CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee- Bus drivers, families, and community members rallied together outside of the Hamilton County Courthouse bus stop to demand hazard pay from the Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority due to COVID.
“I met twice about it to no avail wanted to speak to the board about it I was muted. It was a slap in the face to take it away 10 days after the board approved back pay for the executive director and the CFO. We’re not saying the CFO didn’t need the raise. It’s just not the time, they say they don’t have money, still issuing out raises. Layoffs were rescinded and in the same month promotions and bonuses were given, so give us what we deserve,” said Strickland.
Strickland said over 20 percent of the bus drivers got COVID and hazard pay needs to be reinstated to covered items to help protect drivers.
“Being out there on the front line put our lives on the line our family lives in jeopardy some of us have even lost family members due to COVID,” said Strickland.
Driver James Boles said he was infected with COVID and he didn’t know if he would survive.
“My personal doctor told me if I’m not going in that hospital that I better go to that hospital or go and get myself a casket because I wasn’t going to make it. I stayed in there for 23 days Covid attacked my heart,” said Boles.
After getting a pacemaker, he said he wants to return to work because it’s what he loves but, he wants to make sure his family is still safe after he returns to work through hazard pay.
“When I go home from work I have to strip my clothes off, wash them right off to make sure nobody in my family gets anything that I drug in that house. Because it’s not fair for them to die because of my choice of what kind of work I’m going to do,” said Boles.
Hannah Kuhn came out to support the drivers even though she isn’t one.
“Any injustice against one is an injustice against all. That’s why,” said Kuhn.
Strickland added it’s time for CARTA to give its workers a seat on the board.
“I don’t think it’s really being handed down to them with the transparency they need to know the ends and outs of what we do and what we face internally along with externally,” said Strickland.
CARTA could not immediately be reached for comment.