Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Trimet is hiring! Should you apply?

Since Trimet was incorporated over 45 years ago there have been over 7000 people who have been employed by the agency as bus drivers. Every single one of those people have had their own unique experience behind the wheel at Trimet. No two people have the same exact experience.

My experience for example was completely atypical for the vast majority of drivers. I was actually a good driver and  had some affinity for that job. But that job morphed into much more than driving a bus for me and eventually lead to my demise. It wasn't the driving part that ended my career over there it  was sticking my nose in all sorts of places where a bus driver is not supposed to be sticking their nose. Under the reign of Fred Hansen I was pretty well tolerated but under the reign of the current ruler, Neil Mcfarlane, and his 'get tough' policy on drivers things went rapidly downhill. When 'they' stopped treating me like a person and started treating me like an employee who is supposed to  'do as you are told' my anarchist tendencies started prevailing. The more they pushed me the more I disregarded their directives. And so my career ended in a  somewhat anti-climatic  manner. I did retire on my own volition, I was never given the option to 'retire or get fired' like many people are over there.

Why am I bothering to say any of this, over 4 years after I departed the agency? Because if you have been reading my material all this time you are reading my UNIQUE EXPERIENCE. This is not the experience of most people so you can't go by what I am saying.

Should people apply? Well, it depends on what your options are. Trimet has been a life saver for many people that have had no other options, and they should be recognized for this. If you're not a technology expert of some sort the truth is there are limited options culturally available for you.

So what are the upsides?

1-Decent pay, but you have to wait three years to get it.

2-Acceptable benefits. In the past Trimet offered one of the best health care plans and a defined pension. Alas all that is gone. But the benefits they do offer are better than no benefits and are pretty standard in public service now.

3-Chance to advance within the agency. There are various jobs such as supervisor, dispatcher, etc that drivers can move to. Some even move into non union management positions.

4-If you like people this is a great job because this is one of the few jobs where you will meet the entire gambit of humanity. For me that was the best part of the job, the riders. I never got tired of meeting riders and hanging with the riders. It was like a mobile coffee shop on my bus with an assortment of 'regulars' just riding around for the hell of it.

What are the downsides?

1-It takes 3 years to get to middle class wages. That's unfortunately standard in the industry. Management takes advantage of their "labor" like this. Management nickles and dimes their "labor"for everything they can. Meanwhile the managers live a very comfortable life. Standard in the USA right now.

2-Unpredictable lifestyle. Every 3 months drivers choose new routes  and Trimet keeps changing the composition of those routes so you never know what you will be doing. You can work early mornings (4am) or light nights (2am). You won't get any holidays off for awhile and it takes about 20 years to get Christmas week off so you sacrifice a lot.

3-The job can be hazardous to your health. There are a lot of crazy people out there and they are unpredictable. If you don't know how to handle the public you should be somewhat wary of this profession. If you lack empathy for people you are definitely at a disadvantage. But if you know how to treat people the chances of you being physically assaulted are pretty small. 

4-Trimet can be an uncaring institution. As with all large institutions, the people at the bottom are pretty much forgotten and treated like numbers. There is a myriad of policy's that you can run afoul of and end up getting 'called into the office'.

So in summary I would say yes, apply for the job, just do it with your eyes wide open. If you've been reading this blog you know what you will be facing. Trimet won't tell you any of this during the training. You have to find it all out for yourself.

My time at Trimet changed my life forever, that is no exaggeration. I wouldn't have traded it for anything.


Jason McHuff said...

The job can be hazardous to your health.

What about the ergonomic issues, the diesel exhaust, the stress, the lack of being able to readily use the restroom, etc that cause health issues?

On the positive side, the qualifications are pretty low--just a good, non-commercial driving record and some experience working with the public, which many people have.

Al M said...

Yes, all those too. Thanks Jason.
I was worried that maybe I have been pounding too hard on Trimet and that may have seeped into the culture and stopped some good people from applying.

That is not what I intended

Chris Day said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Day said...

Congratulations to all of our soon to be new hires who will now make $14.25 an hour for their first 6 weeks and then will be at $15.63 for the following 6 months. To be honest I feel that our starting wage should match First Student’s starting wage of $16.00 an hour. For those who might not know, First Student is part of our union as well. Our union officers also permitted First Student to raise their new hire rate $13.96 to $16.00. I feel that both First Student and TriMet new hire rate should at least be equal and at $16.00 an hour. There are many things that are taking place just on this subject alone and I hope members will take enough interest in this to help get our union on the right track.

Here is some of what we have gained by allowing this rate increase take place. For the first 6 weeks new hires will make an extra $729.60. This will be very helpful for a new hire. This will help pay our union’s $225.00 initiation fee and monthly dues. At the end of the 6 weeks our new hire will then get a rate increase to $15.63 but will no longer be training at full time of 40 hours but will then be part time. So for the first 6 weeks a new hire will make about $570.00 a week for the first 6 weeks and then go to making about $468.90 a week. Most likely the shifts will be split so they will have to travel to work twice in a day or stick around work the entire day. After that 6 months if our new hire doesn’t move up to full time then that member will get a raise to $18.42 which will bring the weekly pay to about $552.60. This means the first 6 weeks a new hire will make about $570.00 a week. The next 26 weeks or so our new hire will make $468.90 a week. At about week 32 or so our new hire will receive a raise to $552.60 a week bringing that member close to the money that was being made the first week of being hired.