Sunday, April 30, 2017

RISE UP AND FIGHT!

In my post "Defend Us, Don't Suspend Us!" I forgot to add we've been shot at too. Yeah, with actual bullets. I'll bet our upper management gets squirmy if anyone even raises their voice at a meeting. No wonder it moved its offices far away from the action... it's too hot for them.

I've simply had it with this kangaroo court management suspending our drivers, most of us suffering from some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, for defending themselves. According to our union reps, they totally ignore PTSD and armchair quarterback every situation. Safely, in the past tense. Study videos of the incidents and such. We can't tell an assailant, "Now wait a minute before you attempt to murder me. I have to call our GM and ask him what an appropriate response would be."

"You should have done this, not that," they say later, smugly condemning us for doing what comes naturally. Easy for them to say.

Instead of management having a caring response at our most vulnerable moments, we're suspected of wrongdoing. Many who have been assaulted are never even asked of their well-being. You'd think management would be interested in making sure we've been properly cared for. Instead, our feelings and human biology are ignored, even allowed to continue driving in service when we should be home. Then we're suspended if we vaguely resembled a self-respecting human being by defending ourselves or striking back. Instead of recovering, we have to worry if our self defense tactics will result in a suspension or worse.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD is defined as a "disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event." Most bus operators, supervisors and rail operators have it, I can assure you. These events happen every day in transit.

The NIH also adds "It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation." After the event, for months and even years later, the effects are still felt. In fact, they may "feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger."

Management, if you're reading this, I hope you feel ashamed. How many operators, after an assault of any kind, are asked to continue in service? Many of us have. The result is distracted driving. I know from experience, the event is the only damn thing you think about the rest of the shift, and often for days afterward. It's even worse when an operator is severely injured, as they wonder what they could have done differently, or how they could have defended themselves if not for being afraid of what discipline awaited. It's simply maddening that we're having this conversation, as it defies all logic and human understanding.

PTSD is real, but management ignores it. Soldiers are the biggest group of victims. While we're not faced with what they experience, we're still unarmed worker bees in a volatile environment. We can't use anything as a "weapon," or face possible termination. If we "leave the seat," we're suspended, possibly fired. We're not allowed to carry anything like mace or pepper spray. Just take your punches they say. Reasonably. Even cops say they wouldn't do our job.

WHERE IS THE UNION?

Where is the outright outrage, indignation and union strength that once beat the crap out of anyone that dared challenge it? I'll tell you where... it's gone. We're a shadow of what we once were. There is no more backbone. It seems all we do is compromise. And talk. Well I say to hell with that crap. Ten, 20 years ago, these criminals would have faced a union army for assaulting us. Management pampers the criminals and punishes the victims, the very people it says it "appreciates."

I'd like to see our union officers hit the airwaves and the print media, demanding management be held accountable for its inaction. All it has right now is a plan to cage us in. What a pitiful, weak move. If someone wants to get at us, they will. A barrier to an assailant is an insult. It simply won't work. Self defense courses would help. Plus getting off our backs and letting us do our jobs without number hacks wailing about "On Time Performance" adding to our stress would be nice as well. We have enough stress out there, and schedule shouldn't be one of them. Finishing a route safely is our number one goal, not metrics.

How many of you reading this would be able to just cower and hide if someone attacked you for no reason? Not many, I'll bet. You'd at least throw up an arm to block a punch. How many of these managers would fight back if they were slapped, punched, spit on or threatened with a knife or a gun? They wouldn't have the luxury of first watching video and discussing what constitutes the bullshit term "reasonable defense." They'd either fight back or shrivel into a whining, whimpering ball. Fight or flight is a natural human response to any threat. There's no time to rationalize the proper response, you just react. You don't have the mental capacity to determine what is "correct," you can only do as your body commands.

We're supposed to instantly short-circuit millions of years of evolutionary biology to satisfy some ridiculous corporate doublespeak.

I suffer from PTSD due to several incidents that have happened while I was operating. Some of them happened years ago, but they still pop up when I pass by certain places. Where I was once easy-going and affable, I find myself irritated and angry, sometimes for no obvious reason. It isn't a fun way to live, and my body certainly isn't taking it well. It's harder to pleasantly interact with passengers, and I have to grit my teeth when I smile at them somedays. Stress is a killer, and management seems to invent new ways of adding to what we already go through. Gee, thanks guys.

The time is now to rise up as one across the world. Shout to the media and demand we be given more respect. Insist the Beasley Doctrine be adopted, and not only here but everywhere good men and women take the wheel of a bus every day. If management can't complete this humanely-vital task, it should be replaced.

I'm tired of having sand kicked in my face. Aren't you? We're being threatened and punished by the very people whose job it is to protect us. There's more of us than there are of them, and we're the reason they have jobs to begin with. It's time to shake things up. Enough is enough.

Deke

9 comments:

  1. I guess the only thing I would interject is prompted by, "it's gone. Because not enough of us care to even show up and try to make a difference. We're a shadow of what we once were. There is no more backbone."

    This is by design of the Heintzman methodology. It's a real problem with their brand of leadership. It's rooted in incumbency, it is meant to perpetuate their control, and the motive is obviously our dues money, with which they then lavish upon themselves in a myriad of treats (such as new cars, cell phones, laptops, and lavish tropical vacations to so-called Hawaiian conventions).

    Its design is based on gerrymandering, and it saps the majority rule away from US, the TriMet workers, and gives the Hunt-Heintzman cabal their ability to throw elections, corrupt votes, and basically do as they please. When the quorum required to do business at a meeting is only 2.5% of the active members, only 25 people need to show up. To complicate matters, then comes the "continuance" meetings, where all the other properties (20+ others besides TriMet) are turned out to outnumbered us after the first Charter meeting. That's when Hunt and his goons call up all the other properties and tell them to have minimum turnouts so they can vote against our interests, and for whatever Ron & Jon want to get done.

    This is to say nothing of the fact that we, who might have turned out to the first two meetings (PM & AM) will never be informed of the turnout of the other properties, or their subsequent votes.

    This is one fouled up union, I can tell you. F.U.B.A.R.

    This is the only constructive feedback I can offer with all due respect. We members are less to blame for our lack of unity or solidarity, because our leaders rigged the democratic process against the majority - TriMet members. So, I would only admonish you to not blame us members, as the real problem with our union is its leadership, its bylaws, its lack of connection to the International (because they won't come near if Ron Heintzman is anywhere near Schoppert Hall), It's not our membership that is to blame, it is Ron Heintzman and all those who follow his leadership style.

    Just my casual observations over several decades of Heintzman's influence.

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  2. I also feel that we are divided within our union. The maintenance workers feel ripped off by the last contract so why would they fight for bus operators? The newbies aren't on the same pension plan so they have nothing in common with us. Trimet did a very good job of creating turmoil and division within our local.

    I agree we need to stand up and fight but we have to stop fighting each other. New leadership? Trimet has their busters in place. Where are ours? Seems the leaders of ATU757 are okay with the division and okay with going to arbitration. They still get paid well over 100K per year.

    Trimet wants numbers and facts. ATU757 has nothing to provide other than demands and past practice. That doesn't cut it in the world today. Trimet provides solid (true or not) numbers to back up their case against the union. We have nothing.

    Time for new leadership that can beat them at their own game. The assaults on operators could be used as a bargaining chip but I hear nothing but crickets from our leaders. Disgusting.

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    1. Maybe I'm one of very few, but as a new operator under the new pension plan I still agree, we're all getting the short straw. Maybe it's just me because I'm a huge supporter of organized labor and know what it's like to see a union beat down until it's so buddy buddy with management that it doesn't stop the company from forcing their employees retire to put newer lower paid employees in their place, something I saw my father go through.

      To be honest, I'm not sure I have a 100% proven solution to fix the problem because most unions haven't recovered from hostile "right to work" legislation and union busting. Especially in this current political climate, it's going to be more important than ever that whatever we decided to do is not done out of division, but out of solidarity.

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  3. Excellent work! Wonderful essay!

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  4. You guys look into just filing a class action lawsuit at this point against Trimet? I have PTSD myself from year after year of public school bullying and the educational industrial complex said, "Oh don't fight back". Yeah well... I'm now on Social Security Disability, thanks so expletive much. I'd rather be packing a 4-year degree from UofW and/or working for Sound Transit & teaching at Sound Transit University.

    The only way to get a corporation - i.e. Trimet - to listen - is to sue them. So sue them.

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  5. Well said but don't forget your fellow drivers that have retired. They are out there all alone. United we stand.!!


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    1. I will never forget those who paved the way for the rest of us!

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  6. The union is only as strong as its membership
    You need to get involved in order to get it to change .

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  7. WERE OH WERE DID OUR RIGHT TO STRIKE GO???

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