Management & Operations

Transportation workers form coalition to stop driverless buses in Ohio

Posted on September 20, 2018

The TWU Autonomous Bus Fight Back Campaign attends the Ohio AFL-CIO Convention in Columbus to launch the national coalition to protest against driverless buses. Photo: Transport Workers
The TWU Autonomous Bus Fight Back Campaign attends the Ohio AFL-CIO Convention in Columbus to launch the national coalition to protest against driverless buses. Photo: Transport Workers

COLUMBUS — The Transport Workers Union of America announced the formation of a statewide coalition to prevent the use of autonomous buses in Ohio, reported WOSU.

Driverless buses would put roughly 17,000 bus operators out of work across the state, Transport Workers Union President John Samuelson told WOSU. If transportation authorities introduce autonomous vehicles or wages start to fall, the union will organize a strike, he added.

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The release from the Transport Workers Union of America:

The Transport Workers Union of America launched a campaign to form a statewide coalition to protect Bus Operators and bus riders in Ohio from unchecked and dangerous automation that some elected officials in the state are promoting.

Joined by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, the American Federation of Teachers and TWU International President John Samuelsen and TWU Local 208 President Andrew Jordan launched the People Before Robots coalition in Columbus, Ohio.

“We’re not going to let anybody give our jobs away to robots. We’re just not,” TWU International President Samuelsen said. “Bus Operators are too important to the safety of riders and the public, and these working-class jobs are too important to working-class families. If the politicians and profiteers try to wipe out these jobs, they will have a massive fightback on their hands.”

The unchecked and dangerous deployment of autonomous vehicles — including driverless buses in Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati — will  put tens of thousands of Ohioans on the unemployment lines. That includes bus operators who we will fight to ensure that bus operators remain in the driver’s seat. An empty seat at the front of an autonomous bus can’t: assist in an emergency, help senior citizens get on board, call 911, give directions or CPR, or go off-route due to an unexpected danger or crisis, including a terror attack.

“The women and men of the TWU are the backbone of public transportation here in Columbus and throughout Central Ohio,” Local President Andrew Jordan said. “We are not opposed to technology. But we won’t stand by and let robots replace human Bus Operators  and decimate the solid blue collar  jobs that are vital to our working communities and to our local and state economies. I will say it again: A bus is NOTHING without US!”

That afternoon, delegates to the Ohio State AFL-CIO 31st Biennial Convention unanimously passed the resolution, “Addressing the Challenges and Threats of Autonomous Vehicles to Transportation Worker Jobs in Ohio.”

Local President Andrew Jordan read the resolution, “The Ohio AFL-CIO recognizes that technology to not an adequate substitute for human operators and declares its opposition to the replacement of experienced, professional transportation workers, who have long provided their communities essential, safe and secure public transit services, by autonomous vehicles in the provision of public transportation.”

“This is very much a class issue,” stressed International President Samuelsen. “The working families of Ohio are under attack. This is the epicenter of the battle  against driverless vehicles – and this fight has just begun. The TWU will defend the working people of Ohio who rely on public transit and our members’ jobs. We must organize and fight back. If we strategically fight back, we can and will beat the ultra wealthy tech moguls and Wall Street investors who are targeting our communities .”


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