Oct 12, 2020
On Friday, October 2, Detroit bus drivers walked off the job, shutting down bus service until the following Monday.
Frustration and anger has been high for months. In April, Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove died of COVID-19 after complaining in an online video about a passenger who openly coughed on his bus. On top of the continued risk of catching the virus, bus drivers complain of regular threats of violence from passengers who are themselves pushed past the breaking point—many of whom refuse to wear masks. Bus drivers also point out that they cannot use public washrooms, and the portable toilets they are forced to turn to are “trashed out.”
When a driver was suspended for 29 days after defending himself from a passenger who refused to wear a mask and approached close to him, bus drivers finally had been pushed too far.
In response to the walkout, the city agreed to put up more barriers on buses to keep passengers away from drivers, expedite arbitration for the suspended driver, and provide masks for passengers who don’t have them. It took a weekend-long walkout to even get these small steps that should have been taken months ago.