DETROIT (WWJ) – The buses are rolling again in Detroit thanks to an agreement between Mayor Dave Bing, police and the union.
The work stoppage began Friday morning following the beating of a Detroit Department of Transportation bus driver by some passengers on Thursday.
Friday afternoon, Bing announced some changes that he said will increase security for both DDOT drivers and passengers.
“The Detroit Police Department will immediately institute random pull-overs and boardings of our buses citywide,” said the mayor, adding that police reserves will be housed at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center.
“The city of Detroit is committed to providing safe and secure work environments for all of our workers,” Bing said.
Crime Stoppers will now offer a $1,000 reward leading to the arrest of anyone involved in an incident on a city bus.
DDOT bus drivers earlier Friday defended their impromptu sick-out over a lack of security on buses.
“Every single day, somebody’s getting assaulted. If we’re not getting spit on, we’re getting verbally abused. We get threatened every day,” said DDOT driver Pure Lile.
“You know, as soon as we open the door, we’re getting cussed out … ‘I’ve been waiting two hours, da-da-da-da-da … you know, [like] it’s the bus drivers fault. Actually, we have no control over what is going on,” she said.
Lile said she has been a DDOT driver for the past 14 years and has never felt more threatened on the job than she does today.
Amalgamated Transit Union-Local 26 Friday urged members to go back to work, but supported the stoppage to force the city’s hand in providing security for bus drivers and riders
Union President Henry Gaffney said members aren’t even thinking about their wallets right now. “This isn’t about pay. This is in no way about money or anything. This is about safety … and being able to go home safe. That’s all it’s about,” Gaffney said.
Gaffney said while some members have called for sheriff’s deputies on the buses, Detroit Police filed a suit to win the work. Gaffney said he isn’t worried about who is there to protect drivers, as long as it’s now.
“I wouldn’t care if it was Mickey Mouse, as long as he stopped people from beating up on my drivers,” Gaffney said. “But it’s gotta be somebody. We’ve got to do something. It’s really gotten that bad at this particular time,” he said.
Disgruntled DDOT drivers met with Mayor Bing’s Assistant Chief of Police and Chief Operating Officers earlier Friday at a west side bus terminal to talk about the problem.
“A guy got on the bus, put a dollar, two quarters and three dimes in and wanted his nickel out … kicked out a straight razor, was gonna cut me,” she a female driver. “I had to tell my passengers on the bus … I said hold on, I have opened the door and I was gonna have to speed up and use that bus as a weapon because I wasn’t gonna let him cut me.”
“This is what we’re going through. My life ain’t worth a nickel,” she said.