by Dante DeAmicis
Two weeks ago I finished my training to be a Lake Transit bus driver. Unfortunately, I started in the middle of a drawn out labor dispute. Because I tend to procrastinate I never sent in paperwork to join our union. The result was I was out of the loop as far as strike matters were concerned.
I knew there was a Sunday strike meeting but it wasn’t on my calendar. I did have my next weeks schedule so I figured I could go about my business since I had no union connections yet. No one contacted me from Teamsters Union 665 or Paratransit Services previous to Monday, the first day of the strike and my new schedule.
I thought to myself, I need to contact the other 3 members of my “graduating class” since we were all on a 90 day probation and yours truly would be the first person replaced as a driver. But I found that the ways of labor conflict are mysterious.
I was to “deadhead” the early Route 4 to Lakeport, which means starting my paperwork around 5 a.m. But I need my coffee and nothing is open before 5 so I bicycled to the bus yard early to score some free coffee in the break room.
A car was in the yard with its parking lights on. “Security for the strike” I thought. Sure enough, someone got out and shined a bright light light in my face as they asked the who and what questions. A phone call to the operations manager followed.
The upshot was I had to resign from a union I had not joined in order to work. My job today, or part of it, was given to someone who had officially resigned. It appeared that I would be required by Paratransit to join the union so I could resign from it – shades of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Meanwhile, the corporate rep cum security guard ended his flashlight dual with my bike headlamp (I was losing anyway) as he assured me that if I called back after 8 they would find something for me to do. As far as today was concerned, if I did not have proof that I resigned from a union that I had never joined I would have to leave the site. I was locked out but only for a day.
Actually, half the Route 4’s weren’t covered, including my early run. This communication glitch resulted in some of Lakeport to Clearlake, or other substitute runs, not being covered. I wonder if the rest of my class had a similar experience.