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Union proposes arming MCTS bus drivers with guns

Posted at 11:19 AM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 17:34:52-04

MILWAUKEE — If approved in contract negotiations, a proposal by the Amalgamated Transit Union would allow some MCTS drivers to carry guns on their buses.

ATU, Local 998 President James Macon proposed this bargaining demand in a news release Thursday:

Due to the lack of security on the buses, all drivers who are approved to carry a concealed weapon in the State of Wisconsin are allowed to carry their concealed weapon on the bus.

Along with arming drivers, Macon would like to see a full enclosure for his workers.

"We are trying to bring better security on the bus, but it’s a joke to them because they don’t want to spend the money," said Macon.

A woman recently was charged after allegedly attacking an MCTS driver. The driver reportedly sustained a 2- to 3-inch stab wound.

The alleged attacker boarded an MCTS bus near West Capitol Drive and West Appleton Avenue. She immediately began harassing the bus driver and eventually jumped over the partial partition and began to press any and all buttons she could on the bus control panel, according to the criminal complaint.

The alleged attacker was on top of the steering wheel when the driver called dispatch. She demanded the driver to drop the phone, and at that point, the driver said he observed something in the alleged attacker's hand he believed to be a knife.

The driver attempted to fight the alleged attacker off the steering wheel when she reportedly cut his right forearm.

"Right now people don’t want to pay the fares, and I tell the drivers don’t push the issue. Don’t risk your life pushing the issue," said Macon.

ATU locations that are allowed to carry concealed weapons on buses are Kentucky and Utah.

Here is the statement from MCTS:

"Mr. Macon’s public demand to arm MCTS bus drivers is an irresponsible proposal. Our next negotiation date is June 3 and we will address all contract issues at that time."

Some riders have mixed feelings about the proposal.

"I think there are steps that could be taken without escalating to that level of concealed-carry firearm," said bus rider Brandon.

"They are being attacked and they don’t have a way to get them off of them, and I feel like they need a gun on their side to protect them," said Bertha Rayford.

MCTS said in an email their buses are safe and serious incidents are extremely rare. In 2018, they gave 30 million rides and there were 15 physical acts of aggression toward drivers. This category includes occurrences such as spitting, splashing liquids and touching.

MCTS said it will discuss the proposal June 3.