Less than a week after saying it agreed with a ban on cell phones, the union representing MBTA drivers has filed a grievance against a rule prohibiting the practice.
The ban was proposed by management in the wake of a T crash apparently caused by a text-messaging trolley operator. Under a rule effective Monday, drivers will be prohibited from using or possessing a cell phone while on a T bus, train or streetcar.
Using a cell phone or other electronic device will be punishable by a 30-day suspension with a recommendation for discharge.
Possessing a cell phone or other device will be punishable by a 10-day suspension for the first offense and by a 30-day suspension with a recommendation for discharge for a second offense.
The union now opposes the policy because it doesn’t address the fact that most drivers start their shift in one place and conclude it in another, which would leave them no access to a cell phone to conduct everyday affairs on unpaid breaks, said Steve MacDougall, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union.
Secretary James A. Aloisi Jr. said in a statement: “I am sorry to learn that the Carmen’s Union has decided that the personal convenience of their members will take priority over public safety. This . . . grievance is, given the facts and circumstances, unconscionable and proves how out of touch the union is with reality.”
MacDougall stressed that the union still supports the prohibition of cell phone possession and use while drivers are working.
MacDougall said he suggested that drivers be allowed to carry cell phones in locked, orange bags that would be kept in plain view of passengers to prevent abuses, but the suggestion went nowhere.
Meanwhile, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office continued to weigh criminal charges yesterday against Aiden Quinn, the 24-year-old driver the T fired after he rear-ended a Green Line trolley last week, injuring dozens of people.
May 17, 2009
T union grieves ban on phones
Using a phone while driving a vehicle is stupid, dumb and dangerous. When you ban something, there are always circumstances that make it seem as if it may be going a little too far. I don't agree with disallowing operators from even carrying cell phones. It pays to have one in emergency situations. It is a select few that screw it up for the majority.