Scheduling Snafus….

As you all know I drive a transit bus for a living. In a couple of weeks I will have been at my job with the city for 19 years. I always tell people it’s the longest summer job I have ever had!  I started it way back when because it was summer time and as a school bus driver the only thing the school where I was employed could offer me was janitorial work and I really didn’t enjoy scrubbing desks, walls, and toilets.  I saw this job in the paper, applied, and was hired.  By the time the school year was ready to start i was working full-time hours with the opportunity of benefits soon and I decided to stay. I started as number 28 on the part-time list–there were 36 full-time drivers at the time–and now there are 78 full-time drivers and I am number 10 in seniority.

Back when I started seniority actually meant something. You got the best schedules, the most pay, benefits, and chose first for vacations and extra work.  As time goes on those privileges and benefits have been whittled away and this last bid was the final  straw for us all.

The city has decided to do away with two routes, create a new one, and add another time slot to an existing route to enable us to have 15 minute service in that area.  The problem is that the contractor that I work for who runs the buses decided they should do another run cut, when in actuality there really was no reason to do so.  The hours were there that the city needed to make these changes. However, there was no reason for a complete revamping of our schedules–with a couple of tweaks here and there these new runs would have fit into the same schedules that lost hours from losing the old routes and everyone would have been happy. But NOOOOO….  That would have made sense! Instead they decide to completely tear all the schedules apart and remake them…

Can I just say these are the worth run cuts  I have seen since the Hoover administration?! And I mean they are terrible!  I was looking at schedules that looked like what I had to bid for back when I was just a rookie 19 years ago and believe me, NO ONE is happy!

Gone are the nice early in/early out schedules that the top 15 drivers take. Or the nice late in/late outs that some of the senior drivers like  as well. Or even the sweet 4/10’s that a lot of like to take. these schedules have splits of 3 hours or more. Three days you come in at 6 am , one day you might come in at 10 am, and the last day you are there at 5 am…  We senior drivers were appalled and just got angrier and angrier as we struggled to find a schedule that would fit into our lives without completely disrupting it–and most of us failed.

I have gone from going in at 5 am and off by 3 pm to going in at 730 am and not getting off until 630 at night.  My brain does not function like some people’s. I cannot take a schedule where I come in and different times each day. I had a schedule like that once and I could not sleep! I was always afraid I would come in at the wrong time on the wrong day and get a miss out!  My operations manager got testy with me when I complained to him about the schedules.  His statement to me was that he was sure as a driver in the number 10 seniority position that there was sure to be at least ten schedules I would be willing to drive.  I looked him right in the eye and responded that no–not only were there not ten I would drive , there were only two and obviously they would not come down to me! The nerve!

Because so many complained and several went to the union over this the company has decided to let us “fix” the problem schedules. over the next month or so management and drivers will get together and work on straightening out all the problems. Meanwhile the new bid starts on Sunday so we will have to drive these schedules for now until we can fix them.

It is amazing how something so simple  as a change in schedule can cause so much stress and turmoil.many of our drivers have families and child care issues come up when the schedules under go such dramatic changes. Or they have to try to match their schedule to their spouse or significant other’s . We become comfortable in a certain time slot and most of us find a schedule we can live with and seldom change out of it. And then something like this happens and all hell breaks loose!

Have any of you ever worked jobs where you had to switch schedules periodically? My dad use to work shifts–six weeks days, six weeks swing, and six weeks graveyard. He did this for 23 years and I remember it was always rough on all of us that first week on a new time schedule. How did you adjust? Or did you? Sometimes people just change jobs to get away from that sort of thing!

As a side note this weekend is a huge holiday travel sort of weekend. Please be safe if you are driving to see family or friends! Enjoy the fireworks and time together and come back home safe and sound! Happy 4th of July America!!