Drivers, former employees, and riders lined the streets of Monroe with signs in protest of what they describe as “unfair and unethical” treatment from Monroe Transit System.
Vice President, Kenneth Kirk, of the Amalgamated Transit Union, the organization that represents employees in the public transit industry, says workers are not being treated fairly and are in a hostile work environment.
Drivers are not allowed to carry cell phones on them. If they have an emergency they are told to use a supervisor’s phone. Female drivers are not allowed to carry purses of any size on the bus. Even drinking water or having a snack are forbidden.
When Kirk got involved the policies even shocked him.
“That’s crazy to me…I don’t understand that at all. I represent twenty-six locals throughout the South from Louisiana, Texas all the way to South Carolina. Nobody has those type of rules.”
Mary Jones worked for MTS for nineteen years. She went as far as obtaining a doctor’s note to allow her to drink water while driving.
“He wouldn’t allow me to drink water at all. I [brought] a doctor’s excuse…you must get off the bus…pop the break get off the bus…Ok if I had did that every ten minutes I would have never made my routes.”
She says Monroe Transit System fired her this year for cursing in a private conversation with a coworker – something she claims her supervisor has done.
“He overheard me say a curse word in the conversation and he told me I had to go. To say that I said something bad…they had a supervisor that supervised us that cusses all the time.”
It’s not just workers fed up, riders are voicing their concerns over inconvenient bus schedules after MTS raised fare prices. Some even have to show up to work hours early just to ensure they make it there.
“I’m there so many hours ahead of time…I had to get here early because the bus stops at a certain time,” says customer Sheila Riley.
She says she wants MTS managers to stop and think and think about what they’re doing and who it is affecting.
“We the ones suffering from the things you doing to us. We the one pay our fares and they stopping the bus like that it’s ridiculous.”
Rod Washington with Mayor Mayo’s office says, “The city administration is in active union contract negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1160. We have no further comment at this time.”