Monday, June 4, 2018

Ryan Viken: Secretary-Treasurer Candidate


Deke's Note: Challenging the sitting Secretary/Treasurer is Ryan Viken, the guest of this post.

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Ryan Viken
Candidate for Secretary/Treasurer

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 Ryan Viken and I am running for ATU 757 Financial Secretary-Treasurer. I am doing so because I believe in all of you-past, present and future. I am a proud member of the ATU 757, currently serving as the Executive Board Officer at Merlo Garage. I am the first ever, mini-run bus operator ever elected to the ATU 757 Executive Board at TriMet.

What makes me the best choice for Financial Secretary-Treasurer? Leadership, Education and Experience. After graduating from Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration, I have a proven 25-year track record with positive results, in both the public and private sectors. In addition to five years as an ATU 757 member, I have more than seven years’ experience owning, leading, managing and operating an intensely, customer service oriented business in Portland. I was responsible for all aspects of the business, including revenues, operations, finance and accounting, marketing, vendor and contract management, costing and inventory control. Additionally, I performed all human resource functions including hiring, wages and salaries, employee advancement, retention and dispute resolution. I was responsible for the development and implementation of clear revenue, customer service, operational and safety objectives to insure company goals were achieved.

Nine years spent in international business dedicated to managing relationships between multiple parties, including contract negotiations with a focus on attention to detail. As a Business Representative, I was responsible for consistently generating in excess of three million dollars annually to meet company revenue objectives while managing contract negotiations, review and administration of financial instruments.

Ten-plus years as a mentor, instructor and coach, most of which spent at the Tigard - Tualatin School District (TTSD). My proven success in both the public and private sector combined with firsthand knowledge gained as an ATU Executive Board Officer, will enable me to be effective as Financial Secretary-Treasurer.

Why do I want to serve in this capacity? Simple – I believe in this Union and our Membership. As an E-Board Officer, like it or not, we have serious challenges both internally and externally facing our Union. Based on listening to our membership over the past several weeks, I do not believe continuing on the same path will benefit our members going forward – it’s time for a positive change.

My objectives are:
To proactively utilize my role as Financial Secretary-Treasurer, through open communication, transparency and accountability to rebuild and strengthen member trust in ATU 757 leadership.
To protect and fight for all ATU 757 members to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions.
To expose management’s abusive practices and hold employers accountable. To bridge the gap between ATU International, ATU 757 and local members.

2) What do you believe to be the membership’s main concerns moving forward through 2020? How would you work toward improving these areas?
From property visits to Eugene, Corvallis, Salem, Canby, Vancouver as well as several Portland area locations, the primary concern raised focused on the lack transparency, communication and financial reporting from the Union Office.

As Financial Secretary, you are solely responsible for all aspects of the local’s finances with respect daily operations – income and expenses. You are responsible for financial reporting at the local, including financial compliance with ATU 757 International/Audits. All financial information must be transparent, accurate and timely to insure sound decision making by the ATU leadership.

To address the members’ concerns, the first thing the Financial Secretary must do is return to the practice of having hard copies of monthly financial statements/reports available at Charter Meetings. Second, be responsive to member questions/concerns regarding union expenditures. Union dues are paid by its members. Members have a right to have their specific questions answered with respect how their dues are spent. Third, visit properties quarterly to address member questions or issues.

If elected as your Financial Secretary, I pledge to rebuild and strengthen member trust in ATU 757 through open communication, transparency accountability and timely financial reporting.  

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?
As an operator, I do believe the barrier can be a part of the solution. A pro is that the barrier can immediately provide both protection and a sense of security to the operator. The con is that the barrier does limit the connection and interaction between the operator and passenger.

With that said, OPERATOR Safety is PRIORITY #1. Our Operators must be safe. There are no easy solutions to the assault problem facing transit employees – no silver bullet. To reduce or stop this escalating problem there needs to be an ongoing commitment between labor, management, law enforcement and community leaders to work together to identify and prioritize all available options to address this epidemic. If elected, I pledge to work with the local ATU leadership to leverage the strength of the ATU International to seek out what’s working at other locals nationwide.

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?
As an Executive Board Officer, I have been able to present substantive, serious issues to management with successful outcomes. This is because of education, training and practice that I received prior to joining TriMet. It is all about understanding the issues that are important to both parties and presenting them in such a way that management has no other choice but to take our concerns seriously. Most TriMet managers do not know even understand what they are doing, let alone why. Using this strategy has proven highly effective for several members that I have represented.

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?
The local media message is only controlled by management because UNION leadership has allowed it to happen. To address this issue, we need to have a plan. We need the right leadership in place to effectively get our message out to the public. Again, it’s about understanding your audience and adapting our message in a way that humanizes what we face each and every day as transit professionals.

6) Social media is a very active and volatile tool within our membership. How will you use it to communicate with US?
If elected, I will use social media when appropriate. Because of volatility, while social media is a very useful tool, it can also be destructive. I will use it constructively to communicate the message of the ATU 757 for the benefit of our membership.

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.
I do believe the arbitration and grievance process is broken. With that said, it’s important for members to recognize that the arbitration/grievance process is dependent on both, the Union and Management working together to resolve issues in a timely manner. Going forward, our Union leadership must hold management accountable for the timelines set forth for the arbitration/grievance process in the Working and Wage Agreement. In the past, the timelines have not been enforced. From my experience at the ATU, the way to improve this process starts with education and training for officers and stewards. Our goal is to resolve member/management issues prior to arbitration if possible.

8) What’s your favorite union movie, and why? 
Not a union movie – but Erin Brockovich  –  Fighting for what’s right. Exposing those that commit crimes and or wrong doing against the people…..unafraid. Willing to do the work for what’s right.

9) How do we get more members involved, attending meetings and adding to the overall discussion?
The problem is the meetings themselves, not with the members. With that said, this should be an easy answer, but, in reality, it is not. The member will not attend a meeting if they do not see the value in what the Union provides. This is a BIG issue that must be addressed immediately upon the new leadership taking office.  Ideas are welcome from all members- it’s your UNION!

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.
Deke, there are many critical issues facing our members. One that is really causing extreme issues for members is the use by the primary employer contracting out vital functions of the organization to third party firms. For example, TriMet uses Reed Group to administer FMLA/OFLA with respect to attendance and time loss. TriMet uses Corvel to administer Workers’ Compensation.  These relationships are out of control. 

IF ELECTED, I WILL WORK WITH THE NEW UNION LEADERSHIP, TO THROUGHLY REVIEW THE CONTRACT BETWEEN TRIMET AND THE REED GROUP, INCLUDING ANY/ALL FEE SCHEDULES BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES. WHAT IS HAPPENING IS DEVASTATING TO OUR MEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES. I WILL INSIST ON TOTAL TRANSPARENCY OF THE WORKING AGREEMENT BETWEEN TRIMET AND THE REED GROUP. 

IF ELECTED, I WILL WORK WITH THE NEW UNION LEADERSHIP, TO THROUGHLY REVIEW THE CONTRACT BETWEEN TRIMET AND CORVEL, TRIMET’S WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ADMINISTRATOR, INCLUDING ANY/ALL FEE SCHEDULES BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES. WHAT IS HAPPENING IS DEVASTATING TO OUR MEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES. I WILL INSIST ON TOTAL TRANSPARENCY OF THE WORKING AGREEMENT BETWEEN TRIMET AND THE CORVEL.


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