But you may be surprised to learn that this mantra has also recently been taken up by an unlikely local organization: Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998.
The union representing Milwaukee’s transit employees has been at odds with Milwaukee County Transit System for over 18 months over a new contract for MCTS employees. After months of back-and-forth, MCTS submitted their best and final offer this month with significant concession to the union, including a wage increase for employees and dropping a co-insurance health care provision.
But it is the union’s most recent demand – to allow bus drivers to carry firearms – that is the current sticking point, and it is a dangerous one for our community. ATU Local 998 President James Macon has even gone so far as to encourage a transit strike on his Facebook page because MCTS has, rightfully, decided this proposal is a non-starter.
Arming bus drivers is bad policy that could have severe, dangerous, and unintended consequences for drivers and passengers. To even threaten a countywide transit strike with the objective of putting guns on buses is beyond reckless.
We know drivers (as well as passengers) have safety concerns and we know drivers have a difficult job. But rather than keeping drivers safe, arming bus drivers will most likely have the opposite effect and endanger riders and passengers alike.
The “good guy with a gun” theory of public safety has been debunked time and time again. Just last week, six Philadelphia cops were shot and injured by one suspect in a standoff. Mass shootings have occurred at two U.S. military bases within the past decade, and many law enforcement experts believe the presence of more armed civilians in mass shooting situations would only increase casualties, not prevent them.
Everybody deserves to feel safe in the workplace. We should all feel safe when we ride the bus, go to school, go to a shopping mall, see a movie, play with our kids outside, or do any other activity. The solution to the gun violence crisis in our country is not more guns – it is fewer guns, restrictions on criminals and dangerous individuals from having guns, universal background checks, restoring the assault weapons ban, and other common-sense measures to keep us safe.
MCTS is right to stand their ground and reject the proposal to arm bus drivers. Given the importance of public transit to our community, it is unfathomable to us that ATU leadership would even consider a strike over this proposal. We strongly urge union membership to reject the strike vote and put this dangerous proposal to bed for good.