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Kalamazoo bus drivers march for union contract

By Tom Burke

ATU Local 1093 President Earl Cox leads chants at the Kalamazoo Transportation C

Kalamazoo, MI – The Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority abruptly canceled their meeting on July 8, leaving 40 bus drivers and union supporters wondering, “What is really happening?” The bus drivers, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1093, decided to do what they do best, and took it to the streets, chanting, “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!”

ATU Local 1093 President Earl Cox spoke at the busy corner in front of the bus and train terminal, “We are here today to demand a contract, to demand better wages, to demand fair working conditions, to demand restroom breaks, to demand lunch breaks, to demand safety barriers, to demand fair treatment by management,” he said.

Cox continued, “Management just cancelled the meeting as if they don’t want to face us or be held accountable. We will be heard. We haven’t had a new contract for nearly one year. We are going to stand up!”

The bus drivers then marched thru the Kalamazoo Transportation Center, where dozens of excited passengers fist-bumped and cheered them. Finally, they marched down the block and entered a Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority (KCTA) reception room, but the normally busy office building resembled a ghost town.

Bus driver Renee Whitfield said, “I’m fighting a wrongful termination. There is no relief on the bus. I have a medical need to use the restroom. My doctor approved me to return to work, but these managers won’t even give me a chance to try and work. I’m not willing to give up my 22 years that easy, so the union is representing me.”

ATU Local 1093 union members say they are looking forward to speaking at the next KCTA meeting. ATU Local 1093 President Earl Cox says they are going to talk next with the county commissioners who appoint the KCTA board members.

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