October 31, 2014

Court orders FMCSA to consider UTU concerns

By Calvin Studivant
Alternate Vice President, Bus Department

In late August, a federal appeals court vacated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule requiring electronic onboard recorders.

The court said the rule does not sufficiently protect drivers from being harassed by employers to remain at the wheel when they are fatigued. The final rule was scheduled to go into effect in June 2012. A lower court, which had set aside a challenge, was told to revisit the case.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the FMCSA “needs to consider what types of harassment already exist, how frequently and to what extent harassment happens, and how an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier will guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment.”

As a member of the FMCSA advisory committee, I previously voiced concern over this rule, and it is comforting that our concerns were recognized by the appeals court. I expect the lower court will instruct the FMCSA to revise the rule to include better driver protection.

Also of interest to our bus members, the National Labor Relations Board has instructed all carriers subject to the National Labor Relations Act to inform employees of their rights to organize and be represented by a labor union. This will certainly help in our efforts to organize the unorganized. See the separate article on this ruling elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper.

Turning to news of our bus locals, members of Local 1715, Charlotte, N.C., recognize the quality of UTU representation. In recent weeks, three members were returned to work following successful processing of their grievances.

Additionally, the UTU has prevailed in 14 grievances that put $1,000 in back pay into the wallets of each of these Local 1715 members.

We also have begun contract negotiations with the carrier on behalf of Local 1715 drivers. As part of this process, we are restoring respect lost while represented by another organization prior to the UTU representation election victory earlier this year. We are in the process of delivering improved working conditions on the Charlotte property by modifying tentative contracts agreed to by the other organization.

Local 1715 also has completed its local elections. Kevin Moss was elected general chairperson, Hasson Trent was elected vice general chairperson, and Bruce Wright was elected local president. We are very proud of these new officers and the members.

Also in negotiations is Local 172 in Darby, Pa., where Vice President Vic Baffoni is assisting at the bargaining table.