AFSCME

afscme_logoI am never been a staunch supporter of unions prior to this year. When I was hired at United Airlines I was thrust into the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Local 1932. During my tenure on the ramp I never used of the services provided at the local level, went to one union meet (because they were serving El Pollo Loco) and never voted. Being a model employee I never had need to use the grievance process because of a management infringement on my union rights.

When hired at BART, I signed my card and paid my dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). One of the smaller groups governed by a union, with SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 drawing a majority of the membership. Our membership is quite diverse in terms of job titles as covered in Section 3.2 of our contract.

Recently, with contract negotiations raging, fueled by a 4 day strike at the beginning of July 4, the Train Controllers have been very vocal towards officers and executive board members. In a closed door session with (now) past president, the controllers were appalled and upset (as was much of the general membership) with the actions of the board, including the president. Our meeting led to her downfall and eventually resignation when charges were brought forth against her.

Since that time we have taken a liking to the Business Agent at Council 57 and her thoughts and comments as it pertains to our situation. She has provided us with strong words and brought our group in the Operations Control Center (Train Controllers & Vehicle Maintenance Supervisors) closer as a group. We were also the group that brought charges forward against (now) past president. None of us in the OCC accepted the temporary agreement and in a statement made to the press, supported the strike of ATU and SEIU workers at BART, even when we were told we could return to work.

Now as we approach the Sunday, August 4th midnight deadline there is little movement in contract negotiations, depending on what source you consider reliable. A strike is imminent, the duration, unknown. Unions continue to organize in order to strike and walk the picket line until we receive a fair and just contract, considering the $100 million we gave in concessions just 4 years ago.

I was contacted by our Council 57 Business Agent to determine my interest in being the strike captain at Pittsburg/Bay Point Station. She detailed what the position would require and agreed to take on the roll. This is hopefully the first step in further union involvement with AFSCME, as I am going to consider a position in the local when elections come up in September.

We seem to have a very strong and vocal group in the control center, but no one seems to have the time to put into the union effort. We are united and continue to push for change in our contract. Hopefully with the support of the membership, especially those in the control center and our Business Agent I can make the right moves and gain a seat on the union board.

Beep! Beep! the Union

So after my first trip to the Oakland side of the bay, I thought it was very cool taking the local rapid transit (aka BART) to visit my, now wife. I thought it would be cool to actually drive (operate) the trains that came and went at a given station platform. Well, today that “dream” (if you want to call it that) came true. I was the operator behind the button and made the choo choo go.

Okay, so it was not really my dream, but I was able to operate two trips before the train operator union found out and said that I (and my two other cohorts) were not allowed to. Ah, well, fun while it lasted and funny, but nothing happened. As if anything would of happened. But it was fun to a degree, still don’t think I could do it as a regular 9-5 sort of job.

So after a few inquiries and phone calls to my training manager about this union issue, some changes were quickly implemented. Instead of starting at 0530, which was “doable” I now have to be to work by 0315. That means waking up when some of you are going to bed at 0105! Yeah, “oh” as in OH MY GOD ITS FREAKING EARLY!!! I don’t think the local 7-11 will even be serving donuts yet! Although I can rely on Del Taco being open. LOL.

So 9 days and counting before this OJT is over and we take one more written exam and two check outs in order to pass. Personally, the check outs seem to be a real waste of our time and BART’s money, but I am not making these training decisions. So all is well.

On a Urban Terror related note, I might be bringing coverage to the Clanbase Finals on Wednesday, if so news will be posted on www.urbanterror.net. Stay tuned I will know more tomorrow (Tuesday).