May 2020 ATU News Bulletin

May 2020 ATU Bulletin

ATU 1576 has five properties, six contracts and membership continues to grow! We are pleased to share this edition of the ATU 1576 Bulletin, to keep our members informed of the news and events of the entire local.


We at Local 1576 are heartbroken over the loss of Brother Scott Ryan, a CT Coach Operator who passed away on March 26th, 2020 due to COVID-19.  Scott leaves behind a wife and three teenage children, and our hearts go out to his family. Our local lost a member, dear friend and Shop Steward who will be deeply missed.

During the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, leading up to this tragic event, ATU reached out to all our properties and demanded that they commit to NEVER sending any operator out in the field without safety supplies like disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves and access to properly stocked handwashing facilities. Unfortunately, supplies very quickly ran low to the point of being inadequate and our members were deeply concerned for their safety. 

In response to the lack of supplies at most of our properties, ATU 1576 put together a team to make supply kits for members. The team went to work immediately gathering supplies- such as purchasing batch made hand sanitizer from local distilleries, and locating other items like gloves and disinfecting products.  Additionally, teams of people volunteered to sew face masks for our members.  Pierre Sarey, Jay and Darcey Lont, David Thompson, David Gibson and many more members and friends, spent countless hours gathering desperately needed supplies and distributing them to all of our properties.  We  simply can’t thank them enough!  Going forward, ATU is continuing to maintain our ability to provide these supplies if and when we come into a shortage again. 

The ingredient list and ratios on the hand sanitizer ATU is procuring for members through a local distillery are as follows:  80% Alcohol, 1.5% hydrogen peroxide, glycol and distilled water.  This is in line with guidance from the CDC for effective ingredient ratios in hand sanitizers. 

Since early March, President Kathleen Custer and Vice President Dani Julien have been in daily contact with all of our properties.  We have established frequent communication with  Congressman Rick Larsen and the Governor’s office. Kathleen has been involved in weekly conference calls with all Presidents of  the ATU Northwest Conference, as well as speaking weekly with the International President John Costa.  In addition, Kathleen and Dani have a weekly scheduled meeting with the Community Transit response team, which included Directors of the HR, Risk, and Operations departments on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  These meetings have been vital to communicating our needs for improved safety protocols and in receiving guidance on our Local union processes.  

Bidding of work has been postponed at all properties.  This is in line with the guidance we received from the ATU International and all other locals in the Northwest conference.  The agreement at CT, is that a full bid will take place when service is restored, if that happens before the September bid.  Postponing our bid process is obviously not ideal, however, we acknowledge that there will be delays in our normal processes as we work through how to safely conduct business.  We are working to find good options going forward this fall. 

Our local has been keeping Labor Representative Lance Norton appraised weekly, regarding working conditions at Community Transit and their subcontractors, as well as Island Transit. He sits on the Board of Directors at CT and Island Transit and has been making very specific statements with respect to safety and working conditions.  We greatly appreciate his advocacy and deep concern for this membership. Keeping the Board updated with Labor’s interests, is an important way of maintaining accountability at our agencies.  Thank you, Representative Norton! 

We truly appreciate ATU 1576 Recording Secretary Laurie Boyd, who is in the process reaching out to all our members with a phone call, to provide updates, ask for feedback and get updated contact information.  This is a big task that Laurie has been diligently working through. 

Other Business of our Local: 

  • New Financial Secretary Treasurer Dave Thompson travelled to the Tommy Douglas Center in Maryland in February, to attend the Financial Secretary Training.  Since taking office, we have been very impressed with Dave’s ability to navigate the bookkeeping software and his hard work reconciling the membership roster.  Dave has also been instrumental in making sure that we have the financial resources available to purchase vital PPE for the membership, which we greatly appreciate!        
  • President Kathleen Custer and VP Dani Julien spent two days in arbitration, May 14 and 15, for a long-term Dispatcher at Island Transit who was wrongfully terminated.  This was the first arbitration we have conducted online via Zoom. Prepping for this arbitration’s witnesses and exhibits took a great deal of time, and ATU attorney Anne Silver did a fantastic job presenting the facts to the arbitrator. We feel very strongly about this case and hope to have a decision in our favor by the end of July. 
  • Due to the COVID-19 service cutbacks, First Transit Lakewood has been forced to furlough 21 out of their 76 members.  The union agreed to  allow a voluntary furlough to high risk operators, and thereafter the furlough was based on reverse seniority. 
  • LYTX/DriveCam Updates: 
    • First Transit Lakewood: after FTL notified us that they intend to implement this new technology, the union immediately demanded to bargain. They have agreed, but bargaining is currently on hold. Drive Cam is only being used for coaching and counseling, no discipline has been issued.
    • First Transit Everett: FTE has refused bargain this technology. We filed an Unfair Labor Practice against them, but this is on hold as the courts are not hearing any cases right now.  
    • Community Transit has initiated discussions with the union about installing DriveCam on a trial basis, but currently everything is on hold. 
  • Negotiations for a successor agreement for First Transit Lakewood Supervisors and Dispatchers have been on hold due to the Stay at Home order.  We have a member meeting for this group scheduled on Sunday, June 7th at 1 :00 PM, to discuss the company’s last offer, and how we intend to proceed.   
  • ATU 1576 and our bargaining team have scheduled to resume contract negotiations at Homage via Zoom, on June 24th. Homage has a new interim Director of Transportation, Arin Ricchiuti.  Previously, as the Director of Finance, Arin was involved at the bargaining table and we have been impressed with her advocacy for hazard pay premium for our members during this COVID-19 crisis. 
  • The contracted para-transit work that Homage does for Community Transit is being put up for bid.  CT has made the decision to put out a mid-term Request for Proposals from competitors such as First Transit.  ATU fully supports Homage in their bid to retain this work.  Homage has been a staple in Snohomish County for over 47 years, providing important services to older adults and people with disabilities. Homage provides meals, health and wellness services, home repair programs, and many other important things in addition to meeting vital transportation needs in our community.
  • Community Transit has agreed to pay First Transit Everett employees Premium Pay for work during the Stay at Home order. This additional pay is primarily funded by Community Transit, with ten cents on the dollar being provided by First Transit. However, FTE is refusing to follow CT guideance and apply the hazard pay to all our members who report for work.  Other non-driving work groups at First Transit are receiving hazard pay for working at base, but our members whose bid work was cancelled are required to report to work on stand-by status and are not given premium pay. We disagree with this decision and are exploring our options on this.  
  • ATU 1576 is due to begin contract negotiations with Island Transit, as the contract expired this month. However, we have had to temporarily suspend the normal process while the Stay at Home order is in effect. The ATU International requires that all Locals meet with members to solicit feedback for the bargaining team to consider with respect to items we will be proposing, prior to convening negotiations.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to complete that process. We are exploring our options for virtual meetings; please stay tuned for more information on this. 
  • The settlement checks for the Class Action Lawsuit were mailed to CT coach operators on April 10. This concluded a three year long process initiated by ATU 1576 regarding Wage and Hour Law violations. Coach Operators donated time for pre-trip inspections and other duties performed off the clock which they were not being compensated for.  We would like to sincerely thank the named plaintiffs in this case, who were willing to stand up for everyone: Lisa Burdett, Darrell Johnson and Lela Perkins. We appreciate you! 
  • We are in line to open negotiations with Community Transit in July. We are in the process of identifying ways to solicit feedback from the membership, keeping in line with the International requirements.  Stay tuned for more information on this in the near future!