July 3, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Silver Spring, MD – Saying that overworked bus drivers are a danger to passengers, the Amalgamated Transit Union and the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department are asking Congress to pass a law that would give them overtime pay after 40 hours a week.
Drivers of intercity buses have been exempt from the time-and-a-half overtime rules in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act since it was enacted in 1938. ATU President Larry Hanley and the AFL-CIO’s Edward Wytkind call that an “indefensible” loophole. The deregulation of the bus industry in the 1980s, they say, led to lower fares, but also to carriers that “notoriously pay their drivers appallingly low wages,” forcing them to work long hours and other jobs, the two wrote on the Huffington Post June 27. A 2012 study by the National Transportation Safety Board estimated that that 37% of intercity bus crash fatalities—including the 14 people killed when a bus overturned in the Bronx in 2011—are caused by driver fatigue. “We’ve allowed too many bus companies to run sweatshops on wheels that push drivers to exhaustion while ducking the obligation to pay overtime,” Hanley and Wytkind said. Read more