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Latest News - June 2014

June 20, 2014
MBTA union unhappy with new rules that ban drivers from carrying cellphones
Source: MassLive
By: Garrett Quinn

The union that represents over 6,000 MBTA employees is threatening legal action over new rules that ban bus and train drivers from carrying cellphones on their person while working.

Violators of the new rule could face immediate termination if caught with a cellphone on the job.

The rules were revamped after a bus accident in Newton that injured eight people. The driver of the bus was found to have been using her cellphone shortly before driving the bus through a guardrail and fence on a MassPike overpass.

The driver was later fired after her license was suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589 argued two points: that the new rule went against their collective bargaining agreement and that their are legitimate reasons for bus and rail drivers to have cellphones on them.

"There are times when alternative communications, like cellphones, are actually needed on the bus – on an urgent basis for everyone’s protection. To the extent that the MBTA proposes to ban them all together, this policy offers no solution to safety emergencies," said Local 589 in a statement posted to their website.

The union said in their statement that their request to delay implantation of the new law was rejected during a meeting with MBTA brass. "The questions of when MBTA employees may have or use personal cellphones is a subject of negotiations under the law. The Boston Carmen’s union will insist that negotiations take place prior to the new rule being enforced," said the union in a statement.

The union said it will seek arbitration or a court order to stop the implementation of the new rule.

MBTA press secretary Joe Pesaturo said the agency had to implement the ban on phones in the name of safety.

"Nothing is more important than the public's safety, a zero-tolerance policy is absolutely necessary to help ensure that every customer's bus and train ride is a safe one," said Pesaturo in an email.

Pesaturo declined to say whether the MBTA was open to reviewing the new rule with the union.

The MBTA stiffened their rules on cellphone use after a 2009 Green Line crash that injured over 68 people. The driver of the Green Line trolley was found to have been texting while operating the train.

A bus driver was fired in 2009 for talking on their cellphone while on duty.



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