Tracy Morgan Still Critical; Truck Drivers’ Union Demands Fair Working Conditions

tracy morganComedian Tracy Morgan is in critical condition but some unscrupulous elements have been spreading rumors online and on the facebook that he succumbed to his injuries in a car crash on 7 June in New Jersey that left one dead and several others injured.

While his friend and writer James McNair was pronounced dead at the scene on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Morgan and six others were returning to New York after a comedy show when their vehicle was struck by a Wal-Mart truck.

The “30 Rock” actor remains in serious condition, but his family is hopeful that he will make it through.

Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon said the company would take responsibility if it was their truck drvier who caused the accident.

“This is a tragedy and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved,” Simon said. “The facts are continuing to unfold. If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Wal-Mart will take full responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Facebook saw three “R.I.P. Tracy Morgan” pages which have attracted more than a million likes in one day.

It said: “At about 11 am ET on Saturday (June 07, 2014), our beloved actor Tracy Morgan passed away. Tracy Morgan was born on November 10, 1968 in New York. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page,” but the page was later removed.

Morgan’s representative retorted saying Morgan is not dead and that he is doing well. “He’s still alive and well, stop believing what you see on the Internet,” Morgan’s representative told the media.

Taking cognizance of truck driver’s stand, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) said it was due to long hours put in by drivers at low wages that is putting all at risk.

Despite federal rules, the pressures compelling drowsy truck drivers to skip their rest stops to meet tight company delivery schedules is similar to what’s happening in the tour bus industry. Bus drivers working for unscrupulous operators at low wages are being forced to work second jobs to make ends meet leaving many showing up in the driver’s seat sleep deprived, said ATU in a statement.

In the U.S., intercity bus drivers are exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The union says ensuring that drivers are paid fairly for work over 40 hours per week would make them less inclined to work other jobs and push their bodies beyond the limits of human endurance. And that would make bus accidents less likely.

“It was no shock to us that the truck driver in the Tracy Morgan crash had gone 24 hours without sleep – a practice many low paid bus drivers are forced into because they need second jobs to provide for their families,” says Larry Hanley, international president of ATU, which represents workers at Greyhound and other intercity bus companies.

“No matter how many federal limits on work hours days are legislated, you can’t monitor what drivers are doing on their time off. You’d have to put ankle monitors to track drivers every move,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that 36 percent of U.S. motorcoach crash fatalities over the past decade have been due to driver fatigue. It is the number one cause of fatal accidents, far above road conditions (2 percent) or inattention (6 percent). Over the last decade, three times as many people have been killed in intercity bus accidents than in commercial airline crashes.

“Is working a 15-hour day not enough to earn a living? It’s time for the government to extend protections to bus drivers so they are fairly compensated for overtime, especially in a safety sensitive industry,” says Hanley. “Bus passengers and drivers on our highways have a right to expect that tour bus companies pay their employees fair, livable wages that, in effect, won’t threaten the safety of everyone on the road.”

ATU has called for passage of the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act. Sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, this bill would ensure that drivers are paid fairly for the overtime work that they put in above 40 hours per week.

“It shouldn’t take a fatal accident involving a celebrity to bring the serious problem of driver fatigue to light. Just ask the families who lost loved ones in any of the many tragic bus accidents that may have been prevented by allowing bus drivers to be paid overtime like the majority of Americans,” said Hanley. “Until Congress wakes up and overtime regulations are enacted and enforced we will continue to see carnage on the highways.”

ATU is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada with 190,000 members in 253 local unions spread across 47 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines.

The union vouches for bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, and works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.

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