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 who covered everything from Lula & the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball. He spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian and was labeled by the New York Times as an "abrasive gadfly" for exposing within the labor movement. Raised in a UE union family in Pittsburgh, Elk was illegally for union organizing at Politico in 2015 and used his NLRB settlement to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and is fluent in both Pittsburghese and Portuguese, which he learned when attending journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]

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