Union bus drivers stood in solidarity with protesters over the weekend, refusing to drive arrested protesters to jail.
“We are willing to do what we can to ensure our labor is not used to help the Minneapolis Police Department shut down calls for justice,” the petition read. “For example, I am a bus driver with ATU 1005, and I urged people to call MetroTransit and the Governor the second I heard our buses and members were being organized to make mass arrests hours before the protests escalated.”
Bus drivers weren’t the only union who stood with the protesters. Hundreds of union workers in the city, including Minneapolis postal workers, nurses, teachers, and hotel workers have signed the petition pledging not to assist police during the protests, according to Adam Birch, the Minneapolis bus driver who wrote the petition.
“I was on my route on Wednesday evening and there was a message that came over transit control asking for a bus to transport police officers,” Birch told Motherboard. “I interpreted this as Minneapolis police department preparing for mass arrests so when I had a moment on a layover, I created a post on Facebook saying that I’m a metro transit bus driver, and I don’t feel comfortable assisting the Minneapolis police department to make arrests. It got a lot of reaction, which was surprising so I created a petition.”
The bus driver’s union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, also posted a statement on Twitter supporting those fighting for justice for George Floyd. The union represents more than 2,000 transportation workers in the Twin Cities.
When NYPD commandeered a city bus for prisoner transport, the city bus driver refused to transport and steps off the bus 😂😭✊🏾
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) May 30, 2020
In New York City, a video of a bus driver refusing to transport arrested protesters and police officers to jail made rounds on social media. The Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents New York City bus drivers, released a statement saying drivers can and should refuse to transport protesters.
“TWU Local 100 Bus Operators do not work for the NYPD. We transport the working families of NYC, all TWU Operators should refuse to transport arrested protestors,” the statement said.
For the union, standing up to the police and the city is nothing new. In 2011, the union sued the city for using bus drivers to transport arrested protesters during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The protests against police brutality and racism began last Wednesday after the death of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who held his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while three other officers stood by. He has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder.