Gwinnett buses rolling today as drivers receive N95 masks, face shields; hazard pay still in talks
By David Pendered
Gwinnett County buses are rolling today as the private company that operates the system has reached partial agreement with drivers, who had threatened to stop work today if they did not receive personal protective equipment and hazard pay.
Drivers were equipped with N95 masks and driver shields, as they had requested in a letter delivered Monday to the local Transdev office, in Norcross. The letter announced a walk-off would begin Thursday if the equipment were not provided.
The drivers’ request for hazardous duty pay is still in negotiations with the France-based parent company, according to a drivers’ representative. A note to drivers delivered Wednesday evening observed:
- “The company is in talks with international on the hazard pay.”
Transdev, the parent company, is based near Paris and operates in 17 countries on five continents, according to a corporate report. Transdev was created in 2011 when it merged with the private contractor that initially had had the contract to run GCT, Veolia Transport. Veolia also was based near Paris.
The company evidently is responding to a letter sent Monday. The threatened walk-out followed weeks of requests for personal protective equipment. A spokeswoman in the Illinois home office of Transdev NA has not responded to a request for comment left Monday as a voice mail.
The drivers’ letter to the managed of the Norcross office began:
- “On behalf of the employees of Gwinnett County Transit/Georgia North who are putting their lives and livelihoods at risk to help their communities and the country survive the COVID-19 pandemic , I must inform you as requested by the employees, that due to the unsafe working conditions the employees have come to the decision that we will not continue to operate service beginning Thursday April 30, 2020.”
The letter concludes:
- “Transdev has failed to protect the employees of Gwinnett County Transit/Georgia North from imminently hazardous working conditions. Under U.S. federal law, transit workers have the ‘right to refuse work when confronted by an imminent hazardous safety or security condition related to the performance of their duties, as protected under the National Transit Systems Security Act, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, and National Labor Relations Act.”
The letter was signed on behalf of, Gwinnett County Transit/Georgia North Employees. The drivers have an arms-length affiliation with the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents MARTA’s transit workers.
Transdev NA provides this description of its operations on its website.
- “Based near Chicago, Transdev is the largest private-sector operator of multiple modes of transit in North America, including bus, rail, streetcar, paratransit, and shuttle services. Transdev is committed to being the trusted partner of cities and transit authorities through quality execution and innovations in mobility. Its parent company, Transdev Group, is a leading global operator and integrator of mobility operating in 18 countries and provides passengers every day the freedom to move and connect to what they care about in their cities. transdevna.com”