| Local 234 Meets with the Philadelphia Delegation of the PA Senate
TWU Local 234 met with the Philadelphia Delegation of the PA Senate on Monday May 13, 2013 to talk with them about
- operator and rider assaults
- supporting passage of legislation to include transit workers in the protected class of workers in PA covered under Title 18
- the use of oversized mirrors on vehicles in SEPTA’s transit fleet and their contribution to left turn contacts with pedestrians
- the need for greater funding for transit in PA and maintaining mass transportation in the overall transportation funding bill.
The Philadelphia senate delegation is headed by Chairwoman Shirley Kitchen and includes Senators Lawrence Farnese, Vincent Hughes, Michael Stack, Christine Tartaglione, LeAnna Washington and Anthony Williams.
Local 234’s Executive Vice President Andre Jones Sr updated the senators and aides on the problem of ongoing assaults on transit workers and riders. They were shown video footage of several assaults that impressed the senators. Many promised to use it to reach out to their colleagues to present the reality of what transit workers are subject to.
Political Director David Szczepanski briefly talked about the need for the full support of the Philadelphia Senatorial Delegation for passage of Senate Bill 282. Senator Christine Tartaglione pointed out that SB 282 would include transit workers in the protected class of workers under second-degree felonies who are assaulted while performing their job. Currently transit workers are only included under first-degree assaults. Any assaults against a transit worker not classed as a first-degree felony are treated as misdemeanors. With the passage of SB 282 (or its mirror bill, HB 1261) what are now misdemeanors become second-degree felonies. As Senator Tartaglione stated, we were originally covered under second degree assaults, but because of on oversight or possible clerical error were not included among the enumerated groups in the statue (Title 18). SB 282 and HB 1261 seek to correct this problem.
On transit funding, David asked that they fight against any efforts to separate mass transit from a transportation-funding bill. Separating us would be a divide and conquer tactic, forcing the related segments of transportation throughout the state to have to fend for themselves and not have a collective voice to provide the resources needed for everyone in Pennsylvania.
Vice President Carl Greer shared the problem with SEPTA’s use of Roscoe mirrors with the senators. The use and placement of these oversized mirrors creates an extremely large blind spot/obstruction that vehicle operators cannot see around. The problem is compounded by the size of the “A” frame or column supporting the front and operators side mirrors. The obstruction hides pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and even whole corners and parts of buildings. Local 234 has demanded that SEPTA follow the lead of other transportation companies and either remove or reposition the mirrors so that they aren’t an obstruction. By doing so other transit agencies have significantly reduced pedestrian contacts while making left turns (in the case of Cleveland Rapid Transit, to 0 in four years).
Several senators observed that on both the assaults and thenuse of Roscoe mirrors, there shouldn’t be an issue for SEPTA to use to prevent them from taking action. It’s a matter of transit safety and that effects ridership. This is something that SEPTA should easily be able to understand.
Noting that many times legislators in other parts of the state don’t always understand the issues that come out of Philadelphia, the visual presentations the Local provided of assaults and the oversized mirrors will aide the senators in presenting and garnering support among their colleagues.
President John Johnson Jr thanked the senators for their time and attention to these critical issues. Senator Kitchen assured the local’s officers that the senators share issues with one another that they feel passionate about and issues effecting transit workers and unions has been brought to their attention numerous times by Senator Tina Tartaglione.