I started working for TriMet in 2007. In the early 90’s I worked for Laidlaw. At Laidlaw I drove school bus, was a cover driver and was a trainer. While I was at Laidlaw it was voted to unionize and to have ATU757 be their representative. I was trainer/supervisor at the time so I was not part of the union. I watched as the union and Laidlaw negotiated their first contract and I was not impressed with the negotiations and contract at all. ATU757 negotiated a contract that gave the operators enough of a raise to cover the union dues. When I started and TriMet and became an ATU757 member I had hoped that the union had improved. At the orientation meeting I became very disappointed when I was told how I wouldn’t have union representation during my probation period and that I am to start paying initiation fees and dues right away.
2018 President Candidate
Within the first year I became Shop Steward and then Liaison. As a Liaison I was able to start to see how our union officers were handling union issues and realized that not all of our members were receiving proper representation. This really became clear when I was approached by a number of operators asking for help because they were being discriminated against by TriMet management. The operators helped me collect documentation that supports the fact that discrimination was taking place. I then took the documents to TriMet management and ATU757 Officers asking to correct this issue. Both rejected my concerns stating that past practice allows TriMet management to reject contractual leave from domestic partners because a domestic partner is not a spouse. I was able to get assistance in this matter from the ACLU who after one phone call to TriMet attorneys was able to get the issue resolved and corrected. Both ATU757 and TriMet management then stated that there must have been a misunderstanding and they have always respected the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Since then I have had a number of issues that both TriMet and our union officers would not address. Issues like probationary accident reviews, bereavement being properly addressed, FMLA/OFLA leave, Road Relief pay, and the proper use of Oregon’s sick leave law. I have been able to get some corrections and I am still working on the rest. This is a very difficult task when I am getting resistance from both our union officers and TriMet to fix these issues.
Our union officers have taken many steps to reduce the ability for members to hold union officers accountable for their actions or lack of action. The officers have taken steps to introduce bylaw changes that no longer required 50% plus 1 to win an election, to reduce or remove the need to bring issues to our membership for approval, and making it so that it is extremely, almost impossible for members to view documentation of union business.
I feel that our union is in need of new officers. Officers that are wanting to make members voices strong in our union. My time I spent addressing issues with TriMet and our Union Officers has given me experience and understanding of how they function and the changes that need to be made to improve our working conditions and wages. I have enough knowledge and background with computer technology that allows me the ability to introduce to our members tools that will allow them to better communicate and gain information. As Union President I can help our members get their voices back and with their approval I can introduce computer technology tools that will help our union grow.