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Privatized UK Rails/Trams By First Group Threatens Health and Safety-Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

Current News - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:57

Privatized UK Rails/Trams By First Group Threatens Health and Safety-Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: First Groupfatiguehealth and safetyprivatization
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Current News - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:44

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Current News - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:44

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Current News - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:44

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Privatized UK Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon

Current News - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:43

Privatized British Trains And Trams Run By First Group Creates Driver Fatigue For Bigger Profits In Croydon
"One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

Four UK Croydon tram drivers admit falling asleep at controls

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/24/four-croydon-tram-driver...
BBC investigation finds concerns over failsafe device, and one driver alleges irregular shift patterns caused fatigue
A tram in Croydon
A tram in Croydon. Photograph: Alamy
Gwyn Topham
Monday 24 April 2017 17.30 BSTLast modified on Monday 24 April 2017 17.45 BST
Four drivers have admitted falling asleep at the controls of trams in Croydon, where seven people died in a derailment last year.

The drivers told the BBC that they had fallen asleep while operating trams, with one alleging that irregular shift patterns caused fatigue. Drivers also claimed the dead man’s handle, a failsafe device designed to apply the brakes if the driver is incapacitated, did not appear always to stop the vehicles.

The firm running the line, Tram Operations, part of First Group, said it monitored drivers for fatigue and that the trams’ controls were fully functional.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
Read more
Seven passengers died and 51 were injured after a tram came off the tracks as it sped through a sharp bend in the early morning of 9 November. An inquiry by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing.

Interim reports said the tram was travelling at 46mph in a 12.5mph speed limit zone before it crashed. The driver of the tram was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The RAIB said its investigation had “not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system” and there was a suggestion “that the driver had lost awareness” that he was approaching a sharp curve.

The BBC investigation, for the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that at least three trams had since been recorded exceeding the limit on the same line. Other footage has shown a driver apparently asleep for around 30 seconds while in the cab of a moving tram.

One driver said colleagues were afraid to report problems with the safety device because they feared being disciplined for falling asleep. “You’re asking somebody to come forward and admit to something that could cost them their job,” the driver said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, ordered Transport for London to urgently investigate all of the claims made in the BBC’s report. A spokesperson said: “TfL respond to any complaint that is raised and actively encourage customers and staff to report any concerns them may have directly to them.”

Other London politicians said Tram Operations’ contract should be reviewed. Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said: “It is now time to consider whether the current company are fit to run this important contract given these serious safety issues.”

A spokesperson for Tram Operations said: “We take all allegations of incidents such as these very seriously. We have procedures in place for driver support and welfare including monitoring for potential fatigue. We emphasise to employees that no one should drive if they are unfit to do so. If there are any reports of issues with the performance of the trams, these are investigated as a priority.”

Tags: privatizationFirst Groupfatiguehealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Fleet Memo for April 22 2017

IBU - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 08:58
.
Categories: Unions

Bangladesh: A Message to Global Brands from a Rana Plaza Survivor

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Human Rights Watch
Categories: Labor News

Honduras: Fyffes Union Leader Escapes Murder Attempt

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Lethal lies: Unmasking the men behind the global asbestos spy ring

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: New Matilda
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK63EgTVwYs
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK63EgTVwYs
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK63EgTVwYs
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Canada: On Rana Plaza Anniversary, Transparency Needed from Mark's, Sport Chek

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: USW
Categories: Labor News

Princess Cruise Line Maritime Engineer Whistleblower in Record ‘Magic Pipe’ Pollution Case Gets $1 Million Payout

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:06

Princess Cruise Line Maritime Engineer Whistleblower in Record ‘Magic Pipe’ Pollution Case Gets $1 Million Payout
http://gcaptain.com/whistleblower-gets-1-million-in-largest-ever-magic-p...

April 20, 2017 by gCaptain

Caribbean Princess. File photo: CC BY-SA 3.0
A U.S. District Judge in Miami on Wednesday sentenced Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. (Princess) to pay a $40 million penalty – the largest-ever for crimes involving deliberate vessel pollution – related to illegal dumping overboard of oil contaminated waste and falsification of official logs in order to conceal the discharges.

The judge also ordered that $1 million be awarded to a British engineer, who first reported the illegal discharges to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which in turn provided the evidence to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Princess Cruise Lines, part of Carnival Corporation, agreed last December to plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from illegal oil dumping at sea and intentional acts to cover it up.

According to the Justice Dept., the newly hired engineer on the Caribbean Princess reported that a so-called “magic pipe” had been used on Aug. 23, 2013, to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. The evidence gathered by the whistleblower, including photographs of the magic pipe, led to an inspection of the cruise ship both in England and then when it reached New York on Sept. 14, 2013. During each of the separate inspections certain crew members concealed the illegal activity by lying to the authorities in accordance with orders they had received from Caribbean Princess engineering officers.

The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami, also requires that Princess remain on probation for a period of five years during which time all of the related Carnival cruise ship companies trading in the U.S. will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan that includes independent audits by an outside company and oversight by a court appointed monitor. As a result of the government’s investigation, Princess has already taken various corrective actions, including upgrading the oily water separators and oil content monitors on every ship in its fleet and instituting many new policies.

According to papers filed in court, the Caribbean Princess had been making illegal discharges through bypass equipment since 2005, one year after the ship began operations. The August 2013 discharge approximately 23-miles off the coast of England involved approximately 4,227 gallons within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. At the same time as the discharge, engineers ran clean seawater through the ship’s monitoring equipment in order to conceal the criminal conduct and create a false digital record for a legitimate discharge.

The case against Princess included illegal practices which were found to have taken place on five Princess ships – Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess. One practice was to open a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor. The purpose was to prevent the oil content monitor from going into alarm mode and stopping the overboard discharge. This was done routinely on the Caribbean Princess in 2012 and 2013, the court found. The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste, and then pumped overboard anytime the ship was more than four nautical miles from land. As a result, discharges within U.S. waters were likely, and none of the discharges were recorded in the oil record books that are required to be maintained on board the ships.

“These violations of law were serious, longstanding and designed to conceal illegal discharges,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood. “The sentence in this case should ensure that these crimes do not take place in the future and should also send a strong message to others that illegally polluting U.S. waters will not be tolerated.”

“Today’s large criminal penalty makes it clear that businesses that operate in our oceans will be held accountable for violating their obligation to safeguard the marine environment,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Greenberg. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and our maritime partners are committed to ensuring that all vessel operators adhere to recognized standards in order to protect our open seas and coasts. We will continue to use the U.S. courts to pursue those who circumvent the law for their own personal gain.”

“Without the courageous act of a junior crewmember to alert authorities to these criminal behaviors of deliberately dumping oil at sea, the global environmental damage caused by the Princess fleet could have been much worse,” said Rear Admiral Scott Buschman, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District. “The selflessness of this individual exposed five different ships that embraced a culture of shortcuts and I am pleased at this outcome.”

Ten million of the $40 million criminal penalty imposed by the court is earmarked for community service projects to benefit the maritime environment; $3 million of the community service payments will go to environmental projects in South Florida; $1 million will go for projects to benefit the marine environment in United Kingdom waters. Additionally, $1 million of the criminal penalty will be deposited in the Abandon Seafarer’s Fund, a fund established to provide a mechanism for the U.S. Coast Guard to offer humanitarian relief and support of seafarers who are abandoned in the United States and are witnesses to maritime-related crimes.

As set forth in papers filed in court, Princess admitted to the following:

After suspecting that the authorities had been informed, senior ship engineers dismantled the bypass pipe and instructed crew members to lie.
Following the MCA’s inquiry, the chief engineer held a sham meeting in the engine control room to pretend to look into the allegations while holding up a sign stating: “LA is listening.” The engineers present understood that anything said might be heard by those at the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles, California, because the engine control room contained a recording device intended to monitor conversations in the event of an incident.
A perceived motive for the crimes was financial – the chief engineer that ordered the dumping off the coast of England told subordinate engineers that it cost too much to properly offload the waste in port and that the shore-side superintendent who he reported to would not want to pay the expense.
Graywater tanks overflowed into the bilges on a routine basis and were pumped back into the graywater system and then improperly discharged overboard when they were required to be treated as oil contaminated bilge waste. The overflows took place when internal floats in the graywater collection tanks got stuck due to large amounts of fat, grease and food particles from the galley that drained into the graywater system. Graywater tanks overflowed at least once a month and, at times, as frequently as once per week. Princess had no written procedures or training for how internal gray water spills were supposed to be cleaned up and the problem remained uncorrected for many years.

Tags: health and safetywhistleblowerPrincess Cruise
Categories: Labor News

Somalia: Trade unions call for an end to intimidation and impunity

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Israel: Histadrut calls public sector strike for next Tuesday

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Globes
Categories: Labor News

Global: More brands should reveal where their clothes are made

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Human Rights Watch
Categories: Labor News

USA: Retail Workers Fight to Get a Cut in the Era of Ecommerce

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Racked
Categories: Labor News

SF Ford’s Chariot bus drivers to weigh joining Teamsters union

Current News - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 13:28

SF Ford’s Chariot bus drivers to weigh joining Teamsters union
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Ford-s-Chariot-bus-drivers-t...

By Carolyn SaidApril 17, 2017 Updated: April 17, 2017 4:21pm
Commute-shuttle service Chariot’s 170 San Francisco drivers are considering unionization, following a path laid out by tech company shuttle-bus drivers.

Teamsters Local 665 said a majority of Chariot drivers have signed cards authorizing a vote about union representation. The local filed with the National Labor Relations Board late last week to request an election, which would typically happen within 30 days.

Wages are the biggest issue, said Mark Gleason, secretary-treasurer of the 6,000-member local. “Drivers are telling us anecdotally that pay ranges from $13 an hour, with some lead drivers as high as $21 an hour,” he said. “But full-time, that’s $40,000 (a year) or less, a modest income to pay for shelter and food here where the cost of living is so high.”

San Francisco’s minimum wage is now $13 an hour, but residents have voted to raise it in steps to $15 by 2018.

“These are working-class jobs paying well above the minimum wage,” Chariot CEO Ali Vahabzadeh told The Chronicle in an interview in November, while declining to specify what drivers earn. He said the company has a high retention rate, and works to promote drivers to more-senior positions such as captains, who oversee routes and train new hires. Unlike drivers for ride-hailing services, who work as independent contractors, Chariot shuttle drivers are salaried employees working both full- and part-time.

Chariot’s 150 turquoise vans are a familiar site on San Francisco streets as they ferry thousands of commuters between residential neighborhoods and work centers for about $4 a ride. Ford Motor Co. bought the 2-year-old San Francisco startup in September for an undisclosed amount.

Chariot said it will respond “as appropriate” to the organizing drive.

“Since our inception, Chariot has been committed to delivering competitive wages and benefits, on-the-job training and meaningful career opportunities for our drivers,” it wrote. “Our parent company, Ford Motor Co., has a long history of working together successfully with their represented and non-represented employees around the world and, as part of Ford, we are committed to continuing that tradition.”

One Chariot driver, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said $13 to $14 an hour is the typical wage. She said the company only last week put portable toilets in the two parking lots for its vehicles. “We still don’t have running water to wash our hands or a break room,” she said.

She hopes for better wages, better working conditions and better health benefits. She described the current health insurance, which only took effect late last year, as “minimal.”

Another driver who also asked for anonymity agreed with those wage estimates. “I don’t think they’ve been fair with the drivers,” he said. “We need a voice with the office.” He agreed that health benefits are lackluster.

Charior confirmed that full-time drivers and “captains” were offered the option to enroll in health benefits by December. It said bathroom facilities were installed soon after a move to a new parking lot.

Chariot is among a range of private commuter services offering alternatives to public transportation. Gleason noted that there’s a huge disparity between public transit wages and those of the private services. Muni drivers make from $21.41 to $33.98 an hour and have benefits including health insurance, paid time off and pensions, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The Teamsters have recently organized shuttle-bus drivers who work for contractors providing service to companies such as Yahoo, Facebook, Salesforce, Apple, Genentech, eBay and Twitter. About 1,000 Local 665 members are in the transportation industry.

“We believe (private transit) will be a growth industry, expanding rapidly,” Gleason said. “We want to partner with companies doing this type of work.”

Last year Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, which provides shuttle buses to Zynga, Cisco and Electronic Arts, had a run-in with the local that led to it picketing some shuttles and the SFMTA denying the company a new operating permit. That situation ended with Bauer’s drivers joining the union.

The Teamsters want the SFMTA to apply a “labor harmony” provision to Chariot, which would exert pressure on the commuter service to play nice with unions. That provision already applies to “Google buses,” the generic terms for shuttles to various tech employers, requiring bus companies to develop a planfor avoiding interruptions in service from labor disputes.

“SFMTA is in the processing of developing permit programs for these jitney buses,” said Doug Bloch, Teamsters Joint Council 7 political director. “We think it should include a labor harmony requirement.”

Ford plans to expand Chariot both nationally and internationally as part of the carmaker’s push into different ways of moving people around.

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid

Tags: IBT 665Chariot
Categories: Labor News

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