'We are under constant danger': DDOT bus drivers continue walkout for second day

Posted at 4:26 PM, Oct 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-03 16:26:11-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit's mayor on Saturday addressed a walkout by bus drivers that's left riders across the city stranded – for the second day in a row.

Mayor Duggan says if the union has an issue with safety, he and Chief Craig are ready to sit down and discuss them.

In the meantime, the union says there are laws on the books that are not being enforced to punish those who attack drivers.

"I've seen the video, and I find them very disturbing," said Mayor Duggan.

The mayor says he stands behind DDOT's decision to suspend a bus driver who the city says initiated physical contact with a passenger a few weeks ago. That's after that rider crossed a barrier into the driver's space. The altercation stemmed from the passenger not wearing a mask, and the driver refusing to drive off.

"When you look at the response, I've got to tell you I'm disturbed by the response," said Duggan. "It wasn't 'go back to your seat.' It wasn't 'stay back behind the line.'"

The driver's suspension prompted all bus drivers to walkout Friday.

The union emphasizes it did not authorize this action, and it violates the contract with the city. But they're demanding greater protection.

"They're answer to that is we're going to file an injunction," said Glenn Tolbert, President of ATU Local 26. "They gave us some things that they could hopefully in 45 days to close to Christmas, I don't know, just to appease so we could go back, but we're in constant danger out there."

Tolbert says his drivers feel like their hands are tied.

"You're afraid to not do anything because you'll go home in a body bag or something. Or you're afraid to do something, and be in jeopardy of losing your livelihood," said Tolbert.

City leadership says they hear the frustrations.The driver is getting due process, will have the right to appeal and undergo arbitration. So DDOT and the mayor demand drivers not leave riders stranded.

"We're open and we're honest, and we're going to do the right thing," said DDOT Executive Director Mikel Oglesby. "And I say to the drivers of Detroit: 'Come back to work.'"

The mayor says if this goes to court, the union will lose.