Transit union says federal agencies & policy makers continue to ignore need to pay overtime to interstate drivers
Washington, DC: Crackdowns on unsafe tour bus companies will not significantly reduce interstate bus accidents until federal law is amended to require these companies to pay their bus operators overtime says the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in response to the Department of Transportation’s announcement of a new sweep to take safety violators off the road.
In the U.S. intercity bus drivers are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime provisions, which forces them to work second jobs during their “rest period” just to make ends meet.
“That loophole in federal law allows tour bus companies get away with paying criminally low wages, forcing drivers to work as much as 100 hours a week at two or more jobs to support their families,” explains ATU International President Larry Hanley. “That is the real reason for driver fatigue, which is the number one cause of fatal bus accidents on our highways.”
Deregulation of the industry in the 1980s gave rise to countless small, "fly-by-night" operators that have been involved in an increasing number of deadly crashes.
ATU supports the Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, sponsored Driver Fatigue Prevention Act, which would ensure that drivers are paid fairly for the work they perform above 40 hours per week, making them less inclined to work other jobs and push their bodies beyond the limits of human endurance.
According to the ATU report Sudden Death Overtime, the National Transportation Safety Board estimates that 36 percent of U.S. motorcoach crash fatalities over the past decade have been caused by driver fatigue.”
“How many more people need to die in bus crashes before we deal with the real problem behind these accidents,” asks Hanley. “The DOT crackdown will take some unscrupulous operators off road, but until overtime regulations are enacted and enforced we will continue to see carnage on our highways."
About the ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.