Thursday, May 28, 2009

Take Back Our Union (TBOU) Program for RTO

No lunches and inadequate breaks. Petty write-ups and excessive penalties. These are part of life on the road. And they are connected.

A few years ago, the Toussaint team proclaimed it had “smashed” the TA’s disciplinary machine. They promised a 70% reduction in write-ups. They lied. It didn’t happen.

With so many T/Os, C/Rs and TW/Os getting written up or held out of service, elected reps spend the bulk of their time in hearings or trying to get members back to work. Reps tied down at 2 Broadway or 130 Livingston can’t be at the terminals or on the tracks helping enforce adequate breaks or challenging petty supervisors. It’s a vicious circle. Workers who are pushed back down the road without sufficient breaks or time to eat lunch are more likely to have an incident or to book off rather than deal with the BS. This leads to more write-ups and more work at Labor Relations. This ties the officers down, leaving management a free hand on the road.

The Toussaint team could have addressed this problem by building a strong stewards network on the job. Instead, Toussaint pulled the plug on the Local’s stewards program. So, no matter how hard the reps work or how many hearings they win little changes on the job.

Take Back Our Union includes experienced and effective reps. We know that, no matter how many cases we win, the key to reducing write-ups and improving our working conditions is strong representation on the job. And that requires a commitment to training large numbers of union stewards AND educating the membership about their rights and how to enforce them.
Taking back our union from the Toussaint team is only the first step. We also have to take back the initiative from management. To do that, TBOU will:

• Train all officers and safety reps to aggressively enforce the contract and safety rules.

• Train and deploy stewards throughout the system to challenge supervisors who deny their crews adequate breaks and lunches.

• Develop education programs so that members know their rights and how to enforce them. There won’t always be a rep around when you need one. Improving schedules will require that all members in RTO know how to assert their rights.

• Revive the Flagging and Work Train committees to deal with the unique issues faced in Subdivision C.

For more information and to stay updated on all RTO and transit news read the blog at daily.

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