By Vic Baffoni

Bus Vice President

UTU-represented bus operators and mechanics can take great pride in their accomplishments the first half of 2008, but there remain many hurdles to overcome.

The final DOT rule on drug and alcohol testing for holders of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) goes into effect Aug. 25. DOT ordered that all specimens be tested for validity, which means adulterants and urine substitutes. Also, observed collections will now be required, rather than be an option, for all return-to-duty and follow-up testing.

Holders of CDLs and commercial learner permits (CLPs) face many tougher rules, and the UTU will be there every step of the way to protect the rights of its bus members.

We still have numerous contracts to negotiate before the end of the year, and there also are many pending arbitration cases. This office has an open-door policy: Any UTU officer is encouraged to call my office for assistance anytime.

Thanks go out to Alternate Vice President-East Rich Deiser for his excellent handling of the TNM&O merger and acquisition by Greyhound. Brother Deiser negotiated rights for our former members, which included dovetailed seniority, benefit protections and additional work assignments, ensuring important protections as part of their movement into the Amalgamated Transit Union.

It is good news to see reports of sharp increases in bus ridership across America as soaring gasoline prices force a shift from automobiles to public transportation. The bad news is that transit agencies are saying they cannot dramatically increase bus service anytime soon because of rising fuel costs. The UTU is urging all levels of government to increase spending on public transportation.