Thursday, July 05, 2007

Union rules force rehiring dangerous bus drivers.

The city of Detroit is caught between a rock and a hard place and they are not entirely innocent regarding this dilemma. The Detroit News points out that the city mass transit system is self-insured. So every year the city puts aside millions of dollars to pay off people injured using the mass transit system.

This year they have budgeted out $16.1 million to pay people who ride their buses and are injured. Why so high?

Well, one bus driver “was involved in 30 mishaps, hit a bicyclist resulting in a $1.4 million lawsuit settlement and, in a separate incident had her driver’s license suspended.” The driver, Melvia Owens, permanently disabled the bicyclist, and had another 18 accidents, on top of the 30, where she wasn’t given a citation.

You might figure that after so many mishaps and accidents and costing her employer millions that this bus driver would be history. Nope. The News reports that the city also is “struggling with union rules and arbitration cases that make it difficult to terminate even the most accident-prone drivers.” The city did try to fire this driver, who was a menace to life and limb, but they were told by the arbitrator that they have to rehire her.

Apparently bad driving is not sufficient cause to fire a bus driver.

When Sharon Davis, 62, got off a bus the driver was in a hurry. He closed the doors before she was actually out of them and the doors trapped her arm inside the bus. Still not paying attention the driver drove off dragging the poor woman and permanently disabled her. She was paid $635,000 by the city.

The paper also noted that the city and the drivers collude to cover up accidents. The bicyclist who was disabled asked for the driving record of Melvia Owens. What he got indicated she had a clean record. Only when they asked for an “unedited” copy did they discover her history of multiple accidents. The Detroit News said that when the city filed forms with the state they claimed that drivers had 750 accidents. Internal city records showed the actual number was three times as high.

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