Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Henry Beasley

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Just a quick note on operator assaults, the numbers.  During the meeting last night I wanted to express to our representation that any further communication with the public needs to address members as human beings.  So far the communications concerning assaults are at best ancillary and did not express what our survivors go through when they find themselves at the receiving end of those who want to do us harm.  We go to work to earn a living to support our families and our personal ways of life, we don’t expect to be assaulted for just doing our jobs.

When we allow members to be scapegoated as non-human beings, we allow the company to dictate who we are; expendable equipment.  Humanizing members should always be the goal of every union body and in our union that should be no different.  Currently we are being complicit in creating a narrative that blames front line workers as anything but just doing their jobs, an example fares.  I’m clearly not going to get into that because it would take pages and pages to explain the minutiae of this problem.  Instead of that we should discus policy and how it needs to change to better protect our members.  

It’s a shame that during the meeting our representatives provided nothing but silence on the matter which is disappointing that our side does not have our best interest at heart.

The numbers:  As reported in the general public
• 2010 – 34
• 2011 – 26
• 2012 – 19
• 2013 – Nothing reported publicly but more than 11 at the time of the assault in North Portland.
• 2014 – 28
• 2015 – 41
• 2016 – 26 as of June, up 46% over last year (as reported)

In 2013 the company made a statement: 

So, using the company logic and simple math, they’ve had 95 chances to provide reasonable safety for the operators.  But as I’ve also stated, we are complicit in doing the exact same thing as the company and forgetting that members pay dues that pay salaries that goes to protecting members from wrong doing.  We need to talk policy that provides reasonable safety to the frontline worker.  If “safety is a core value” then prove it.

One of the things I think get misplaced in the bigger picture is we need a visual/verbal look at our situation.  I think this recording should be played at board meeting to express what we go through when we find ourselves on the receiving end ( of someone who wants an excuse (any excuse) to do us harm.

Henry Beasley
Your Brother on the Front lines


Tonya J said...

I've thought of applying for Tri-Met in the past, and wondered, as a rider for many years here and in Seattle and San Diego what the reality is for a woman, especially if she's driving at night. I actually did just apply and was invited to the initial group interview but after stumbling on to this blog and this post and this video and am strongly reconsidering.

I've been unemployed since the end of 2014 and moved back to Portland in early 2015 and still can't get a job offer; I am very skilled at what I do. That's why I thought I might give this a try, being an excellent "car" driver.

Could I get a truthful gut response? Should I just not try this based on safety concerns? They say their training is great, blah blah, but now, I don't know if the union, the benefits, etc. are worth it.


Al M said...

Nah, go for it!

Go with your eyes wide open tho!

You know what to expect if you've been reading this blog

Lots of people have decent careers at Trimet

Jason McHuff said...

If you've already done the work to apply, I'd try it. Especially if you lay low and don't give bad riders a reason to be angry at you, the chances of something serious happening to you are pretty low. Many incidents have started with the operator trying to be the boss and calling out riders when they can't control them. You don't have that much to lose and you can see after a little while whether it's worth it.

Is the job and benefits what they should be and were it was in the past? Maybe not, but an upside is that people are advancing very rapidly right now. You used to be stuck at the bottom for years and now people are able to go full time before their 6 month probation is done.

Lastly, remember that you would be one of hundreds and working by yourself. So if you do your job and don't cause issues, you can ignore the stuff that goes on.

Al M said...

The odds of you suffering physical assault are small if you know how to treat people

My lady is a 25 year veteran Trimet driver and has never been threatened. And the reason for that is she TREATS PEOPLE LIKE SHE WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED.

the riders are not 'scum' or 'derelicts'

They are human beings many of them suffering

If you can understand that you most likely will never find yourself in danger

Tonya J said...

These are great responses - thank you. That video of the woman from 2013 was horrifying; to be assaulted for refusing someone a transfer. We weren't there, we don't know if there was provocation on her part, but it didn't seem warranted, at all. It seems like the bus drivers should have an enclosed area like the Max drivers and only have to come out to help disabled riders or fix technical issues, but I guess that's too hard to construct for a bus (limited room).

Jason McHuff said...

to be assaulted for refusing someone a transfer

And if you value yourself first and foremost, give them the transfer, log it as a fare evasion and move on. It's not a big issue at all. But some cities do provide more physical protection for operators.

Unknown said...

Do not blame the employee, there are rules. There is a bigger picture of failure on the employer side than is publized.

By all means apply, but like AL said "eyes wide open." The employees will be there to show you what "saftey" is and not sugar-coat it.