By Calvin Studivant, 
Vice President – Bus – 

On behalf of the Smart Transportation Division officers, and especially the officers of the Bus Department, I would like to wish all of our members and their loved ones a safe, healthy and prosperous 2015.

Now that the elections for local officers are behind us, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who were successful in being elected to their new positions. I ask that they keep in mind that fair representation of their fellow brothers and sisters is the goal. Treat all members alike and strive to represent the interests of all. Attend all union meetings and encourage your fellow members to do likewise.

Also, my congratulations go out to all incumbent officers who won re-election. I trust they were re-elected to their positions on the merits of their service to their members.

Please know that we at the SMART International and Transportation Division offices stand ready to assist with the training of new officers, so that we can continue to provide our members with the best possible representation. We also stand ready to help our brothers and sisters with any labor disputes that they may be experiencing on their respective properties. We welcome your inquiries.

Both Bus Vice President Adhi Reddy and myself are committed to securing good labor agreements for our members and we will stop at nothing to ensure that our members are protected in the workplace.

We have attended meetings along with other unions and carriers to try to find the best means to eliminate assaults on bus operators and to also ensure that those who commit these assaults are punished severely.

The road ahead may be filled with potholes, but we will work with our Legislative Department in Washington to make sure our members’ voices are heard.

While our union’s Bus Department membership continues to grow, we must continue to be proactive and diligent in making it the strongest and most progressive union of all.

Please continue being the best drivers on the roads for your own safety, the safety of your passengers and that of the general public.


Operators employed in the transit industry continue to experience difficult times in relation to obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Several types of sleep apnea exist, but the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. The most noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Transit Administration have identified fatigue and undiagnosed sleep apnea as high-risk vulnerabilities for transit operators, and as an element of probable cause for numerous transit accidents.

In 2013, Congress enacted a law prohibiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from implementing or enforcing requirements relating to sleep disorders unless adopted by a rule-making proceeding. However, it did not apply to any requirement in force before Sept. 1, 2013, at which time there were guidelines for screening and testing.

Many questions remain unanswered because it seems carrier medical review officers (MRO) are making determinations on employees based on their beliefs, as opposed to actual physical examinations. The only way a respiratory problem can be detected is through a sleep study and an MRO should request a sleep study if he or she believes there is a problem.

There is also the issue of the costs of medical examinations and who is responsible for payment. Physical examinations required by carriers based on Department of Transportation regulations should be paid for by the carrier. Also, a sleep study is no excuse for an operator to be put out of service.

We must seek a resolution to this problem and stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to ensure our members are not being put out of service and to ensure that the carriers assume the cost of any sleep studies performed.

After a sleep study is completed and the diagnosis is indeed sleep apnea, there are treatment options, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, dental devices and surgical options.

As more information becomes available concerning this disorder and DOT guidelines, we will make sure that all of our members are well informed.


Calvin Studivant
Calvin Studivant

I hope this edition of the SMART Transportation Division News finds that all our members enjoyed a safe and happy holiday season.

The SMART TD has been successful in recent organizing campaigns, adding new members to our union in general, and the bus department in particular. With the addition of new members comes the task of getting good work agreements. I will work with the Bus Department to do just that.

When comparing our labor agreements with other organizations, I am proud to say the SMART TD has secured some of the very best agreements in the bus industry. We represent the finest operators on the roads today and with their help, we were able to secure those agreements. With the Republican Party’s continued assault on organized labor, now is the time for us to stand strong and deliver.

I want to thank our legislative officers in Washington, D.C., for staying abreast of the ever-changing regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and for providing us with the necessary tools to make sure our members are some of the most well informed operators in our industry. I also want to thank the SMART TD leadership for providing the same.

With their support, now is the time to make this bus department bigger and stronger than ever. To achieve this goal, we must work harder and be wiser in getting our message out to our members. We will stand side by side and not be bullied by anyone trying to undermine the important contributions we make to the communities we serve.

I am proud to congratulate the entire negotiating committee of Local 1715 in Charlotte, N.C., where our membership recently ratified a new three-year agreement.

I am also proud to welcome the operators of First Transit in New Brunswick, N.J., who by more than a 90 percent margin, voted to join our bus family.

Brothers and sisters, thank you for all that you do to keep this union strong. It is you, the membership, whom we all serve.

Charlotte_CATS_logoSMART Transportation Division Local 1715 bus operators employed by Transit Management of Charlotte, Inc., Dec. 12 ratified a three-year agreement with management, averting a possible strike.

The new agreement calls for annual wage increases, paid retroactively to July 1, plus the return of travel-time pay, a contract provision that previously had been negotiated away when the operators were represented by the Teamsters.

The contract also calls for an additional personal day and new bidding procedures during the run assignment that is more favorable to SMART membership.

The company is also required to use a health care provider supported by the union, or one that is comparable, resulting in a reduction in the health care contributions paid by our members.

SMART TD Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant participated in the recent negotiations with Charlotte Area Transit System management when a strike by the operators appeared likely. He recognized the efforts of General Chairperson Kevin Moss, Vice General Chairpersons Hasson Trent and Brenda Moore, Local President Bruce Wright and General Committee Secretary William R. Brown for their tireless efforts in “resolving the issues at hand and working to get their members the best possible contract.”

Studivant also thanked Vice General Chairpersons Christy Kiser and Donell Taylor and Local Secretary & Treasurer Christopher Johnson for their roles in reaching the agreement.

“A lot of the bus operators here, we have families as well. We know the impact a strike would have caused on the people in the community,” said Moss.

“This has been a period of difficult negotiations, but we ended up with an agreement that’s within our financial parameters,” said Carolyn Flowers, CATS CEO.

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.

Among 112 eligible voters, 74 of the 80 operators participating in the union election chose SMART as their representative, while six voted for no union.

The bus service is managed by First Transit, Inc., based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

SMART TD Director of Organizing Rich Ross lauded the efforts of organizer and Alternate Bus Vice President Calvin Studivant saying, “Calvin just did an outstanding job. We had a meeting at Rutgers a couple of weeks ago and approximately 90 drivers attended. Calvin was well received during the meeting and was recognized for his efforts and for his knowledge of the bus industry.”

Studivant has more than 25 years of experience as a bus operator for Community Transportation in Clifton, N.J.

Ross also noted the efforts of Local President Waverly Harris and Vice Local President Brian Caldwell in assisting with the organizing campaign and helping drivers realize the benefits of union representation. Both are members of SMART TD Local 1594 at Upper Darby, Pa., employed by a division of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

The Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway inter-campus bus and shuttle system provides efficient and reliable transportation service for all five campuses. It is available to all members of the university community and the public.

According to First Transit’s website, the service is the second largest operating bus system in New Jersey, transporting more than 6 million passengers annually and providing more than 70,000 passenger trips per day. It operates approximately 50 transit buses that utilize bio-diesel fuel and Green Roads technology in an effort to reduce emissions and petroleum consumption.

Calvin Studivant
Calvin Studivant

First Student Bus Company/William Penn School District in Darby, Pennsylvania went to arbitration against the SMART Transportation Division and lost. Representing SMART TD was Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant who went to bat for local 172.

Studivant didn’t do it alone; he had help from General Chairperson Theresa Costantini, Vice Local Chairperson Denise Hall and Local 172 Secretary Kathleen Sitongia along the way. Both Costantini and Sitongia testified in the case against First Student.

“First let me say this case was very important. We arbitrated this case on July 30th which caused me to miss the regional in Anaheim,” Studivant said. “Prior to arbitration we had done mediation and the mediator had informed the company that they were wrong, but since mediation was not binding we pursued it through arbitration. I was the presenter of the union’s case and all the aforementioned were witnesses that together hold over 70 years of experience, therefore I was very confident in the case that we presented.”

Arbitrator Thomas G. McConnell Jr., found that the company was in violation of the Collective Bargaining agreement and ordered the bus company to pay it’s employees back-pay.

“I am ecstatic that we prevailed because it represents a substantial amount of money in back wages and wages going forward,” Studivant exclaimed. “First Student delayed us as long as they could but we refused to be denied. It took a year to hear the case and get an award but the victory was worth the wait.”

According to Costantini, Sitongia and management, members could bid on runs based on the run and the time it took to do the runs. Up until 2012 (the union has had a contract with the bus company since 2008, the most recent contract voted in lasts from 2011 to 2014), members were always paid by the estimated time listed on the job plus any extra time it took to do the run.

If a job was estimated to take two hours and 20 minutes but only took two hours, the member would be paid the two hours and 20 minutes that he or she bid on. If it took the driver two hours and 30 minutes, the driver would be paid the full two hours and 30 minutes.

In 2012, it was decided by management, without union approval, that members would be paid the actual time it took to do the job rather than the estimated time. According to this new policy, the member would only get paid for the two hours instead of the two hours and 20 minutes.

Members choose their runs based on seniority and have two concerns when choosing a run:

  1. How much will I be paid?
  2. When will I get home?

When First Student changed the way drivers are paid, this negatively impacted the seniority system and made these questions null because drivers could no longer have a guarantee of how much money they would be making per run.

Management of the company admits that no dry runs are ever done to determine the estimated times and that the company relies on VersaTrans system to estimate the times for them. VersaTrans is a software routing system that defines a bus route based on parameters put in by the District, including bell times and location of the schools. The VersaTrans system then provides an approximate time of how long the run will take.

Although the contract states that hours stated for a job are estimates and not exact times and that hours are not guaranteed, the contract does not state that actual times instead of the estimates would be used for payroll purposes.

McConnell found that since the company had followed the practice of paying the drivers by estimated times throughout the 2008-2011 contract the company would need to have negotiated a contract change in the 2011-2014 contract as precedence had already been set, which they did not do. It was therefore found that the company violated the collective bargaining agreement and was directed to return to their prior practice of paying by times estimated and not by actual time. The company was also ordered to pay members any lost wages due them.

“I would like to thank GC Theresa Costantini along with secretary Kathy Sitongia who kept meticulous records and chairperson Denise Hall,” Studivant said.

Click here to read the full arbitration award.

Calvin Studivant
Calvin Studivant

Bus companies are comprised of many departments and each department relies on one another in order to be a successful operation. But rarely do the bus operators get the credit they deserve. The daily elements that they face would make a lot of people second-guess their career choice.

The SMART Transportation Division bus operators are by far some of the most well-trained and highly motivated drivers in the industry. Each day, we go to work because we know the passengers that we carry depend on our services to get them to their places of employment, doctor appointments, school, supermarkets or anywhere they choose to go.

We are in an industry that operates 365 days a year and in a lot of cities, 24 hours a day. And because of this, we miss out on spending holidays with family and friends, because every day is a work day.

We must keep a smile on our face when we deal with unruly passengers, because they refuse to accept that all things are not perfect, and sometimes the schedule can’t be kept.

Our members have to deal with the germs from the cold and flu seasons that the passengers spread when entering and exiting the bus.

We have to deal with the traffic and weather conditions on a daily basis.

After all the things we deal with on the streets, we then return to bus depots, where overzealous supervisors attempt to disrespect us in some way.

So, to all SMART TD bus operators, I want to say thank you for a job very well done.

Another person I would like to thank is SMART TD President Mike Futhey. I’m sure you are aware by now that President Futhey has stated he will be stepping down. President Futhey made sure that I, along with Bus Vice President Bonnie Morr and Alternate Bus Vice President – West Brian Donald, had the necessary resources to better serve our bus dept members.

On behalf of the Bus Department and our bus operators, I would just like to say thank you, and that we wish you the best in all of your future endeavors.

Calvin Studivant

By Calvin Studivant
Alternate vice president, Bus Department

Fatigue management was a topic of significant importance earlier this month at a National Transportation Safety Board forum I attended in Washington, D.C.

The troubling news from the forum is that non-union bus operators, employed by so-called low-cost carriers, are being forced to work too many hours, with many of the drivers clearly in violation of hours-of-service regulations.

For too many non-union bus operators, pay is so low they are compromised into working excessive hours to feed their families — and that means driving while fatigued. That’s not only unlawful; it’s dangerous.

Medical experts who study fatigue have concluded that going to work fatigued is like going to work drunk.

An effective solution is not necessarily revising the hours-of-service regulations; but rather revising the law that permits non-union carriers to avoid paying their drivers overtime rates.

At no time should low driver earnings be allowed to compromise safety, but that is the situation too many low-paid, non-union operators face.

Lack of training is another problem for non-union operators employed by carriers whose primary interest is putting a driver — no matter how poorly paid or poorly trained — behind the wheel.

Much emphasis is being placed on revising hours-of-service regulations and installing new technology such as collision warning systems and lane departure warnings. Yes, they are important in assuring safety.

Too often overlooked is the ability of carriers to intimidate drivers into violating the hours-of-service law; and the fact that new technology is not, in itself, a solution to the fatigue problem.

In my mind, it makes eminent good sense to put equal or more emphasis on assuring only qualified, alert and non-fatigued drivers are behind the wheel — drivers who are properly trained and properly recruited with competitive wage and benefits packages.

Within the UTU, we recognize this in our contracts, and it is time for federal and state regulators to recognize the issue among the growing number of so-called low-cost bus companies that put profit ahead of safety.

Take, for example, a bill currently being considered by the U.S. Senate — S. 453, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. The bill would require safety improvements in construction of new buses, but missing in that bill is recognition that assuring the hiring and retention of properly qualified, fully trained and competitively paid drivers is equally important in assuring safe passenger transportation.

I will be leading discussions on these issues at our regional meetings in San Antonio and New York in June and July, and I hope as many of our drivers as possible will attend these regional meeting bus workshops.

We also will be discussing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new rules for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commerical learner’s permit (CLP). Those new rules are posted on the UTU webpage.

In the San Antonio and New York regional meetings we also will be discussing opportunities for federal grants to help improve the skills of labor negotiators and encourage innovative approaches to collaborative labor-management problem solving. We will work with the UTU National Legislative Office and President Futhey to make application for a grant to the UTU.

I also call your attention to the Bus Department page of the UTU website at www.utu.org. A link has been added on that page to a recent DOT Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. Scroll down on that page and the link is in the fourth column to the right, under “Bus Safety”. The new FMCSA rules on obtaining a CDL and CLP also appear there.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — School bus drivers employed by First Student here and represented by the UTU have ratified a new agreement by a 213-90 vote.

The agreement ratified by members of UTU Local 1908 provides for wage increases retroactive to June 2010, no loss of benefits and improvements to a 401k plan.

Calvin Studivant, alternate vice president — East for the UTU Bus Department, helped to negotiate the new agreement. He praised the efforts of the Local 1908 negotiating team that included Local General Chairperson Dale McClain, Vice Local Chairperson Debbie Orlowski and Local Secretary Geneva Crutcher.