WASHINGTON, DC—The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) pledged today to push government authorities to combat the epidemic of bus driver assaults across America and to close a loophole in federal law that denies overtime pay to intercity bus drivers.
“It is intolerable that too many of these intercity buses are run like sweatshops on wheels, squeezing every minute out of their drivers while dodging overtime pay and a living wage for these workers,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “More than 1,000 people die each year in bus accidents—it is time to have an honest conversation with the American people about how we can make bus transportation safer for the passengers and the drivers.”
TTD will urge Congress to pass the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act (S.487), which will close the loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that exempts private companies from paying overtime wages when drivers have worked more than 40 hours per week. Because some of these workers are paid low wages, these drivers are forced to work excessive hours to make a living in an industry in which driver fatigue is responsible for 36 percent of intercity bus crash fatalities.
Transportation unions also focused on the need to curb bus driver assaults including attacks with deadly weapons, sexual assault, punching, spitting and verbal abuse. In addition to these occupational hazards, some transit agencies provide neither the time nor the facilities for driver bathroom breaks. “Imagine the stress of going to work every morning knowing that you could be attacked or that you might not have access to a clean bathroom for eight hours. Are these the conditions we really want for our bus drivers?” Wytkind said. “It is time for labor and management, together with the federal government, to sit at the table and come up with solutions to protect workers and the traveling public.”
The FLSA Loophole and Bus Driver Safety and Health policy statements were among 10 approved today by the TTD Executive Committee at its fall meeting. All 10 can be found at TTD.org.
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