After failed negotiations, CATS bus drivers vote to strike

Multiple CATS bus operators confirmed to WBTV the majority of employees voted to strike.
After months of unsuccessful contract negotiations, CATS bus operators confirmed Sunday they are voting to strike.
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 9:02 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - After months of unsuccessful contract negotiations, CATS bus operators confirmed Saturday they are voting to strike.

While the vote went through, bus drivers and CATS alike warn this does not mean the strike happens now. It just means this could happen in the future, following negotiations with union leaders.

The next step for SMART Union is to file their strike vote with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services and paperwork to SMART International. This must happen at least 30 days before a strike occurs.

A move that comes after three rejected labor contracts, and months of contract negotiations with RATPDev, the company hired to run the bus system, a strike would mean an organized protest where drivers would stop working for a period of time.

Also Read: CATS releases ‘report’ finding problems with procurement and finance; City claims CFO resigning unrelated

In several transit strikes listed on the SMART Union website, the union representing the bus drivers, a strike vote does not automatically lead to a strike. It is often followed by days of negotiation and a decision on time and place before the day comes to strike.

This means bus routes will likely not be affected right away.

Even so, drivers like Tamasa Patterson emphasize that this needed to be done so their concerns over pay, health insurance, safety and the attendance policy are heard loud and clear.

“A lot has led up to this. Mostly, I think mostly safety led to this because a lot of drivers do not feel safe at their job,” explained Patterson.

“If we have to deal with a situation with a customer, that means our focus is taken away...and when you’re dealing with that size of a vehicle, you don’t need to not be focused.”