DETROIT – It looks like Detroit Department of Transportation bus drivers could be headed to court after walking off the job.
The city is looking for a judge to send the union back to work, but the drivers are banding together and claiming their safety is at risk and they want more protections.
The union said it’s not a strike, not a wildcat, but a walkout over safety.
On Sept. 8, Jerome Dillard pulled up to a stop and a young man got on. When Dillard asked the man to put on a mask, he pulled his coat over his face and Dillard idles the bus. After some time, the man gets up, removes the COVID-19 distancing chain and asked Dillard why the bus isn’t moving. Video captures Dillard punch the man multiple times.
“We asked that on Dillard’s, this video be looked at by outside partners," said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 president Glenn Tolbert. "Right now, we don’t feel that the department has our best interest at heart.”
Tolbert backed Dillard’s response.
“He snatches the chain out and in -- an aggressive move -- he then stands over the driver with his fists balled," Tolbert said. "I mean, how much do I have to take before I have to defend myself?”
Mayor Mike Duggan said that while the customer overstepped the boundaries, the driver responded inappropriately.
The union told Local 4 the city is threatening to take this to a judge and get an injunction ordering drivers back on the job. Duggan said he hopes it won’t come to that, but he said if the union is talking with its lawyers, they’ll find out the walkout not only violates the contract, it violates state law.
The DDOT drivers union is expected to hold a meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday and discuss the ongoing work stoppage.