Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the last installment on operator assaults, I expressed that the laws the company and the union cited on the busses were incorrectly worded and “is” not a felony unless the vehicle is moving (ORS 163.165). Since I wrote that we can now add another category of assault against our operators and that’s sexual assault.
If you find yourselves in a situation of a passenger assaulting you (regardless of the cause) I will reiterate what I said since 2011. “I implore my fellow Brothers and Sisters, who find yourselves “victims or survivors”, of these crimes against you to”:
1. Report these situations to Dispatch, Supervisors, peers and managers immediately.
2. Remove yourselves from the situation i.e. the bus/vehicle.
3. Fill out the report as soon as you can, with as much detail as you can remember.
4. GO HOME; this is where you can fully recover from the crime that was committed against you.
Your health and well-being are most important to you, your family, friends and fellow members. We are out there by ourselves and we need to support each other in these situations. This also goes for fellow members that are not on the front lines, remember, be aware of your surroundings, keep communications open, report things out of the ordinary while you are out there doing your jobs.
I must also address our respectable supervisors (Road/Dispatchers); you are also part of the solution to this ever ignored issue that operators must face sometimes on an hourly/daily basis. In the sexual assault incident, the operator was allowed to continue driving. As a supervisor, your job is to access if the operator is SAFE enough to operate a bus “after” (in this case) they had a crime committed against them. In this case the driver was allowed to make that decision with PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) in case some of you did not know what this is then here is a quick description:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don't have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.
As far as I know the company does not provide training on how to access if an operator is capable of driving with diminished capacity (the legal term: A contention of diminished capacity means that although the accused was not insane, due to emotional distress, physical condition or other factors he/she could not fully comprehend the nature of the criminal act he/she is accused of committing). In this situation the operator was just sexually assaulted and our untrained supervisors allowed them to continue operating a 40ft 40ton vehicle with clarity of thought and actions. If a supervisor (Dispatch/Road) is just following their Managers’ directives/SOP and keep the busses moving then there needs to be changes due to the obvious SAFETY and or liable (responsible or obligated) issues. Since neither our supervisors (Dispatch/Road) are trained in understanding the terms that I have used, then I would suggest that We always side with safety. Ask yourselves this; is it safe for an operator to continue to drive after a crime has been committed against them while doing their jobs? Ask yourselves this as well; will I except the liability for that operator who may or may not cause further harm to themselves or their passengers and or the general public? Then it is simple, pull that operator off the line due to safety; although there may or may not be a replacement driver WE still have to side with safety.
For those who were at the union meeting this latest incident was actually mentioned by one of our reps, I must commend them for stepping up to the plate and try and be a part of the solution. I must say this though, “if you were not a friend of the member for at least 20 years, would you have stood up?” During the election cycle, I had the pleasure of meeting them in person and having a conversation for what seemed like hours and they are a nice person that represents our union well and hopefully we will remain friends. BUT, I had to scream at everyone who had/have the opportunity to make change and failed our membership by burying their heads in the sand while our members are beaten and spat upon by God knows whoever; without so much as lift a finger. I called out EVERYONE for their failure to do anything but ignore member’s needs and then have the nerve to talk about solidarity in the same breath, for that I say BULL#@#. If you are not interested in helping then abdicate the position that you covet and go away. For far too long this union thinks that its only there for collective bargaining, but apparently you have forgotten that there is so much more to leading a union then a title you covet; because as soon as you took that position it stopped being about you. While some may say that I’m just mad that I did not win; for you I say this, “What if it happened to you or what if it happened to your loved one that works in the industry?” “What would you like your union to do?” You pay for them to work for you then you deserve to be assisted in your time of need, that’s the definition of solidarity that this union is lacking.
So for the rep that stood up asked for help and ideas on a solution, I decided to step up and lend my assistance to whatever it takes to solve this ever ignored issue; although you have received my correspondence since the beginning. Time will tell if this union is ready to step beyond the garbage we continue to find ourselves in; but make no mistake I will continue to advocate to all my brothers and sisters in our union (regardless of property).
Your brother on the Front lines