SMART_logo_041712_thumbnailCampus shuttle operators for the University of Tennessee’s transportation service chose the SMART Transportation Division as their collective bargaining representative in a representation election April 16.

Of the approximately 50 eligible voters, 26 voted for SMART, 10 voted for no union representation and 13 chose not to participate in the election

The operators transport students, faculty and staff throughout the 550-acre campus located in Knoxville, Tenn., and will provide rides to more than 814,000 passengers per year.

SMART Transportation Division Director of Organizing Rich Ross and Alternate Vice President – Bus Calvin Studivant spent nine days on the campus just prior to the vote, engaging operators in discussions about their needs and answering their questions.

The operators are employed by First Transit, Inc., based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“The good news for this group of operators is that Calvin is close to finalizing an agreement for the First Transit group at Rutgers University that we organized in December and will be negotiating this contract with the same labor relations officer,” Ross said. “Hopefully, due to their familiarity, they can reach a mutually acceptable agreement quickly.”

Bus operators for Rutgers University’s inter-campus bus and shuttle system seeking union representation overwhelmingly chose the SMART Transportation Division Dec. 9 as their collective bargaining representative.


Train and engine service employees on Birmingham Terminal Railway – a Watco property – have voted to be represented by the SMART Transportation Division.

Rich Ross, SMART Transportation Division’s director of organizing, thanked Alabama State Legislative Director Neil Elders and International organizers Mike Lewis and Calvin Studivant for their efforts. Also assisting in the organizing drive were Local 622 Chairperson Justin Humphries and Local 622 Vice Local Chairperson Jacob Lane, whom Ross praised for “their dedication and hard work during this campaign.” Ross also thanked International staff member Cara McGinty for her assistance.

Formerly known as Birmingham Southern Railroad, the 76-mile line provides service to more than 30 customers in the Birmingham, Ala., region, and connects with BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

By Calvin Studivant, 
Alternate Vice President, Bus Department – 

The relationship between railroads and bus companies has a long history not known by many UTU members.

Beginning in the early part of the 20th century, railroads began acquiring or creating infant bus lines to extend their passenger networks to where rails didn’t reach.

In 1926, Great Northern Railway (now part of BNSF) acquired control of a Minnesota bus line that had begun earlier in Hibbing with a seven-passenger Hupmobile whose capacity was actually 18 as passengers often stood on running boards and sat on fenders.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus operation, where the UTU represents workers, traces its origin to early bus operations of Southern Pacific (now part of Union Pacific) and its former Pacific Electric subsidiary. 

In fact, the formation of the Greyhound and Trailways brands began with railroad ownership:

* Baltimore & Ohio (now part of CSX) operated West Virginia Transportation, which became a Greyhound brand.

* Great Northern (now part of BNSF) operated Northland Greyhound.

* New York Central (now part of CSX) operated Central Greyhound.

* New York, New Haven & Hartford (later part of Conrail, which was split between CSX and Norfolk Southern) operated New England Greyhound.

* Pennsylvania Railroad (now part of Norfolk Southern) operated Pennsylvania Greyhound.

* Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (now part of CSX) operated Richmond Greyhound.

* St. Louis Southwestern (now part of Union Pacific) operated Southwestern Greyhound.

* Southern Pacific (now part of Union Pacific) operated Pacific Greyhound.

* Union Pacific operated Union Pacific Stages, which became Overland Greyhound.

As the Greyhound system grew, other railroads — Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, Chicago Burlington & Quincy, and St. Louis-San Francisco (all now both part of BNSF); and Denver & Rio Grande Western (now part of Union Pacific) – created the National Trailways System as a competitor to Greyhound.

By the 1960s, railroads had sold off their interests in bus lines.

However, when railroads turned over their rail-passenger operations to the federally owned Amtrak, Amtrak became a partner with many bus lines across the nation. Today, many Amtrak tickets include onward transportation via bus from Amtrak stations to cities not on the Amtrak route system.

And in some cities, publicly owned transportation companies now operate bus and commuter rail service, such as the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, where the UTU has representation on the railroad and a portion of the bus/trolley operation outside Philadelphia.

UTU-represented school bus operators in Upper Darby, Pa., and members of UTU Local 172, turned back a raid by the Teamsters, voting overwhelmingly to keep the UTU as their bargaining representative on this First Student property.
The UTU’s ability to negotiate industry-leading contracts, process grievances and achieve workplace safety improvements were cited by many members as the reason they voted “UTU yes” once again. Local 172 members chose the UTU as their first bargaining representative eight years ago when the property was unorganized.
Rich Ross, the UTU’s director of organizing, credited organizer Mike Lewis and Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant as “a brain trust second to none in explaining the benefits of UTU representation.”
Ross also thanked International President Mike Futhey for providing the resources necessary. Since Futhey took office in January 2008, the UTU has organized 28 new properties and turned back two raids on UTU properties.
Also singled out for praise were numerous officers at Local 1594 (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), including President Waverly Harris, Vice Local Chairpersons Brian Caldwell and Curtis Fulmore, and Treasurer Cynthia Kelly-Nash, along with Local 1596 General Chairperson (Transit Management of Charlotte, N.C.) Alvy Hughes.
Local 172 officials who worked diligently to turn back the Teamsters raid were Vice Local Chairperson Denise Hall and Secretary Kathy Sitongia. Ross said that “they have developed a loyalty among members.”

By Calvin Studivant
Alternate Vice President, Bus Department

When reading about the conservatives’ attack on mass transit in the House of Representatives, all I can ask is, “What are they thinking?”

With gas prices rising to record levels, even low-wage workers who own an automobile can’t afford to drive to work; and for the millions of low-wage workers without an automobile, their only means of going to and from their jobs is by mass transit.

Yet mean-spirited conservatives in the House of Representatives are pushing legislation that would scale back federal funding for mass transit. Moreover, they want to prevent transit systems from using a portion of the federal funds they do receive — and which previously were earmarked for new equipment — for retention of curtailed service that would bring furloughed employees back to work.

Equally mean-spirited is legislation encouraging transit-system privatization, which would open the door for non-union operators eager to pay substandard wages and eliminate employee health care insurance and other benefits.

One conservative lawmaker is seeking to remove any requirement for shuttle-van operators whose vehicles cross state lines from paying even minimum wage or overtime. We can be sure that if this provision is enacted into law, an effort would follow to apply the legislation to bus and transit operators.

Congratulations go to the UTU’s District of Columbia Legislative Director Willie Bates, a member of an Obama administration Transit Rail Advisory Committee , who is working to draft language creating standardized federal safety regulations for transit system nationwide – an effort staunchly opposed by congressional conservatives.

Never in my career have I witnessed such mean-spiritedness by members of Congress. Our National Legislative Office is working diligently to educate more moderate Republicans on the potential danger to public safety and the economic well-being of working families from these harmful legislative attempts.

Each of us has an obligation to help in this effort, by encouraging our coworkers, families and friends to register to vote and vote in November in favor of labor-friendly candidates. UTU members also can make a difference by joining the UTU PAC, or increasing our donations to the UTU PAC. 

We must make our voices heard on Capitol Hill – for the sake of our jobs, our economic security and the millions of Americans who depend on public transportation to take them to and from work.


By Bonnie Morr
Vice President, Bus Department

The UTU has gained a new First Transit property in Farmington, N.M., which is now in Local 1687 out of Albuquerque. Contract negotiations have begun.

We also are in the initial stages of organizing some 200 workers on a transit property and a light rail property in Southern California.

I am currently assisting Local 1741, whose members are employed by First Student in San Francisco as they prepare for two arbitrations, including a discipline issue and a workers’ compensation issue. In both cases we are seeking reinstatement of the members.

With assistance from the International Law Department, we recently completed a trial at the National Labor Relations Board over an unfair labor practice at a UTU property in Riverside, Calif., which had been closed without holding negotiations.

We are seeking from the NLRB a severance package for the 135 members who lost their jobs. Final briefs are due in mid-February.

Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant has been working with Waverly Harris, general chairperson at Local 1574 (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) on numerous grievances where they have settled seven of 10 without having to go to arbitration.

At Local 1715, which represents drivers employed by Charlotte Area Transit System, a driver was reinstated with full back pay after Calvin Studivant defended the driver in arbitration.

In Washington, we are facing a battle with legislation introduced by the House Republican majority attacking transit operating assistance and pushing for privatization that would permit foreign-based operators to enter the U.S. market and access federal transit aid.

This legislation also attacks 13(C) protections of the Federal Transit Act that we worked so hard to protect. They require continuation of collective bargaining rights, and protection of transit employees’ wages, working conditions, pension benefits, seniority, vacation, sick and personal leave, and other conditions of employment, as well as paid training or retraining, when federal funds are used to take over a transit operation.

The UTU National Legislative Office and other transit unions are working to halt this attack, and donations to the UTU PAC will provide additional assistance in this election year.

By Calvin Studivant
Alternate Vice President, Bus Department

As we follow the demonstrations of the 99 percent against the greed and wealth of America’s
top one percent, I am reminded of a 1967 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in which Dr. King advocated a transformation “from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.”

Each day jobs are exported from our shores, layoffs are announced, health care insurance is cancelled or scaled back, and pension plans are eliminated, I feel the pain of the millions of fellow Americans who are fit, willing and able to work, yet unable to find jobs — or, if they do, cannot earn enough to support a family, much less afford adequate medical care. They, and we, are rightfully angry when corporate profits become the most important objective.

Unemployment numbers hardly reflect the full pain in America, because unemployment numbers do not reflect the millions more who, after years of searching for a job, simply gave up looking, or the millions more in part-time employment without benefits because they are unable to find full-time jobs.

How much more painful it is to realize that employers, emboldened by the worker pain of our times, are using economic hardship to frighten those with jobs against voting “union, yes” in the workplace.

In Congress, we see lawmakers more interested in protecting tax breaks for the very wealthy than passing stimulus measures to put Americans back to work; and proposing legislation making it more difficult to join labor unions.

It is unconscionable that Congress eliminated funding for high-speed rail construction that could relieve the intolerable congestion at airports and on highways and create thousands of new jobs.

It is equally unconscionable that Congress resists requests for more flexible transit funding to allow a shift in budgets from buying new equipment to using some of those funds to retain and expand existing service that would end transit system layoffs.

As we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy this month, let us realize that he advocated not only racial harmony, but economic opportunity and trade unionism.

In response to anti-union politicians and employers, Dr. King preached: “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining. We demand this fraud be stopped.”

As we approach Election Day this November, let us unite in support of labor-friendly candidates. Let us support our UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and our UTU PAC. Let us do this in the non-violent but aggressive spirit of Dr. King.

The strength of working families today is at the ballot box. There is so much at stake, for ourselves, for our families and for the millions of Americans seeking a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. United in solidarity we can make a difference with our votes. There is  no better, more productive and more effective way to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

bus; CATS; CATS busCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Members of UTU Local 1715 have ratified a new agreement with Charlotte Area Transit by a three-to-one margin.

The new contract provides for wage increases, freezes employee contributions to health care insurance, restores travel time, adjusts work rules as sought by the membership, and adds a retiree health care plan.

Negotiations were led by General Chairperson Kevin Moss and Vice General Chairperson Hasson Trent, with assistance from Calvin Studivant, who is alternate vice president of the UTU Bus Department.

Studivant praised the efforts of Vice Local Chairperson Donnell Taylor, Local President Bruce Wright, Secretary Bill Brown and former General Chairperson Brenda Moore, along with Glennie Holland, Cheryl Brown, and Derrick Moss, and UTU International organizer Mike Lewis.

By Calvin Studivant
Alternate Vice President, Bus Department

In late August, a federal appeals court vacated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule requiring electronic onboard recorders.

The court said the rule does not sufficiently protect drivers from being harassed by employers to remain at the wheel when they are fatigued. The final rule was scheduled to go into effect in June 2012. A lower court, which had set aside a challenge, was told to revisit the case.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the FMCSA “needs to consider what types of harassment already exist, how frequently and to what extent harassment happens, and how an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier will guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment.”

As a member of the FMCSA advisory committee, I previously voiced concern over this rule, and it is comforting that our concerns were recognized by the appeals court. I expect the lower court will instruct the FMCSA to revise the rule to include better driver protection.

Also of interest to our bus members, the National Labor Relations Board has instructed all carriers subject to the National Labor Relations Act to inform employees of their rights to organize and be represented by a labor union. This will certainly help in our efforts to organize the unorganized. See the separate article on this ruling elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper.

Turning to news of our bus locals, members of Local 1715, Charlotte, N.C., recognize the quality of UTU representation. In recent weeks, three members were returned to work following successful processing of their grievances.

Additionally, the UTU has prevailed in 14 grievances that put $1,000 in back pay into the wallets of each of these Local 1715 members.

We also have begun contract negotiations with the carrier on behalf of Local 1715 drivers. As part of this process, we are restoring respect lost while represented by another organization prior to the UTU representation election victory earlier this year. We are in the process of delivering improved working conditions on the Charlotte property by modifying tentative contracts agreed to by the other organization.

Local 1715 also has completed its local elections. Kevin Moss was elected general chairperson, Hasson Trent was elected vice general chairperson, and Bruce Wright was elected local president. We are very proud of these new officers and the members.

Also in negotiations is Local 172 in Darby, Pa., where Vice President Vic Baffoni is assisting at the bargaining table. 

WASHINGTON – When UTU Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant was appointed to a 20-member congressionally created Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee earlier this summer, he was no shrinking violet.

Studivant had serious concerns about a proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that would require certain motor carriers, including interstate bus operators, to implement use of electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) to monitor driver behavior as a safety tool. Supporters of the rule reasoned that EOBRs would help assure drivers don’t exceed hours-of-service limitations.

Studivant, however, was concerned that the requirement – notwithstanding its good intentions — did not include sufficient safeguards to protect drivers from being harassed by employers to stay behind the wheel to maximize driving time under hours-of-service limitations even when a driver felt fatigued.

But the rule already had been approved by the agency prior to Studivant’s appointment to the advisory committee, and it was scheduled to go into effect in June 2012.

Last week, Studivant’s position was validated by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the FMCSA “needs to consider what types of harassment already exist, how frequently and to what extent harassment happens, and how an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier will guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment.”

When the FMCSA revisits the rule, Studivant will be on hand to provide recommendations from a driver’s perspective.

“It is comforting that these concerns were recognized by the appeals court. I expect the FMCSA to revise the rule to include better driver protection,” Studivant said.