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Tuscaloosa Crimson Ride bus drivers get first contract

By Jenae Stainer

Tuscaloosa, AL – After a week in and out of work and negotiations, Crimson Ride bus drivers at the University of Alabama have successfully achieved their first contract with First Transit. The agreement was reached at approximately 2:30 a.m. on March 8, after several hours at the bargaining table. The negotiating process has stalled several times, which led to the Crimson Ride drivers’ strike on March 1. After a few hours on the picket line, First Transit agreed to come back to the table, but once again these negotiations went nowhere. On March 7, they returned to the table once more, threatening the drivers with a lockout and scab buses if no agreement was reached.

Mario Harmon, ATU Local 1208 Financial Secretary, said that the drivers would vote on the contract the evening of March 8. “It’s a good first contract and it improves our situation a great deal. There are some things we want to work toward in future contracts, but this is a good contract,” he said. He mentioned that their main priorities were to improve the drivers’ wages as well as provide them with a just cause clause to give them more job security.

Leading up to the strike, Students for a Democratic Society in Tuscaloosa and the Network to Fight for Economic Justice have supported the drivers. There was a successful call-in day to university president Dr. Witt on Feb. 17 demanding that the school put pressure on First Transit to provide the drivers with a fair contract. Since then they have continued to call in, and students have offered on-the-ground support through flyering on campus, holding a rally and joining the drivers on their early morning picket line.

#TuscaloosaAL #StudentMovement #StudentsForADemocraticSociety #AfricanAmerican #NetworkToFightForEconomicJustice #CrimsonRide