Bus Driver Unions Nationwide Refusing to Work With Police

Protesters cheer a bus driver walking off the job in Brooklyn Friday night

Friday evening, bus drivers in New York City and members of TWU Local 100 refused to cooperate with police in transporting arrested Justice for George Floyd protestors.

The action comes a day after bus drivers in Minneapolis also refused to assist the police in transporting arrested protestors; shutting down the Twin Cities’ transit system.

“I told MTA our ops won’t be used to drive cops around. It is in solidarity  [with Minneapolis’ bus drivers],” JP Patafio, vice president of TWU Local 100 told Motherboard. 

(Watch a video of one bus driver walking off the job to cheers from a crowd in Brooklyn)

Payday Report has learned that transit union leaders nationwide are instructing members not to cooperate with police in arresting protestors. 

Many union leaders have instructed their members that their union contracts protect them against being forced to work in dangerous conditions. They have informed their union members that their unions would use organizational legal resources to protect bus drivers who refuse to cooperate with the police. 

“It’s safe to say that bus drivers in a lot of places are going to be refusing work,” said one top labor leader, who wished to remain anonymous. 

For decades, transit unions, which are heavily African-American, have sought to build community alliances around environmental racism and expanding public transit communities. These community-labor alliances have helped communities to expand transit services in many areas. 

As a result of this organizing, many transit union leaders are vehemently opposed to helping with police crackdowns in communities of color. 

“ATU members live with similar fears on a daily basis. ATU members face racism daily. Our members live in and work in neighborhoods where actions like this happen, and where this took place, now watched in horror across the globe,” ATU Local 1005 said in a statement. 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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