ATU: Fatal Queens charter bus crash reveals another “sweatshop on wheels” – and consequences

NEW YORK—The charter bus accident in Queens that killed three people and injured 16 more is yet another example of the consequences of such “sweatshops on wheels,” says Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley.

And it again shows why Congress should enact, and the federal government should enforce, legislation and rules to prevent the driver fatigue that may have caused the crash.

Hanley’s union represents intercity and city bus and transit drivers and employees nationwide, and just celebrated its 125th anniversary. It’s spent many years campaigning for regulation of so-called “Chinatown buses” and drivers.

Those often-unsafe vehicles are driven by non-union exploited drivers who, because they’re ineligible for overtime pay and earn low wages, must take second jobs to make ends meet, after spending endless hours behind the wheel.

And when they do so, drivers often fall asleep at the wheel – 36 percent of the time — and the buses crash, federal data shows.

“When we hear about a charter bus accident we are almost 100 percent sure the fatigue of the driver played a factor in crash,” said Hanley. “It’s time for federal agency heads and members of Congress to stop turning a blind eye to the carnage from these preventable accidents. We need serious federal regulation of this critical, safety-sensitive industry.

“Is working a 15-hour day not enough to earn a living? It’s time for the government to extend the labor protections most other workers get to intercity bus drivers and fairly compensate them for overtime work,” he added.

Source: PAI