Archive for December, 2013

Dec. 20, 2013

U.S. railroads\’ mixed traffic-result pattern carried over into mid-December. For the week ending Dec. 14, they originated 278,664 carloads, down 4.9 percent, and 268,161 intermodal loads, up 6.4 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Total U.S. traffic ratcheted up 0.3 percent to 546,825 units. Only four of 10 carload commodity groups posted gains, including petroleum and petroleum products at 10.4 percent, and motor vehicles and parts at 5.5 percent. Metallic ores/metals volume fell 14 percent and coal traffic declined 8.4 percent.

Canadian railroads reported weekly carloads totaling 73,230, down 8.2 percent, and intermodal volume totaling 54,008 units, up 2.2 percent year over year. Mexican railroads\’ weekly carloads increased 3.2 percent to 15,562 units and their intermodal volume climbed 12.5 percent to 10,002 units.

Through 50 weeks in 2013, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads handled 18,799,793 carloads, up 0.2 percent, and 15,609,400 containers and trailers, up 4.3 percent compared with the same 2012 period.

via Rail News – AAR: U.S. rail traffic maintained up-and-down pattern in 50th week. For Railroad Career Professionals.


Dec. 20, 2013

Leaders at the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) are asking members to support an organizing drive by the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA) at Union Pacific Railroad.

An anomaly among U.S. Class Is, dispatchers at UP currently are not represented by a union, BLET officials said in a press release. ATDA has secured enough authorization cards for the National Mediation Board to hold a representation election for the craft or class of train dispatcher, they said. Balloting will begin today and run through Jan. 15.

BLET and BMWED officials are advising their UP members about the importance of the vote and asking for their help in supporting ATDA\’s organizing drive.

\”There are nearly 600 train dispatchers eligible to vote in the upcoming election,\” said BLET National President Dennis Pierce. \”Words of encouragement or support for the union can go a long way toward turning the tide of the election.\”

via Rail News – BLET, BMWED encourage members to back ATDA organizing effort at UP. For Railroad Career Professionals.

Dec. 16, 2013

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Parents and 2,000 union school bus drivers slated to lose their jobs come Dec. 31 when Atlantic Express Bus Co. goes out of business will rally against the action in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The Port Richmond-based Atlantic Express Transportation Corp. and its unionized drivers were unable to reach an agreement on Dec. 4, and as a result, the firm that has operated buses in the borough for more than 40 years said it will shut down.

Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 will join the parent group, Parents to Improve School Transportation, at a rally at 5 p.m. on Tuesday outside the Tweed Building at 52 Chambers St. in protest of Atlantic Express\’ decision to file for bankruptcy and lay off 2,000 drivers and matrons, said a union spokesman.

\”We are trying to bring attention to the fact that Atlantic Express is going to lay off 2,000 drivers and matrons who are very good at their jobs, and very responsible. The union believes that this is a story that needs to be told,\” said the union spokesman.

Atlantic Express declined to comment on the rally. The city Department of Education (DOE) wouldn\’t comment about whether 109 Staten Island school bus routes have been assigned to another bus company. The union couldn\’t say how many drivers and matrons are Staten Island residents.

\”Bankruptcy court is involved and we are awaiting its process today,\” said Marge Feinberg, a DOE spokeswoman.

Atlantic Express Transportation Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 5. The company, which has operations in New York, as well as various other states, sent letters to its 5,500 employees last month stating that there will be a \”complete shutdown of its operations,\” come Dec 31.

In addition to the school bus routes, there are two commuter lines — X23 and X24 — operated by Atlantic Express. Last week, South Shore Councilman Vincent Ignizio announced that he had word Academy Bus Company of Paterson, N.J., will take over the two commuter routes, when Atlantic Express Transportation Corp. goes out of business.

Representatives of Academy Bus Company didn\’t return phone calls from the Advance about Ignizio\’s statement.

And the city Department of Transportation, which oversees the bus contracts, wouldn\’t confirm that a deal has been forged with Academy.

via Atlantic Express bus drivers and school parents will rally on Tuesday against bankruptcy action |

Dec. 16, 2013

Transport Workers Union Local 100 officials last week praised a plea deal that secured jail time for a woman who in 2011, while she was just 17, viciously beat a Bus Operator in the Bronx, sending her to the hospital.

Steangeli Medina pleaded guilty Dec. 3 to the most-severe offense she was charged with, the Class D felony of assaulting a transit employee on the job. That offense carries up to a seven-year prison sentence. She’ll serve six months in prison, will be on probation for five years, and must attend anger-management classes.

via Prison Time for Girl Who Brutally Beat Bronx Bus Operator – The Chief: News Of The Week.

Dec. 18, 2013

Dozens of bus and subway workers will demand a \”fair\” contract — and two board members will push for more service — at the MTA\’s board meeting Wednesday morning.

The workers will present a petition of support with about 30,000 signatures.

\”Please negotiate a fair contract with NYC Transit Workers,\” the petition states. \”After their heroic response to Hurricane Sandy, and their remarkable efforts in rebuilding the transit system, I believe they should receive a raise that keeps up with the cost of living.\”

via Bus, subway workers to attend MTA’s board meeting to demand ‘fair’ contract  – NY Daily News.

Dec. 17, 2013

Southwest Airlines rigged up a fleet of Boeing 737s with climate sensors, creating a weather forecasting network above the clouds. Together with the Aeronautical Radio Incorporated (ARINC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and SpectraSensors, Southwest Airlines could possibly revolutionize the way we acquire weather patterns.

The Water Vapor Sensing Systems (WVSS-II), as they call it, keep track of humidity when the planes take off and land, and can predict growing thunderstorms. Meteorologist and aviation forecasters have been trained to use WVSS-II systems to determine everything from fog formation to cloud ceilings. While the system is nothing new, Jeanine Hendricks, ARINC’s manager for the program, says “WVSS-II observations add a critical new piece of weather data to the forecasting puzzle.”

Agencies like the NOAA can use the data to formulate more accurate reports, and, maybe, save travelers a few hours of delay in the airport.

via Southwest Turns Their Planes Into A Weather-Sensing Network – PSFK.

Dec. 18, 2013

BART and its two biggest labor unions returned to the bargaining table Wednesday to make another attempt to resolve a dispute over a contract provision that calls for employees to receive up to six weeks of paid family medical leave annually.

Members of Service Employees Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, voted on Nov. 1 to approve a tentative agreement that includes the paid medical leave provision.

But shortly after that, BART management said it hadn\’t intended to include the provision in the agreement and claimed it had been mistakenly inserted by a temporary employee and that they had only discovered it while conducting a final review before submitting the agreement to BART\’s board of directors.

On Nov. 21, the BART directors approved the contract without the paid family medical leave provision and told union leaders to take the agreement back to their members for another vote without that provision.

Leaders of SEIU Local 1021 and ATU 1555 refused management\’s request and instead filed a lawsuit two weeks ago alleging that the transit agency\’s directors had acted unlawfully and must honor the terms of the tentative agreement.

BART and leaders of the two unions met for two days last week without success but are meeting again Wednesday and Thursday in Oakland to try to resolve their differences.

Members of a smaller union, American Federation of State, County and Local Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 210 middle managers, voted two weeks ago to approve the contract without the paid family medical leave provision.

BART directors are scheduled to vote on the contract with AFSCME Local 3993 at their meeting on Thursday, but there is now a complication in that agreement as well.

The transit agency negotiated with all three unions a change in the time it takes for newly hired employees to become vested in its retiree medical insurance program, calling for that period to triple from five years to 15 years.

The date the policy was supposed to change for all three unions was supposed to be Jan. 1, but BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Wednesday that one section of the agency\’s tentative agreement with AFSCME Local 3992 has a typo that says the policy won\’t change until July 1.

She said another section of the agreement with the union has the correct date of Jan. 1.

Trost said when BART management discovered the typo, it asked AFSCME Local 3993 to change it but the union refused.

AFSCME Local 3993 president Patricia Schuchardt couldn\’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Trost said BART needs the state Legislature to approve the policy change for the retiree medical insurance program and said agency officials hope that the complication over the starting date can be resolved by the Legislature.

BART\’s tentative agreement with its employees on Oct. 21 ended a four-day strike by its employees. Employees also went on strike for four days at the beginning of July.

via BART, Unions Resume Talks Over Paid Family Medical Leave | NBC Bay Area.