Drivers call in sick, shutting down Detroit buses

Drivers call in sick, shutting down Detroit buses

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Detroit's public buses aren't running Monday after unionized drivers called in sick amid contract negotiations and reports of recent attacks on drivers, a city official said.

People at bus stops served by the Detroit Department of Transportation had to find another way to get around for the morning commute after 156 drivers called in sick, Gary Brown, the city's chief compliance officer Gary Brown, told The Associated Press.

DDOT needs 180 drivers for morning service, Brown said. He plans to meet with union officials Monday afternoon and was hopeful that drivers would be back on the job for the afternoon shift. He said two-thirds of bus drivers last week rejected a potential new contract.

"It's no coincidence," Brown said of Monday's developments.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 has said it isn't behind the job action and can't do anything if drivers call in sick. The union plans a rally Monday in Detroit to protest violent attacks on bus drivers, including four that left drivers hospitalized in the past week.

Two were stabbed, one came under attack from three passengers and one had urine thrown on her, Fred Westbrook, union president, told The Detroit News.

Brown said the city is working to address safety issues, which have been raised previously.

"If one driver gets hurt that's too many," he said.

Detroit is under the control of state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who has filed for bankruptcy protection. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last month that it was releasing $24 million for the repair and upgrade of Detroit buses, including installation of security cameras.

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