Senate version, S-4071, passed unanimously Dec. 20 on a 39-0 vote. The Assembly version, A-6013, passed unanimously with a 76-0 vote the same day.

“We cannot thank Assemblyman Benson enough for his diligence and his amazing effort in putting in the time to make this legislation succeed,” Sabol said after the bill’s signing. “He spent hours engaging fellow legislators with in-depth discussions as he proposed and helped to advance the legislation. The same goes again with state Sens. Diegnan and Singer, who were instrumental in initiating and retaining the overwhelming bipartisan support the law gained, and, of course, Gov. Murphy.”

The Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Prevention Act upgrades the penalty for all assaults on a motorbus or autobus operator, the operator’s supervisor and a rail passenger employee. It also empowers NJT, motorbus companies and all rail passenger service providers to ban riders from their transportation services for up to one year if the person commits an assault on a motorbus operator, the operator’s supervisor or a rail passenger employee.

If a deadly weapon was used during the assault, the rider may be banned for life.

“Transportation workers are far too often subjected to vicious attacks by irate passengers for simply doing their jobs,” said Benson, who serves as chairperson of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “Our bus and rail employees must be protected as they fulfill their critical duties on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of commuters in our state.”

“This bill, while long overdue, is right on time,” Vice President Studivant said. “The collaborative efforts to secure this piece of legislation is a testament to the men and women who face adverse conditions on a daily basis for simply doing their jobs of moving the people of N.J.”

“Congratulations to Vice President Studivant, SLD Sabol and the New Jersey State Legislative Board for their outstanding work, and thanks to Larry Mann for his guidance in this victory,” National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “This legislation could be a great blueprint for other states to follow suit.”

Of note, Gov. Murphy also signed S.771, a second piece of legislation expanding workers’ compensation coverage to include injuries that occurs in employer parking lots. Both SMART-TD and the New Jersey Council of Safety and Health (COSH) supported the bill.

SMART-TD leaders urge action from FMCSA administrator

CLEVELAND, Ohio (March 18) — SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) President Jeremy R. Ferguson and TD Bus Department Vice Presidents Calvin Studivant and Alvy Hughes sent a letter to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Raymond Martinez urging the head of the FMCSA to thoroughly respond to the rapidly spreading national threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

“While it is noted FMCSA recently issued a national emergency declaration and guidelines for commercial vehicles delivering relief in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, to our knowledge, it has not released information or guidelines pertinent to our members,” Ferguson, Studivant and Hughes wrote, noting that agencies such as the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and Maritime Administration have submitted guidelines to employers on how to handle COVID-19.

The SMART Transportation Division represents about 8,000 bus members, many of whom work in densely populated urban areas susceptible to the virus’s spread.

“We are urging you to issue emergency regulations directed towards metropolitan transportation authorities (and similar carriers), employees and passengers,” TD leadership wrote.

The mandates urged by SMART-TD to protect its membership and the public were that:

  • buses be sanitized after every route or tour of duty, prior to it being occupied by a subsequent operator or passengers. Require the use of CDC recommended chemicals to kill germs on surfaces, including wiping down all operator controls, seating, windows, steering wheels, door handles, switches, etc. (anywhere that an employee is likely to touch). Likewise, a disinfectant spray should be used at the end of cleaning to broadly disinfect the operators’ work area;
  • passenger areas and other equipment such as (but not limited to) computers, time clocks, restrooms, and communal areas such as offices, crew staging areas and garages be sanitized at least once every 8 hours, ideally within the range of normal shift changes and on/off duty times, if they exist;
  • the above sanitization tasks be performed by individuals designated and educated on proper procedures, who are equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment, and include the removal of trash from buses and communal areas (this should not be considered incidental work performed by operators);
  • operators and passengers be provided with personal protective equipment, alcohol-based hand sanitizer strong enough to kill viruses, and other cleaning supplies as deemed appropriate;
  • the number of passengers and/or employees in a confined area (including buses) be limited to comply with the applicable Local, State, and/or federal guidelines;
  • employees be encouraged to stay home if they have respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and/or fever) and to leave work if they develop such symptoms while at the workplace;
  • prohibition of attendance policies and availability standards which could result in discipline or penalties for employees who miss work due to COVID-19 related symptoms and/or illness;
  • all employees (including supervisory staff) must be educated on the appropriate guidelines for self-monitoring of their health condition, as well as monitoring and addressing others who appear to be symptomatic;
  • all employees reporting to work must be scanned for fever prior to the beginning of each route or tour of duty, with employees identified as having an elevated temperature immediately isolated and sent home for treatment or self-quarantine in accordance with CDC guidelines;
  • carriers must report to the appropriate health departments where employees have shown aforementioned symptoms that prevent them from carrying out their assigned duties;
  • carriers must develop plans for employees who reside with, and/or come into direct contact with, individuals who are symptomatic, and
  • carriers must comply with other such guidelines issued by the CDC and the federal government.

President Ferguson and Vice Presidents Studivant and Hughes also urged Martinez to provide timely  updates as FMCSA engages in its response to COVID-19.

“Further, we ask that you provide continual updates to these guidelines/mandates, as other departments have done,” they wrote. “Please advise of your plans pertaining to this very serious situation.”

Read the entire letter to FMCSA Administrator Martinez.