Deke's Note: Ugh. Another week finished. Last week was tough but ended with a blissful Christmas. I chose Thursday/Friday off so I could enjoy the holidays. This week, I finish this horrid '20 with a blistering blast and what could be.
"The only good employee is a scared one," our HR head told ATU 757 Local President Shirley Block.
"The only good management is one which thinks about those who work the wheels," is my reply.
It's time for a change, a drastic one. While some in leadership positions are earnest, hard-working and dedicated, I believe they have not a single positive clue. TriMet in Portland needs someone to shift transit's priorities toward better support mechanisms. Those who share the "bottom tier" are those who make the wheels roll. We now suffer a multi-layered management which has no oversight. It expects the impossible with no consequences for its own poor decisions, yet metes out punishment aplenty for those who struggle through miles of disrespect each day. It's a recipe for failure, and that's where 2020 left us. Floundering along darkened streets with nobody to lead or inspire us in our nightmarish existence. No wonder Dougie's leaving us... he's overwhelmed with American insolvency like the Canadian one he fled.
That's Corporata as it runs transit, folks. No imagination, no inspiration, no forward movement. Only reaction and negativity, where positive encouragement is most necessary. It is time for instant, drastic intervention by those who do the dirty work.
Instead of a flow chart, I propose we redefine the wheel. Operations Union employees are the most integral and important in any transit agency. Put us in the middle of the wheel. Each connecting spoke should be supportive departments, with their actions radiating inward towards the core. As it stands now, we're at the bottom of a corporate hierarchy that supports the upper strata rather than those who need the life-sustaining air at the bottom. The higher you climb, the less oxygen.
Vital employees do not need coddling. Conversely, we are worthy of this (and any) agency's Herculean efforts to ensure the utmost respect.
We are legally prohibited to strike in Oregon, rendered weaker with each contract negotiation. Why we allowed this to happen confuses us all. What it does illustrate is that management has gradually declined from a Safety First environment to a Discipline First one. Had we the right to strike, our bargaining position would be infinitely stronger. We do not have that powerful tool, so we are rendered insignificant. Instead of garnering respect, we are treated as abused children in a horribly dysfunctional family.
- An Operator was recently suspended for defending himself too vigorously when attacked. What the fuck is "too vigorously" when Humanity's Fight or Flight Syndrome is in effect? Who the hell decided an Operator's well-being is less important than a passenger's felonious act? Some inept lawyer, I'll bet. An overpaid one, to be sure.
- Numerous Operators have been suspended for not wearing their masks. Hey, we all have to blow our noses, take a drink, or be understood by someone who reads lips. Of the entire Portland Metropolitan area, save for medical or police or fire personnel, transit operators are "under mask" the entire time we're in uniform. The public has a penchant to complain about us without reservation, let alone common decency for what we go through on a daily basis without COVID hanging over us. To add insult to our many injuries, they have delighted in tattling on us any instant we can be seen without our masks. Conversely, we have not the same power as they when an un-masked passenger boards except for a lame statistical-based computer message "Mask Refusal".
- Earlier yesterday, Center Garage had to cancel over a dozen runs due to a lack of operators. Why? Because of unnecessary suspensions, disgusted resignations and retirements related to Mangement's mis-management of transit. We are fed up with their nonsensical support of a whiny public over an over-worked and ill-compensated workforce. Hence, the lack of Extra Board Operators. Additionally, I know I am one of hundreds called by Station Agents to work on our Regular Days Off who say "HELL NAH! FIVE DAYS IS ENOUGH, BRO!"
- Suspension-Happy Management is screwing itself. With fewer operators to cover shifts they eliminate with their ridiculous edicts, the public suffers along with the maligned operators who have proven themselves many times over by rolling through this pandemic wasteland. Gee thanks for your support, management.
- Mindless Upper Management Wannabes ride transit for free and secretly call in complaints on Operators with reckless abandon. Given "leadership's" wanton recklessness in encouraging people to complain even when they haven't the slightest clue regarding decades-old transit customs which were once solidified as LAW. Many an Operator has fallen victim to these anonymous/dickless whiners who often lie or stretch their complaints in an all-too-often ugly light shining on the innocent as their guilt overpowers the most blinding glare.
- Our Maintenance/Mechanical Workers are truly those who make the wheels roll before we take control of them. Their decades-old, proven Maintenance Apprenticeship Program is on the chopping block of yet another ignorant Corporata-structured management, with no solid evidence to back their downward swing of the axe. When you want things done right, you must train from the bottom up and with an emphasis on long-held traditions of excellence. Hiring from the outside brings in people with their own misguided ideas, without the benefit of transit-based traditions behind them. This is a simply-misguided union-busting plan of a bunch of corporate bobbleheads who rarely get greasy unless they change the oil on their own overpriced luxury cars. Given their bloated salaries, this is more rare than a beaver purchasing flood insurance during an Oregon winter.
Give ME a chance. I will turn it around the first few days after the TriMet Board of Directors does the first progressive thing it ever has by hiring ME as the new General Manager. I will not only shake their heads mad with my flurry of a first week, I will completely shatter the past few decades of destructiveness with hundreds of changes meant to support frontline workers.
WE have done the work management takes credit for, even through its lame attempts to proclaim our dedication. WE are who management should work FOR, not a self-entitled and spoiled public. Thousands of people would like to ride transit, but whenever they test the waters they're met with those who disrupt the system yet are protected by ridiculous edicts which tie the hands of those who should control it. Thus, the declining numbers of passengers the past decade. People are not encouraged to ride transit when the worst are favored while the responsible are ignored. Fuck you whiners who say minorities are "unfairly treated" in fare inspections. Bullshit. EVERYONE is asked for valid fare, even ME.
Why would any responsible adult WANT to ride transit in Portland when only the trouble-makers are catered to? It confounds one to realize management favors the worst riders over those who fuel the local economy. It's also maddening that the self-righteous groups hoping to enable the least-productive have more power to shape transit policy than those who depend upon our services to move them safely to and from jobs which positively-effect our economy and collective well-being.
It's time for a major, PROGRESSIVE change in transit management. I WILL provide it, guaranteed. It will take pissing off the least productive to promote the most. Yeah, I've been homeless too. However, I busted my ass to earn that roof over my head and provide for those who depended upon me. Save for a few months of public assistance, I have always provided for my loved ones. Anyone with any degree of work ethic has, or would, do the same.
I would work for less than the Corporate Failures who have run our agency into the depths of disgust and despair. My next posts will outline my plan for success. If you read them as I write, I'll bet dollars to Doug's Donuts you'll have to agree. I only hope enough of you will spend the time to read my posts, absorb what I have to say, and climb aboard the Hope Train. Without your support, we're doomed to the same ol' same ol' and the worst of what follows.
The job description for GM will be full of Corporata Wants Minus Transit Necessities. Even so, I will apply with my lifetime of degrees from the College of FuckedOver BLUE Collar U. Along my travels, I have been the dogged employee of Small Business, Large CorporateAmerica and Public Transit. Each of these steps, I've been told to bend over and just take what they give. My butt is sore, and I'm tired of being used. Aren't you too?
It's time Working America took over. We have seen what happens when we allow otherwise. It only leaves us bent over with a sore asshole.
Share this post. Use the hashtag #Deke4GM. I would work for YOU. I AM you. No matter what city you roll your bus wheels through, I am truly the grease within your drive wheel's lug nuts. Just like Thomas Dunn was when his throat was slashed by a passenger. He died in the seat. I don't want to, and neither do you.
Peace, through whichever deity you love. I wish you happiness whatever religion you praise, no matter who or how you love, or whatever political party you support. Drop everything, and we're all the same. I want to lift you up to the heights your efforts truly deserve. It's about damn time one of US did.
Happy 2021. Hope it beats the hell out of this horrific '20.
With love and respect, I am your
Deke N. Blue