Screwing our retirees is HOW WE ROLL

Screwing our retirees is HOW WE ROLL

Monday, January 7, 2013

LETS TAKE A LOOK AT THE JOE ROSE CHAT

He did a good piece of research on his fatigue story. The only problem I had with his piece is somehow linking the union to all of this.
The union has nothing to do with handing out work assignments and the linking of operator shortage to the 'benefits' is a lie since the arbitration has changed all of that.

No more defined retirement for new employees and 2nd rate health insurance for everybody including current employees. Yet Joe and the liars who run Trimet try to ignore the fact that they already got their way. Of course all of this goes right over the heads of Trimet bus drivers who couldn't care less what the contract says as long as their take home pay bulges with dollars right now.


Original Chat here

TriMet operator fatigue: Live chat with reporter Joseph Rose

Monday January 7, 2013
11:48


The Oregonian:
Welcome to our live chat on TriMet overtime and operator fatigue. Reporter Joseph Rose will join us at noon. Until then, feel free to submit your questions and comments. Expect a short delay between the time you post and the time you see your submission in the chat.
11:59


The Oregonian:
The Oregonian's Mark Friesen will also join the chat. Mark is a data journalist who contributed to this project.
11:59


Joseph Rose:
OK. Ready to roll.
11:59


Joseph Rose:
Hello, everyone.
12:00


The Oregonian:
Joe, tell us how you got started on this project. The quick version.
12:00


Joseph Rose:
The quick version. Aye!
12:00


Joseph Rose:
It started with the MAX train crash at the Expo Center in late 2011 and a tip that the operator fell asleep.
12:01


Joseph Rose:
Then more tips from TriMet employees about reports of drivers nodding off.
12:01


Joseph Rose:
And then requests for thousands of pages of documents that also showed drivers working as many as 22 hours in a 24-hour period.
12:02


Joseph Rose:
And the rise of the $100,000 bus driver as TriMet put a hiring freeze into place and needed to fill scheduling holes.
12:02


Joseph Rose:
And here we are.
12:02


Comment From chris
I wonder how TriMet officials would feel if they had to board a flight and found out the pilot just put in a 20 shift? Am I supposed to feel any safer because I'm just on a bus?
12:02


Joseph Rose:
I'm not sure how I can answer that question for TriMet execs ...
12:03


Joseph Rose:
But I did stop GM Neil McFarlane outside a board meeting a couple weeks ago.
12:04


Joseph Rose:
I had my MacBook Air on me and offered to show him what we had found when we ran a query on TriMet's payroll database (which we had to spend more than $1,000 for -- six months worth of records).
12:04


Joseph Rose:
Mr. McFarlane said: "No. I already have a pretty good idea what it says."
12:05


Joseph Rose:
Thats said, this is a complex topic that isn't easily solved. It has to be negotiated and the absenteeism rate at TriMet's garages is about 10 percent.
12:06


Joseph Rose:
I'm not going to say TriMet management doesn't care about safety. Indeed, I think the contrary. They have to. The public needs to have confidence in its transit system. But there's no easy fix here.
12:06


Comment From Alex
how is that legal?
12:06


Joseph Rose:
As the story says, federal hours of service rules, requiring 8 to 10 hours off for charter bus drivers, train engineers, truckers and pilots, don't apply to public transit bus drivers.
12:07


Joseph Rose:
TriMet has an HOS policy for bus drivers, but it only says drivers have the right to ask for 9 hours off between shifts/service days. They don't have to. And many don't.
12:08


Comment From Anne N.
Other commercial drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 12 hours at a time, I beleive, why does Trimet not have to obey federal law?
12:08


Joseph Rose:
As I say in the story, bus operators have more lives in their hands at any given moment than the average firefighter or cop, so you think they would apply.
12:09


Joseph Rose:
However, TriMet is not an interstate agency. And the feds don't require those strict times off between shifts.
12:09


The Oregonian:
Mark, here's a question about the numbers from Khris.
12:09


Comment From khris
that info is wrong
12:09


Comment From khris
trimet drivers cant work more then 16 hrs aday and that time starts at 4am daily
12:10


Joseph Rose:
Hi, Khris. You're talking about a service day. And it's actually 17 hours. That's different.
12:10


The Oregonian:
And Joe, for you from al m:
12:10


Comment From al m
Hey Joe what did you think of Shelly's response to your article
12:11


Joseph Rose:
Hi, Al. What part of it exactly. Shelly is in a tough spot. This is a complex issue and she has to keep the buses rolling while working with the union on contract limitations. I'm not sure ...(THIS IS THE ONLY part of Joe's story I take exception too. The union does not hand out work shifts. The union has no role in the overtime story. This situation is created solely by the Trimet management)
12:12


Joseph Rose:
However, I was concerned about her use of the words "rare" and "some" to describe these issues ....
12:13


Joseph Rose:
I think public safety should bee a pro-active propisition, rather than reactive out after one of the "rare4" or "some" drivers works too many hours and has a tragic crash.
12:13


Comment From al m
the buses will roll no matter what shelly does
12:13


Joseph Rose:
be not bee
12:13


Comment From Jim
Isn't this more about the union than it is about management? Seems like, once again, contract ties management's hands.(completely wrong, misinformation)
12:13


Comment From Paul Manson
You mentioned 10% absenteeism in the story. Do you know how that compares to other agencies? It seems high on the face of it.
12:14


Comment From al m
the union has nothing to do with handing out work assignments
12:14


Joseph Rose:
Paul: It's higher than most, according to my research. I'm working on a follow-up story looking at this issue in transit. It's complex and goes back years.(trimet has handed out generous overtime since the beginning of time)
12:14


Comment From David
Has anyone asked the operator Larry Porter who saved the lady from being assaulted his opinions on this?
12:15


Joseph Rose:
David: I love talking to Larry. I'd enjoy chatting with him -- any chance I get. But Larry's work schedule isn't one of the ones under scrutiny.
12:15


Comment From noah
What will it take to change the culture at Trimet? Does the governor have to exert more direct control to show all parties that wholesale reform is needed?
12:15


Comment From khris
why blame drivers?
12:15


Comment From khris
drivers follow the hos policy
12:16


Joseph Rose:
Noah: Let me think about that. That's a tough one to answer, given how the union and TRiMet both raise legitimate challenges to fixing things.
12:17


Joseph Rose:
Khris: Yes, drivers do. But unlike rail, bus drivers can take only a couple hours off after working a service day and come back and work another one without violating the HOS policy.
12:17


Comment From khris
I have that document here in my hand it says 16 and there is no trimet policy that says in a 24 hr period I recall just service day
12:17


Joseph Rose:
Khris: As a driver, are you in favor switchbacks -- working 10 hour sone service day that ends at 2 a.m. and coming back at 4 a.m. the next service day to work another 12 hour shift?
12:18


Comment From kle
why doesn't OSHA get involved with the hours of service, breaks, and safety issues for drivers?
12:18


Comment From Alex
I guess I don't understand why they are an exception. Are transit workers not covered in the code or are they excluded from the code
12:18


Joseph Rose:
Kle: As I said, this isn't a federal issue
12:18


Comment From Chuck
Is anything being done at Trimet to change the policy on overtime?
12:19


Joseph Rose:
Chuck: As the story mentions, TriMet has promised this will be a priority during upcoming union talks -- if they get started -- and the union told me they are willing to listen.(WTF does this have to do with the union? Wage and hour laws are not set by the union. This is a complete red herring)
12:19


Comment From Chuck
Is anything being done by the city or state to push Trimet to Change the policy?
12:19


Comment From ScaredRider
Why can't ODOT just make a safety rule? and the governor an emergency declaration to stop this threat to public health? The labor commissioner could step in to guard the employees, too.
12:20


Joseph Rose:
Chuck: Yes, the state could mandate a certain number of hours off between service days or shifts (as they do with rail, and TriMet was caught violating those mandates in 2011) ...
12:20


Joseph Rose:
But for now, any limits have to be negotiated.
12:20


Joseph Rose:
However, the MAP-21 funding formula on the federal level may start imposing work limits on transit drivers in order for the agency to get funding. But that's a long time off.
12:20


Comment From al m
greed is good-remember-its as american as applie pie-people have the opportunity to make big bucks they gonna take it-its encouraged in every area of american life but somehow its not ok here?
12:21


Comment From kle
it is not the drivers fault that TriMet doesn't hire enough workers to cover the runs, resulting in overtime
12:22


Joseph Rose:
Al M: I'm not going to address whether this is greed or not. Soem of these drivers have found a way to make $120,000 a year, but it's up to the public and the board to judge that, not me.
12:22


Comment From ScaredRider
Absenteeism of 10% certainly is the drivers' responsibility.
12:22


Joseph Rose:
Kle: Yes, the hiring freeze has contributed greatly to the issue, building overtime into almost every shift.
12:22


Comment From Alex
Switchbacks contribute to fatigue. Not in favor of switchbacks.
12:23


Joseph Rose:
Alex: For those who aren't familiar with the term switchbacks ...
12:24


Joseph Rose:
That's when an operator works a 12-hour day within the HOS rules until the end of one service day (say, 2 a.m.) and takes a quick nap until the next service day at 4 a.m. and clocks back in for another 10 to 15 hours on the road. None of that violates the 17 hours in one service day HOS policy.
12:24


Joseph Rose:
But the question is: Is that a safe thing to do? Are the drivers getting enough rest?
12:25


Joseph Rose:
Fatigue is becoming a huge issue in the transit agency. It's not just TriMet, as the story shows.
12:25


The Oregonian:
Joe, Khris has an answer to your earlier question on switchbacks too.
12:25


Comment From khris
if it means buses on the road for the public but we as drivers know when to call it a day safety wise as a past rep very few people had accidents from falling asleep
12:25


Comment From khris
don't know why no one supports the drivers and always bashes us
12:25


Comment From khris
each driver know their limits
12:25


Joseph Rose:
So, Khris, you think we should wait until exhaustion and overtime cause a tragic crash before the issue is addressed?
12:26


Comment From Alex
are these switchback shifts mandatory or volunteer?
12:26


Joseph Rose:
Also, it should be mentioned that I know a lot of drivers who pass up overtime so that they can get 8 hrs of sleep.
12:27


Comment From al m
WTF does this have to do with the union?
12:27


Comment From al m
futhermore none of the high overtime people had serious accidents
12:27


Comment From al m
they worked the system-just like the banks work the system-its the american way
12:27


Joseph Rose:
Alex: As the story mentions, TriMet bus drivers have "the opportunity" to pass up shifts without 9 hours off. But many aren't.
12:27


Comment From Alex
It has been my experience, switchbacks are scheduled.
12:28


Comment From Guest
some of that 10% absenteeism is due to the work conditions and hazards that the operators face.
12:28


Joseph Rose:
Alex: Everything is traded, swapped and scheduled in garages, but drivers can walk away from those switchbacks. And many do.
12:28


Comment From Chuck
I am member of the ATU and a Driver and feel this issue should be addressed. I would never drive without enough rest and take seriously the responsibility to the passengers I transport and the public on the roads. It is greed, that pushes my co workers to work ridiculous hours and Trimet should not allow drivers to drive more than 50-60 hrs a week.
12:29


Joseph Rose:
Al: "futhermore none of the high overtime people had serious accidents"

That we know of. The collision data only covered 16 months and was heavily redacted.
12:29


Comment From al m
try doing that job-you'll find out real quick why absenteeism is so high
12:29


Comment From khris
but the driver can pass up work if under 9 hours off shift
12:29


Joseph Rose:
Al: Also, why would wait until they have a serious accident before addressing this issue?
12:29


Joseph Rose:
Let's get back to the riders.
12:29


Comment From ScaredRider
If a driver dozes at the wheel, then that driver doesn't OBEY that driver's limits. Tha't's what matters.
12:30


Comment From Guest
Joseph: good point - the only accident cited in your report that was the result of fatigue was the MAX crash.
12:30


Comment From al m
agree with chuck-the drivers have 'contests' with each other to see who can make more money
12:30


Comment From BluaBasset
I agree with Chuck. 50-60 hours/week.
12:31


Joseph Rose:
Guest: There were other crashes cited in the story. However, no driver is going to admit they dozed off at the wheel. Why would they? We showed that in the reporting. So, it's impossible to know what crashes are caused by fatigue with indisputable evidence or an admission.
12:31


Joseph Rose:
So it's hard to say.
12:31


Comment From khris
that max one and a bus one in Beaverton are only 2 I know of
12:31


Joseph Rose:
But the union and TriMet have both acknowledged that fatigue is a serious issue.
12:32


Comment From PDX Native
Have any of those commenting ever worked back to back 12+ hour days??? It's not easy. Why would anyone choose that kind of schedule? Is this a mandate from management?
12:32


Joseph Rose:
PDX Native: The union would argue, and they have, that management is working them into a state of fatigue.
12:33


Joseph Rose:
TriMet, on the otehr hand, claims if the union drivers didn't demand the benefits they get, that more drivers could be hired.(complete total crap, the new employees have no defined retirement and have the 2nd rate health insurance that the rest of us have)
12:33


Comment From Jenika
Are some people built to handle it, as the Croatian driver said?
12:33


Joseph Rose:
Jenika: I appreciated Drago Trotic taking the time to talk to me.
12:33


Joseph Rose:
He didn't have to. And I think he's a solid driver who cares about the public being served. However ...
12:34


Joseph Rose:
According to the sleepy driving expert from harvard who reviewed my data and commented on the record, no one is built for these schedules.
12:35


Joseph Rose:
In fact, as the Harvard expert said, professional drivers are more prone to go on autopilot when sleep deprived, according to his research.
12:35


Comment From al m
dont get me wrong- i think its ridiculous that the citizens have to pay someone 100k to keep a transit bus on the road
12:35


Comment From BlueBasset
Not a safe practice to "compete" for hours worked... or Monies Made.
12:35


Comment From khris
trimet has a safety dept and great computer programs but choose not to address this issue
12:35


Comment From al m
you forgot to report the time spent 'standing around' waiting for assignments-there is a lot of that ya know
12:35


Comment From khris
were mandated to 8 hour days after that we can markoff but that pisses off the company and causes no buses on the road
12:35


Comment From al m
PDX Native-you cannot get a STRAIGHT TIME run at trimet-almost everything forces you to work overtime
12:36


Joseph Rose:
So, Al, about "standing around" there are operators who show up for standby. They are clocked in and working, often not sure when they will start driving.
12:37


Joseph Rose:
But they're still at work, not at home resting or relaxing, and often "standby" is only a couple minutes.
12:37


Comment From al m
yes there is standby--extra service-they sit and wait
12:37


Comment From al m
often standby is hours too
12:37


Joseph Rose:
But I'm not sure TriMetor the union wants to talk too much about drivers on standby getting paid to watch TV.
12:37


The Oregonian:
Folks, we have about 10 more minutes with Joe. What else do you want to know?
12:38


Comment From al m
i've seen people do 6 hours stand by
12:38


Comment From Doug
I am on standby right now.
12:38


Joseph Rose:
Also, many drivers say there is no way to rest on the supplied cost and chairs supplied in the bullpen and definitely consider it "work" time.
12:38


Comment From khris
trotic never has bad days he loves his job and supervisors are suppose to do fit for duty while out in their districts and look at drivers and make sure they are good to drive
12:38


Joseph Rose:
Hey, Doug! What are you doing on Standby? When did your shift start?
12:39


Comment From BlueBasset
Wow! They get paid for stand-by hours? Seems to be way to much monetary gain to pass up.
12:39


Comment From Doug
I started at 5:45 and was sent home at 8:00 and came back at 10:45 and am following this chat.
12:40


Comment From al m
blue basset just hit the nail on the head
12:40


Comment From Alex
Standby drivers are responsible for knowing all the routes and current detours. Often being assigned a route last minute. Standby drivers earn their money.
12:40


Joseph Rose:
Khris: Cziesler, the nation's preeminent sleep researcher, says looking at a driver in the middle of the night who has had only a couple of rest before starting a new service day and declaring him fit for duty is "one of the most ridiculous things I've heard."
12:40


Comment From khris
standby is called extra service also in case a bus breaks down they replace or fill it to keep service going
12:41


Joseph Rose:
Doug: Do you consider yourself resting while you wait for a shift or at work?
12:41


Comment From khris
doug is on report waiting at garage to get work or sent home when his 8 hrs is up on standby
12:41


Comment From al m
everybody earns their money thats for sure
12:41


The Oregonian:
Joe, we've caught up with our comments and questions. What else you got, Joe and readers?
12:41


Joseph Rose:
Al: I'm not disputing that.
12:41


Comment From Doug
I'm not sleeping, but I am well rested. I am on call and ready to go at a moments notice.
12:42


Joseph Rose:
This investigation was about safety and fatigue.
12:42


Joseph Rose:
Doug: Be safe. Have a good shift.



TriMet drivers’ long days

mment From BlueBasset
No contest on whether or not given skiils "earn" their money. I was refering to getting paid to sit around on stand-by. Too good to pass up. Of course they earn their money when they're on the road.
12:42


Comment From khris
it is rest people relax until called up so I would say yes rest we can sleep or read a book or chat like this
12:42


Joseph Rose:
Khris: Several of your fellow drivers, including Steve Fung (who was quoted in the story), disagree.

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