COVID-19 Update April 21, 2020

January 07, the Chinese Government announced that they had identified a new Corona Virus, now named COVID-19. They’ve tracked the first known case of it down to December 02, 2019. A murderous, tiny bit that has Humanity on house-arrest. The economy is in tatters, healthcare stressed to the limit, people barred from a simple hug from a grandchild. What monster is this that has humankind on its knees? As of today, 27 ATU members are known to have died as a result of COVID-19
Our species’ greatest strength has always been our ability to work together for our mutual survival and that trait is what will save us now. It’s truly thrilling to see how people have come together in this global crisis on the grandest scale down to the tiniest simple courtesy. This crisis will pass.
The tragedy in Nova Scotia last weekend has affected people across the country. Many Nova Scotian immigrants to Alberta are here in ATU 569’s membership. If you are affected or you know of someone who was affected by this inconceivable event, please let us know. Your Union is here to support you.
DATS Operators will soon have a new role. With the cancellation of regular late night Transit service, particularly the OWL wee hours service, a small contingent of essential services workers are left without transportation to & from work. But ETS has a solution! With DATS ridership down by 80%, there are vehicles and Operators available to deliver this service. It will begin by week’s end. They will provide door-to-door service for these important workers. This is the sort of nimbleness that will get us through the crisis.
Overcrowding on buses is still an issue in ETS Operations. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a safety issue for passengers and the Operator. A solution is coming from the City, hopefully very soon. In the meantime, if you have a situation where picking up more passengers would constitute a real safety hazard, stop your bus. Contact Control and tell the Controller that it’s unsafe to board more passengers and that you will wait for a support bus to help. Stand by your safety issue. Remain professional and respectful. Your Union will stand up for you in any bonafide safety concern.
A concern has been identified about our vaunted security doors. Apparently, routine usage and vibration has caused a panel at the Operator’s right elbow to swivel out of place, creating a gap that could be accessed by an assailant. Transit Fleet Services is on it and are campaigning the fleet to fix the problem – Cudos to Fleet!. If you find a bus with this problem, please remember to tell the Booker and sign it off.
Many Operators at ETS did not get their Good Friday Stat Premium. This problem has been identified, the affected Operators have been identified and the correction will be on your next pay deposit. Transit apologizes for the error, but everyone is running flat-out to make everything work for everybody. Many thanks to the folks at Payroll for your nimbleness in getting these things corrected.
Last week, I reported that the Operator who was attacked by a passenger claiming to be positive had tested negative. Today, I’m happy to report that the TPOs who were similarly attacked in apprehending the assailant also tested negative. Whew!
There’s lots of talk around about layoffs. Some were announced today for members at St. Albert. Eight casual Operators at Red Deer Transit were laid off a week ago. The employers do not have a bottomless money-bucket, but we are working hard with them to keep everybody working. ATU has 2 priorities: FIRST, TO PROTECT OUR MEMBERS’ LIVES AND THAT OF THEIR FAMILIES. SECOND, TO PROTECT MEMBERS’ LIVELIHOOD. Lives and livelihoods. Our mandate. Letters of Understanding are in place for members employed at the City of Edmonton and Diversified Transportation. One is near completion for members at City of Red Deer. But our priority is to not have layoffs at all. That is our over riding objective. For everyone. Even those who have already been laid off. Your Union is still working on your behalf.
That is my report for tonight. May you and your families be healthy.
In solidarity,
Steve Bradshaw
President/Business Agent