It’s happened again – an ill TriMet operator has been forced to find her own way back to the garage after being denied road relief by management.
Sandy Guengerich is a TriMet bus operator out of Merlo Garage, and was driving 3767 today. Sandy has been suffering from a cold for about a week, but she was feeling well enough to work today. Unfortunately, she began feeling ill in the middle of her shift, and called dispatch to ask for road relief while parked at Lake Oswego Transit Center after realizing she just couldn’t finish the route. The dispatcher talked to management to try and arrange for road relief for Sandy, to make sure she got back to the garage safely and quickly. They flatly denied it. Sandy then offered to drive the bus back to Merlo Garage, to serve as her own road relief even though she wasn’t feeling well enough to drive. Again, management said no. Then, they demanded that Sandy secure her pouch and remove the passengers from the bus. Those riders were forced to wait out in the rainy cold as a result.
Because management refused to send road relief or allow her to drive the bus back to the garage, Sandy was stranded in Lake Oswego. It took her an hour and 45 minutes to get herself back to Merlo Garage – and remember, she needed relief because she’s sick. And after Sandy got back to the garage, she found out the company sent two mechanics out to drive the bus back, after management refused her offer to drive it back herself.
President Shirley Block said, “on Monday, Doug Kelsey and I met for coffee. He told me he was going to look into this very issue, but he implied I was making it up. At the Board meeting to name him the likely next General Manager of the company, he again tried to hint that this wasn’t actually happening. Well, Doug, here you go: a perfect example of how sick operators are routinely being stranded on the side of the road with no relief. Now what are you and your management team going to do about it?”
ATU Local 757 demands that TriMet commit to providing road relief for sick operators, so that they can get back to the garage when they’re too ill to get themselves back. The company must immediately end its practice of stranding operators on the side of the road when they’re sick. It’s nothing short of inhumane.