Deacon Who?

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(Note: Ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily shared by the transit agency I work for. This is simply an expression of free speech while describing the work bus operators perform.) I have been (and called) many things in this life. Most of all, I'm a writer who happens to drive a bus. In May of '13 I thought it would be fun to write about my job. As a direct result of this blog, I published a book in November of 2017 called "JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane" that is available on Amazon. I write to provide insight as to what it's like on a bus... From The Driver Side. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

VP Candidate Profile: Gordon Duncan

DEKE'S NOTE: Gordon Duncan, a Powell Garage Bus Operator, is running for ATU 757 Vice President. His is the second set of answers I've received.

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Gordon Duncan, VP Candidate
1) Who are you, and which office are you campaigning for? What makes you our best choice? Why do you want to serve in this capacity?

My name is Gordon Duncan and I am running for the office of Vice President Assistant Business Representative. I feel I am the best Candidate because I bring 14 years experience in ATU 757 positions ranging from Shop Steward, Liaison, to Executive Board Officer.

My sole purpose for stepping up and getting involved was to see that every member has the opportunity to grow and work in an environment free of intimidation and threats of discipline from employers who think we are just a number not a human being. To be that bridge between management and employee to help both sides understand each other. I wish to serve as Vice President because I feel our local has lost its way when it comes to our members. I would like to be a catalyst in bringing our members voice back to leadership's attention. We have grown so much as a local but left a lot of members behind.

Communication has been lacking as well as understanding just what the issues are at each property. We need to re-evaluate our priorities to our members and move to resolve them, something which I feel has slipped by the wayside. I have always been vocal as to the needs of the membership and will continue to do so. We face so many challenges in the future and need to start now to be ready for those challenges, not when they happen. Our local needs to be proactive, not reactive as we have been.

2) What do you believe to be the membership’s main concerns (from your office’s perspective) moving forward through 2020? How would you work toward improving these areas?

Communication with its members on human rights issues, working conditions, discipline, contract violations (grievances). Assaults (which I will address in the next question).
I would work with the leadership and officers to be engaging with membership, making regular property visits that will allow members to talk directly with leadership on hot topics concerning them. We must take those back, and put a plan of action together with property officers, shop stewards. I believe actions speak volumes and shows you have heard and are willing to act on the concerns. I also believe if we show that we stand with them not ahead of them we will get members to be more involved in meetings and special events.

3) Assaults are on the rise every year. Do you believe operator barriers are the answer? What are the pros and cons of the barriers? What else could be done to stop this escalating problem?

This one is close to my heart. As one who has twice been assaulted while preforming my job, I believe we as leaders need to do more to bring pressure on employers to take this ever increasing issue seriously. It does not matter what type of assault it is, an assault is an assault. It is demoralizing when we have slow response time do to lack of area coverage from supervisor or police. The barriers are only a stop gap. Laws need to get tougher, and our international leaders need to actively get involved on this issue. Employers need to work with the union to put a program in place that helps those who are assaulted. This can be a traumatic event in most cases, and needs special attention.

4) Since we cannot strike, how can we ensure that our union membership concerns will be taken seriously by management? Do you have any creative strategies to ensure constructive dialog and positive actions?

This a tough one because I believe we need to actively try to reinstate our right to strike, to at least work towards changing the arbitration procedure. Baseball arbitration does not work and in Washington state they have a style that the arbitrator can choose those thing from both side and form a contract that benefits both sides and keeps the interest of the public also. This would entail lobbying the legislature for change. Otherwise we need to use our public relations/media guy to bring major issues to the board of director and to the public. Our local has not been real receptive when it comes to changes in these areas. I would like to see this change.

5) The local media message is controlled by management. How do you propose to engage the media and help the public understand the issues we face?

We now have a media person on payroll and he needs to be used more, or at least write up some creative messages for our leaders to take to the media. Also, we have been slow to respond to management media messages. This has to stop, we need to act fast with a response that is factual not the shoot from the hip response. To gain credibility with the public and local leaders we have to present our union as professional, and knowledgeable on the topics.

6) Social media is a very active and volatile tool within our membership. How will you use it to communicate with US?

Social Media can be a tool to engage and inform members from all locations. We just need to be careful because we have all seen it get way out of hand. Not all stay within the rules of professionalism. I would really like to see us explore this avenue of communication with caution. We still need face to face interaction to keep things real.

7) Members are upset with the arbitration process and how the union communicates decisions to the membership. Is this process broken? If so, please state your ideas on how to improve arbitration procedures.

As I mentioned earlier yes it is broken, our members deserve solid up to date information. I do believe that if we do they can handle changes that can occur during negotiations. We need to work on changing the process of arbitration or regain our right to strike.

8) What’s your favorite union movie, and why?

Well I am not really a movie guy, so 9-5 lol. At least management got his. Ok ok you got me!

9) How do we get more members involved, attending meetings and adding to the overall discussion?

Easy, open communications, regular property visits, show concern for what they do every day. We are all in this together. Fast response time on calls or emails. Don't project yourself as better or above members. And just for the record, this is a two-way street, members need to realize that this is their union and we work for them. Respect goes both ways.

10) I’ve only asked questions on a few points. Please let us know what other issues you believe are vital as we move forward.

Jannis is now in the Supreme Court being heard. If this goes against unionized labor it could be very bad for unions. One way to keep it from becoming our downfall is to get re-engaged with our members. I feel we are already behind the ball on this. Without our members support we will not make it as a union and management will surely take full advantage of it. We have to take it seriously and not down the road but now. Also, we need to improve relations with employers so as to have effective dialog in things that concern our members as well as negotiations.


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