Saturday, February 2, 2013

Union statement on working hours agreement

The transit workers’ union recently learned that some bus operators were not getting adequate rest between work shifts. The Amalgamated Transit Union immediately proposed that each operator have a minimum ten hour off-duty period between the end of one shift and the start of a new shift. Today, TriMet management, following two lengthy discussion sessions, accepted the Union’s ten-hour proposal. “This is about passenger and public safety as well as bus operator health,” said Bruce Hansen, president of the union, when announcing the agreement. “Most bus operators drive that bus because they like the people they serve and want them to be safe.” Hansen said.

The new agreement is temporary and will automatically expire once there is a new labor agreement in place. “Both parties know the public is deeply concerned about this issue, so the pressure will be on both of us to incorporate a complete and final hours of service policy into the new labor agreement.” Hansen said.

One problem the parties did not resolve today is the fact that some operators have workdays that span almost fourteen hours. “All the studies show that long workday spans lead to more accidents and absenteeism,” Hansen noted. “Urban transit driving has been found to be the most stressful profession. That’s why bus operators are disabled and die younger than other workers. It doesn’t make sense for people in a very stressful job to work such long hours. They pay for it with their health and it is unsafe for the public,” he said. TriMet management is to put the agreement in final form for the parties to sign on Monday.

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