June 12, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Union officials ask LTD to respect their workers

5 min read
With so many great employees, Lane Transit District may need to move from recognizing one employee each month to one each week. Bill Bradley told how a bus operator saved a passenger's life during a medical emergency and how another bus operator separated two groups of youths about to start fighting.

Union officials offer public comment at the Lane Transit District Dec. 13, asking LTD to treat its IT (Information Technology) workers with respect.

Shirley Block (President, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757): Hello, everybody. My name is Shirley Block. I’m the president, ATU 757. I’ve been in transportation for 48 years. I started when I was 10.

[00:00:22] I heard you talk about the employee recognition on the 28th (of January). I was in negotiation today with IT, and I wish to build a better relationship with LTD. We seem to be on the right track, but we’ve been getting railroaded from time to time.

[00:00:40] Today in the negotiations I got a text message send by one of the twelve locals that got this large amount of budget money that we can give to transit agencies to help build relationships between the transit company and ATU, and I really want to look at LTD to do that. I’m working with TriMet, they’re going to send somebody down to the opening of this grant funding, which will be on the 27th of January.

[00:01:10] Unfortunately, we will miss this employee appreciation, but today I did not feel appreciation at all in that room. And so I just want to open up that and say that to everybody and bring it to your attention.

[00:01:23] These folks work hard for everybody, not just IT, your frontline people, they worked through COVID. We helped. We did everything possible to keep the company rolling.

[00:01:33] So respect your employees. That’s all I’m asking you to do. Help and respect your employees. They work hard for you. They’re individual people just like you.

[00:01:42] We are not greedy unions. I have 28 properties that I represent in Oregon and Washington, and I don’t have a problem with any of them, except one person. I won’t name no names because I’m a nice lady. I’ve got on my Christmas sweater.

[00:01:55] But anyway, I would like to say, please respect the people that work for you. That’s what I came down to help in negotiations, and I haven’t been in board meeting in quite some time. I wanted to show my face and say, thank you for what you do.

[00:02:09] Bill Bradley (Executive board officer, ATU 757): Hello. My name is Bill Bradley. I’m the executive board officer for ATU 757 for Lane Transit District. So, that means I’m elected here by the employees here to represent them directly…

[00:02:23] One thing that we have here at Lane Transit District is just a bunch of great employees… Obviously, they’ve done stellar work, but we get employees that, you know, we can’t recognize them all. We get to choose one a month, and I think there’s other ones that come up and we need to find a way to highlight their contributions to the community.

[00:02:40] One was a bus operator. She was out driving a bus and a person had a medical emergency on her bus and that operator recognized what was happening and to the shock of anybody decent, nobody else on that bus was going to help this person. Everybody was kind of like, ‘What do we do?’

[00:03:01] This person’s obviously needing some assistance down there and everybody looked to the operator.

[00:03:06] And I hear lots of comments, I hear sometimes, just maybe just uninformed, the excitement out of policymakers about automation, and what can we do to get these drivers out of these buses.

[00:03:19] But I tell you, if that driver was not in that bus, that person would have died. Because of her actions, that person was able to have vitals and make their way to the hospital and survive.

[00:03:30] Another operator just a month ago or so was sitting at the transit center, and we always told people that bus operators are the eyes and ears of the community. They’re always looking out. They’re always noticing things if they’re off. We see everything every day.

[00:03:43] So he was sitting there, he looked over to his right. He saw a pack of youths that was shooting for a scuffle. They were right there in front of the customer service center. And it looked like the situation was going to go downhill.

[00:03:57] This operator was able to get out of his seat, walk over to these youths, break them up, say, ‘Hey, hey hey,’ you know, ‘Go your separate ways.’

[00:04:06] And it turns out, there was a weapon involved and the situation could have got quite ugly. Could have got quite ugly for the person that was going to use the weapon. It could have got quite ugly for the person that was going to be on the receiving end of that weapon. It could have been quite ugly in terms of a LTD media campaign, news stories, whatever could have happened in that situation.

[00:04:21] But because of the actions of this operator, none of that happened and nobody would ever know about it. It would be something that none of us know.

[00:04:28] And so, like I said, we have a plethora of good people to talk about. I just want to be able to highlight a couple of folks that who along the way we’ve been unable to recognize. So that’s what I was going to reserve my time for today.

[00:04:40] I would echo Shirley’s comments about the IT contract. We’ve been talking about IT for almost three years since the beginning to bargaining now. I think we’re going down a line where we’re finding some agreements. It’s just one thing we’re not finding is persistence to stay engaged at the table, to actually get a deal.

[00:05:01] Anytime it gets hard, folks walk out the door. We need to stay. Nights, weekends—we need to get this done. We can’t walk away when it gets hard, when it feels uncomfortable, when it gets aggressive. That’s how a deal gets done. If you’re not going to do it, it’s never going to get done. So we’ve got to stay there.

[00:05:24] That’s my comments for today. Thank you for everything you do. And we’ll talk to you soon.

[00:05:37] John Q: Union officials share stories about some of LTD’s unsung heroes. They also encourage the board to see that the deal gets done.

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