Union Bus Drivers Rally for Protection and Higher Wages
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) -
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The Grand Valley Regional Transportation committee received a grant under the cares act in response to the COVID-19. But the GVT operates on a $3 million annual budget, so where is the rest of that money going?
That grant is $5.4 million. The bus drivers want more protection while at work during this pandemic and higher wages to support their families.
On Sunday, local union bus drivers of 1776 held a rally with the support from the community group, RAW.
“We’re here to help them get the support they need for equal wages and protective equipment and the funding that they deserve to help protect themselves as drivers and the rest of community,” says David Hood.
Since COVID, drivers have seen gloves, masks, sanitizers and shower curtains as barriers between passengers. President of local 1776 says she would also like to see a U-V filtration system to help kill germs and on-site testing for employees
“I don’t feel a hundred percent safer because every time someone gets on the bus, we don’t know where they’ve been, who they’ve been in contact with. We’re exposed every minute. The company has done a little but they need to do a lot more,” says driver, Allen Simon.
But drivers are also concerned for their safety. Judi says not only do barriers protect them from viruses but also from assaults. They have had problems getting people to comply and say that 99% of passengers do comply.
Another problem are wages. That is the starting pay for GVT drivers get paid $13.39 after they say the cost of living rose 39 cents in 2020.
“I’ve seen the wages in this company creep up rather than be up where it needs to be,” says Simon.
In a board meeting earlier in July, $90,000 was moved from the operating budget to the capital budget. But drivers aren’t sure if it will go to drivers’ safety or to something else.
Since 2017, the union has been asking for a fair wage and adequate benefits while the national average pay is over $21.