Transit union members elect new leadership


Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 757 has a new president. In mail ballots counted June 15, members picked TriMet bus operator Bruce Hansen over longtime former president Ron Heintzman, who for a short time in 2010 was president of the 190,000-member ATU international.

Bruce Hansen, newly elected president of ATU Local 757, stands by the plaque of Mel Schoppert adorning the entrance to the union hall. Schoppert, a longtime ATU leader, helped to pass the Oregon law that enabled the creation of TriMet, the Portland-area mass transit system.

Local 757, headquartered in Portland, represents 4,200 workers, including vehicle operators and mechanics at TriMet and eight other Oregon transit districts, plus C-TRAN in Vancouver, and several units of school bus and paratransit workers.

To win the top post, Hansen outpolled Heintzman and two other candidates: Hansen received 1,344 votes, Heintzman 1,102, Tom Horton 68, and Stephen Subject 43. Turnout was high, with 2,557 members (60 percent) casting ballots for president, and 71 members in all seeking union office.

It was Hansen’s second run for Local 757 president. Three years ago, he lost to Jon Hunt, when Hunt won a second term. This year, Hunt chose to run for vice president on a slate with Heintzman for president and Mary Longoria for financial secretary-treasurer. Hunt won a plurality in a six-way race, and Longoria outpolled incumbent Evette Farra and Anna Hicks.

All three offices are full-time salaried positions: President serves as business manager of the local, and vice president serves as assistant business manager. Financial secretary-treasurer is in charge of the local’s finances and serves as recording secretary. Also elected were 14 members of the Executive Board, and 22 liaison officers to the Board from sub-units and smaller bargaining units. [See here or below for complete results.] All the newly elected leaders begin their three-year terms on July 1.

Hansen, 43, is a 20-year TriMet driver and a former Local 757 Executive Board member. In 2007, he was named TriMet bus operator of the year.

He lives in Hillsboro with his wife and two sons. His brother also works at TriMet.

A 1988 graduate of Marshall High School, Hansen says he was unfamiliar with unions growing up. But he says he got a union education at the hands of fellow driver Sam Schwarz, a union officer who retired at the end of June as Local 757 vice president.

Hansen says his priorities will include building communication, training union officers, and tightening the local’s budget. He takes office at a time when the union is in a protracted contract dispute with TriMet, its largest employer. Local 757 members’ benefits — and their right to binding arbitration of contract disputes — have been the subject of repeat attacks by The Oregonian editorial board. An arbitrator is expected to pick one side’s final offer sometime this summer.

As for Heintzman, he served five terms as Local 757 president from 1988 until 2002, when he went to work as international vice president. In 2009 he moved to Washington DC to become ATU’s executive vice president. In July 2010 he was appointed its international president, but three months later he lost re-election to Lawrence Hanley, head of a Staten Island local. Since then, Heintzman has assisted Local 757 in helping to negotiate collective bargaining agreements. He says he’s not certain what his plans are for the immediate future.


In other races:

Seven members were elected unopposed to the Local 757 Executive Board: Anna Tompte, First Student Portland Public Schools; Carl Faddis, Lane Transit District; Ken Richins, Salem Area Mass Transit; Sandra Guengerich, TriMet Center Transportation; Kevin Kinoshita, TriMet Center Maintenance; David R. Kay, TriMet Powell Maintenance; and Joe E. Ruffin III, TriMet Light Rail Maintenance.

In contested races for Executive Board, Scott Miller outpolled incumbent Roy Jennings at C-TRAN; incumbent Terry Howard outpolled Karen Currah at Portland Public Schools; incumbent Jeffrey D. Ackerson outpolled Michael William McCurry at TriMet Merlo Transportation; Shayne Jenkerson outpolled incumbent Jeffrey Hunt at TriMet Merlo Maintenance; Dan Martin outpolled incumbent Khris Alexander and Fadi Hamad and LaNita “Homer” Hansen at TriMet Powell Transportation; Incumbent Tom D. Ruiz Jr. outpolled Dan Lindner at TriMet Light Rail Transportation; Shirley Block outpolled incumbent Bruce Duncan, TriMet Monthly Rated Employees.

Members also elected liaison officers to the Board. Unopposed were Melanie A. Gibson, Bend Area Transit; Jim Collell, C-VAN; John Oliver, First Student Services Corvallis City Transit; and Sharon Issler, First Student Portland Public Schools; John Hampton, Lane Transit District Extra Board; Thomas McCoid, MV Transportation; Bill Bradley, Lane Transit District Fleet Services; Daryl Meisch, MV Transportation Canby; Stephen Eckles, TriMet Merlo Transportation Extra Board; Terry Jorgensen, TriMet Powell Transportation Extra Board; Jean Strickland, TriMet Light Rail Transportation Ruby; David Harvey, TriMet Light Rail Maintenance Elmonica; Mark Brotherton, Valley Transit; and Brian Newhouse, C-TRAN Representative Staff.

In contested races, John Shreves outpolled Becci Probasco at C-TRAN; Joy LaRochelle outpolled C. Les Green at First Transit TriMet Lift; Kathi Brown outpolled Richard Larson and Jeanann C. Hall at First Transit TriMet Lift;  Roger Spry outpolled Erica Friend-Huber at Rogue Valley Transportation; Zachary Leeth outpolled Don Elznic at Salem Area Mass Transit; Gary Hernandez outpolled Erik Nyberg at TriMet Center Extra Board; Anthony Forrester outpolled Doug Tilson at TriMet Light Rail Transportation Elmonica; and Amy Taylor outpolled Dee Williams at TriMet Portland Streetcar.

For Lane Transit District Secretary, Natalie Crampton outpolled John Gelsomino and Jeramy Card.


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