Public transportation unions are defending their members’ refusal to transport arrested protesters, as ongoing unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minnesota spread nationwide.
“This is a misuse of public transit,” the head of one of the largest unions , the Amalgamated Transit Union, said.
Video showing a bus driver supporting in demonstrations in Brooklyn racked up hundreds of thousands of shares on Twitter.
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Bus drivers in New York and Minneapolis refused to transport police and arrested protesters as demonstrations proliferated across the United States in response to the death of George Floyd during an arrest. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Three other officers looked on.
The TWU Local 100, which represents public transit employees in New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said its members “do not work for the NYPD” and that they should “should refuse to transport arrested protesters.” As thousands gathered in Brooklyn, videos of bus drivers honking and gesturing in support spread online.
The NYPD is using a bus to transfer arrested protesters at the Barclays Center.
However the bus driver refused to drive it. pic.twitter.com/Pqx4Nv8JhG
— New York Socialist (@berniebromanny) May 30, 2020
Vice News reports that the union in 2011, during the Occupy Wall Street protests, sued to prevent bus drivers from being forced to transport arrested demonstrators.
In Minneapolis, where protests began, bus drivers similarly refused to work with police.
“As a transit worker and union member I refuse to transport my class and radical youth to jail,” one driver said on Facebook. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
The Amalgamated Transit Union said it supported this refusal and called for a “full and independent” investigation into Floyd’s death.
“As our members – bus drivers – have the right to refuse work they consider dangerous or unsafe during the pandemic, so too Minneapolis bus drivers – our members – have the right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live,” John Costa, president of the ATU, said in a press release on May 28.
“This is a misuse of public transit,” he said.
Transit networks have found themselves in a difficult position amid the protests, weighing the need to move workers to and from jobs against pared down service amid the coronavirus pandemic, and, in some cities, curfews designed to cull protests. In Los Angeles, Metro apologized for stopping service without warning amid protests. Chicago also temporarily suspended all transit Sunday evening, and in Washington DC, Lyft-owned Capital Bikeshare suspended operations Sunday without warning as demonstrators gathered near the White House.
Capital Bikeshare will be temporarily unavailable in the District as of 4:30 pm on May 31, 2020. Please continue to check the website for updates.
— Capital Bikeshare (@bikeshare) May 31, 2020
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Source:: Business Insider
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