It really irks me every time we have this debate with management and supervisors. "What did the operator do to escalate the situation?"
We workers need to become much, much more argumentative against systemic causes to increasing incidents of violence against us. For example, it's not the operators fault the news media quotes our managers calling us, "Rich, $100k/yr, platinum Cadillac pension benefits-for-life bus drivers." Operators haven't spent the last 20 years brainwashing the public into feeling entitled to the same "Customer Service" as they expect from a waitress or a bell hop. It was the management who took away our 8-corner uniform caps and silver-shield badges. It was the management who took away the "Tri-Met's Most Wanted" posters from the bullpens. And, it is the management that values it "family" with merely one grand for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a perp.
NO! Every time they point their shaming finger at an operator for inviting his own assault, there are at least three fingers pointing back at the true culprit of the crime.
It is time for us all to expect more safety and operator security for our public transit dollars. After all, if a transit operator is not secure in their seat the public is not safe around public transit. It is not the bus driver neglecting to be transparent and accountable. Hell, we don't even rate a flimsy sneeze guard to protect us from the virulent abuses of the untouchable!
PUBLIC SAFETY IS OPERATOR SECURITY (S.O.S.)
It is district managers who must be called to account for neglecting their obligation to provide a safe working environment for our transit workers. It is Directing Board members who hide behind white vales of legitimacy by their gubernatorial appointments. Where is the citizen oversight not blinded by district PR propagandists? Is our transit district government-by-consent, or is it a billion-dollar rogue bureaucracy complete with its own taxing authority and police force?
Honestly, I love my job. If I didn't I wouldn't have stayed seated for it for over 25 years. I have agreed to the bargain. I have kept my shoulder to the wheel and my nose to the horn button, faithfully trading my blood, sweat, and tears in turn for a respectable wage, decent medical benefits, and the security of a modest pension in my old age. Yet, it is my employer who has defined my contribution, sabotaged my work station, and refused to compensate me fairly. I will have devoted over half of my lifetime to the secure conveyance of my passengers, to value-added public service excellence, and to the safety of all the communities I where I drive. Yet, the bosses of the company are not my family and do not deserve my help to recruit more blood for the front line. I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemies.
You are my family. You are my friend, my neighbor, my union brother and sister. I work for you. I work for the 99 percent who do respect my trade and willingly stand behind me in the face of danger and abuse. We choose to make public transit a vital part of our civilized society. We value the safety of our communities and treasure the security of our families. TriMet's bureaucrats make a mockery of all that we hold dear, by paying nothing but lip service to our standards for public safety.
TriMet's workers are shepherds of public safety sacrificing daily for the common good.