The union representing more than 200,000 public transit workers in the U.S. and Canada said its members in Minneapolis have the right to refuse to transport police, in solidarity with protests over the police killing of George Floyd.
“As our members – bus drivers – have the right to refuse work they consider dangerous or unsafe during the pandemic, so too Minneapolis bus drivers – our members – have the right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live,” union President John Costa said in a statement Thursday. “This is a misuse of public transit.”
ATU Local 1005, the union’s chapter in Minneapolis and St. Paul, issued a letter of solidarity with the protesters, calling for “a new Civil Rights Movement ... that is joined with the labor movement.”
“ATU members face racism daily. Our members live in and work the neighborhoods where actions like this happen, and where this took place, now watched in horror across the globe,” the local’s letter said. “Police brutality is unacceptable! We say ‘NOT ONE MORE’ execution of a black life by the hands of the police. NOT ONE MORE! JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD!”
Metro Transit officials suspended most of the region’s mass transit starting at 4 p.m. Thursday “out of concern for the safety of our customers and employees.” The suspension was later extended through Sunday.
A spokesperson would not say if the suspension was solely due to the protests, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. It’s also unclear if the decision was directly related to the transit workers’ solidarity action.
Solidarity protests spread to cities across the country on Thursday night.