Our View: Bus drivers deserve raise

Our View

In short: CrimsonRide drivers should be heard.

The CrimsonRide bus system is only a few years old, but already it has become a fixture on the UA campus. Many students rely on the buses every day to get to class and to go other places like the Strip. These students may be walking in the future if the bus drivers cannot come to an agreement with their employer.

CrimsonRide drivers at UA are currently paid $9.50 an hour, with few, if any, opportunities for raises. If these drivers work full time all year (which is not likely with the University’s schedule), they will make about $19,000. That could almost cover out-of-state tuition here. If the driver were supporting a family, that might pay for food and rent. It would keep a family of up to three people above the federal poverty line. Barely.

If $9.50 an hour is as good of a wage as advertised, then why is First Transit – the company that operates CrimsonRide and pays these bus drivers – paying drivers at the University of Texas a minimum of $11.25 an hour? Drivers in Austin are doing the same job for the same company, so the discrepancy is shocking.

The difference, of course, is that drivers at Texas organized and forced First Transit to raise their pay. Last May, drivers at the Capstone unanimously voted to join the Amalgamated Transit Union, and now they are collectively pushing to negotiate a new contract with a higher wage. First Transit is resisting, of course, but they cannot hold out forever. If drivers don’t get their new contract, they could strike, and students would feel the effect.

Since First Transit receives $55 an hour from the University per driver, the money is clearly there for them to give each driver another dollar or two. The contract with drivers at Texas is proof that First Transit is willing to concede that extra dollar or so if pressured. Now all our drivers have to do is provide the pressure. Sitting back and accepting a low wage because it’s the way things are is not enough. The students and community of the University of Alabama should make sure that everyone involved with our University, from UA President Robert Witt on down, is getting the respect they deserve.

We’ve already beaten Texas on the football field, but right now they’re beating us in how they treat those who get them to class.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.