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Bus Riders' Union Marches

by John Kawakami Thursday, Aug. 17, 2000 at 1:34 AM

The Bus Rider's Union marched today. What are they about, and why do bus riders need to unionize?

Members of the Bus Rider's Union marched on the 15th. Their goal, to get the government to honor its consent degree, buying new buses to ease overcrowding, and to stop federal funding for the MTA to pay for its trains.

The Bus Riders' Union Website - http://www.busridersunion.org/

The Bus Rider's Union has made major headlines during the past decade, fighting for the civil rights of people who ride the bus. Using the bus as their venue, the BRU organizes bus passengers, who are overwhelmingly Latino and Black, and generally poor or elderly and on fixed incomes, sowing the seeds of experience that are vital to future labor and community organizing.

Their project cuts across racial lines, bringing together groups which, in the labor economy, are often pitted against each other, with ethnic antagonism and language differences becoming barriers to the solidarity essential to widespread organizing. So powerful an insipirational has been their work, that it's no only been covered by a documentary, but has also become the subject of a Hollywood film.

Their argument: that underfunding of bus service is racism, and a violation of civil rights. Bus riders are poor people, and almost always people of color. Publically funded transit, they argue, spends more per person on ail passengers, while bus passengers get an ever shrinking proportion of the budget.

The Bus Riders' Union is a project of the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which is an umbrella organization and think tank working to build democratic and internationalist social movements.

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