Tuesday, August 5, 2014
What TriMet Really Says: “Work Sick or Get Fired”
Bruce Hansen, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union is astounded at the statements being made by TriMet's public relations department in response to the whooping cough scare. "The statement quoted in the Oregonian that 'when it comes to working sick, the agency simply asks employees to stay home if they are feeling ill.' is so far from the truth that it's stunning," says Hansen. “The real message to the operators is 'come to work or you lose your job’– period.”
Hansen notes that full time operators earn 108 hours a year in their sick bank, while part time operators earn an average of 72 sick leave hours. Yet, TriMet's current contract proposal is that full time operators be subject to the disciplinary process when absent 40 hours in one year and a part time operator at 24 hours absence in one year.
"Given that many operators work 12-13 hour workdays, that means full time operators would be threatened with discipline if they have 3 days of absence in a year, part time operators at less than 2 days,” says Hansen, adding, “And 90% of the one-day absences are NOT covered by OFLA or FMLA,"
Hansen states that transit operators are always sicker than the general public--for good reason. "TriMet operators transport 100 million people a year. Many of those people are traveling to doctor appointments because they are sick. Many of those people are homeless and ill. And all of us are cooped up together in a small space. Absolutely, sick operators should stay home but the TriMet management culture is "No matter what, keep on schedule so we don't get bad press."
Hansen noted that there is a good side to TriMet's press statements. "We will definitely use their contrary statements to the media and the public when we have to defend our members who get sick and take the day off in order to safeguard the health of their passengers."