Thursday, April 23, 2020

The case of Ryan Viken

Ryan had been advocating for more appropriate actions for operators regarding this corona nightmare. This has lead to certain problems with the management. I was very familiar with these types of problems when I worked there too!! Funny how the faces change but all the policies don't. If anything they just keep getting worse and worse! His case is starting to look like this case in EDMONTON CANADA

Ms.  Wittman,  Below is the reply sent to Ms. Larson regarding the time change for the April 15, 2020 meeting at Merlo.  The reply was sent by me on April 13, 2020. 

It is clear from the email that Ms. Larson received it, as the time change was made from 11:00am to 1:30pm.  At this time, I cannot determine if you received the change request with my appeal to have the meeting recorded. 

Since it appears the District chose not to record the meeting for transparency, accuracy and accountability as I requested, for me, this raises serious questions.  All employee meetings where discipline, up to and including termination should be recorded (audio at minimum) to insure the integrity of the disciplinary process.  By doing so, it will assure all parties involved are guaranteed transparency, accountability, accuracy and fairness.  All phone calls made from any TriMet phone must be recorded.  No exceptions.  All calls made by any manager to an employee for any reason, must be recorded. 

At TriMet, it is my view (and I assure you I am not the only employee that feels this way), the reason disciplinary meetings are not recorded is because the District or Manager has an agenda and pre-determined fate for the employee under investigation.  Many times I have sat in meetings representing employees where serious mitigating circumstances were raised, including where claims by the ridership, including third party allegations, were flat out lies against the Operator.  The video proves the claimants claim is false, yet management still holds the Operator accountable and will likely use the occurrence (SIP) against the Operator at a future date to show a pattern.  If you, Mr. Kelsey or Mr. Warner do not see the value in recording disciplinary meetings, I believe this raises serious ethical questions regard those that are running the District.  I am confident the public will agree with me on this point.  If you believe I am not correct, let’s ask the public.  I believe transparency is better than secrecy. Ms. Wittman, do you agree that transparency is better than secrecy?  Please comment.  Mr. Kelsey, TriMet General Manager, do you agree that transparency is better than secrecy? Please comment?  Mr. Warner, TriMet Board President, do you agree that transparency is better than secrecy? Please comment. 

If you agree like me, going forward (starting April 23, 2020), I strongly recommend that all disciplinary meetings must be recorded in show impartiality, transparency, accountability, and accuracy.  The meetings must be recorded to protect the integrity of the disciplinary process. The meetings must also be recorded to guarantee fairness for the District and the employee.  And finally, all disciplinary meetings must be recorded to protect the truth.  Ms. Wittman, Mr. Kelsey and Mr. Warner, if you do not agree with me, and it is your professional opinion that secrecy is better than transparency and accountability when it comes to operating a business, please let me know.  Please provide your response in writing so there can be no confusion as to your position.  Please understand.  It is very important for all employees, including our ridership, the general public and the taxpayer, that we all know who is running TriMet, and what they believe in; Secrecy? Or Transparency?  Again, please understand.  I look forward to your reply.  My goal is to do my part to help make Trimet better for the employees, our ridership and those communities we serve.  Please join me.  I know we can do better, together vs working against each other.  Do you agree? 


Al M said...

As always, thank you for speaking up for many of us!! I guess I shouldn’t be “surprised” by Ms. Wittman’s answer….but I am. I have met her and know she herself is not against recording (or at she wasn’t… as it was done at Union Pacific; where she worked previously). The City of Portland also records disciplinary meetings (but not full investigation, because they do not record witnesses). I do know she has adapted to TriMet mgt. ‘culture’ of sticking together…quite quickly; right or wrong. However, truth be told, I wish our fellow union members would stick together as such!! Well, not the “wrong” part…but should have ALL the facts before judging etc. I sort of laugh at the “evidence” part. It’s their word against ours….that’s their evidence? Yep. I am so thankful you have an eye witness to this encounter with Ms. Cook!! For all Operators, and/or other union members

I think both they and the union do not want recording, because it would hold them accountable as well (not just the “lowly Operator”). I guess the biggest “evidence” of that, is they have cameras AND AUDIBLE on us…for “investigations;” yet don’t want to do the same for DISCIPLINARY meetings? That is SHADY!!

Al M said...

I am sorry to see all of the scrutiny that you have been put under. It’s funny how Tri-Met management policies when it comes to dealing with riders are grey/vague in nature. Not wanting to offend anyone for fear of retaliation(lawsuit) Yet when it comes to the employees, Tri-Met seems to have a very black & white way of dealing with us. It’s not what you do when everyone is watching, it’s what you do when no one is looking !!!

I have been here for almost 5 years, and sadly Ryan, your story is just one example of many operators that have gone through this process. The real question is how can we(employees) change the narrative in order to create a better and more just discipline system in which we are judged under. I think the time of having to read another example of “unfair” treatment is over. How to we make/create change has to be the next evolutionary step. Whom do we have to talk to, whom do we need in our corner. These situations will only change if we find a way to make/demand them to. Definition of insanity “don’t the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result” The time has come to change the narrative.

Al M said...

I did want to finish off saying…For all Operators, and/or other union members, make sure you have an eye witness always. Just have an eye witness to anything with mgt. right now; until it is clear, we have the same goal… best transit system ever! It can never be the “best,” as long as we have no transparency and no accountability from leadership; as long as this mgt. group cannot distinguish between right and wrong. At one time, TriMet was considered one of the best transit agencies in the country. It was a time when Union Members worked together with Mgt. to achieve common goals, that benefitted ALL. Yes, there was discipline, but for patterns of wrongdoing, in a short amount of time. The letter Ms. Wittman gave to Ryan, showed instant prejudice and intimidation. There was no “pattern of wrongdoing” (or “wrongdoing” of any kind). Keep your mouth shut, or you will get disciplined and/or terminated. In spite of all of this…I know that most of us, including Ryan, still do the best job we can. Not because of TriMet’s scare tactics….but because, that’s who we are! On a side note…When I sent questions to “Employee Communications,” and they come back, in part, saying Ryan is their ‘favorite line 56 Bus Operator’…that speaks volumes. It wasn’t ‘vague’ lip service. It was “genuine.” Refreshing and encouraging in this time of crisis.

As for disciplinary meetings, if they don’t want to record meetings, they may have issues with the eye witness as well (thinking union rep is good enough)…but I think the more witnesses, the better. If possible. I would love to think all are honest, but that is clearly not the case. I once told my union rep., they accuse “us” of ‘lying,’ because they (TriMet and union) do it so often, with each other and/or against us; they think we ALL do that. Whereas, I believe most of us “common people” are honest, and just want to do the best we can. We also would have no issue with being recorded….because we have nothing to hide!!

Ryan, you are not alone in this “fight!” There are so many that are fearful for their families, themselves…looking at New York’s transit workers deaths, etc. It is just unconceivable to me, that our management is using the threat of termination, to an exemplary employee, based on his concerns for this disease. Of course, we all know they used that threat against another Operator, for hanging up a CLEAR shower curtain, for PROTECTION from this disease. Management is not EXPOSED like we are….and apparently has no empathy…REAL empathy and/or concern. Blows my mind!! Where is the humanity? This may be a “form” letter….but at this time of crisis? Poor form (and that’s an understatement). I am thankful for the media attention on some of this, and hope for more. I wish TriMet would admit their wrongs (like they expect us to do)…and just correct them. It shouldn’t take media attention for TriMet to do RIGHT. Not PR….DO THE RIGHT THING.

Thanks again Ryan, for bringing this into the light. I wish I had all employees emails, so we would all be better informed. I did add some to the list…but don’t know too many of them. I don’t want to use TriMet’s system, as I don’t know if they would censor. I just hope we ALL come out of this alive and well.

Al M said...

Those were all comments left to Ryan