CATS Bus Driver Speaks Out As Strike Looms Over Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A possible CATS bus driver strike continues to loom over the city.

We’re told the labor contract for bus drivers expired Sunday.

The union has already voted to strike. But negotiations continue under a mandatory 30-day cooling off period.

“The company, they need to have more respect for they drivers,” says CATS bus driver Tamasa Patterson.

She sits behind the wheel of a CATS bus anywhere from eight to 10 hours a day.

She knows her job is essential so thousands in Charlotte can get to work or the grocery store.

“Especially here, a lot of people ride,” she explains.

That could all come to a halt if a new deal isn’t worked out in the next 30 days between the bus drivers union and the company negotiating for CATS.

Drivers say they’re fed up with low pay, poor benefits, and safety concerns.

“As for the danger that we’re in, we’re very well not compensated for that,” Patterson says.

She was friends with Ethan Rivera, the CATS bus driver shot and killed in a road rage incident last February.

“That hit a lot of people hard. Like he was in my class and me and him kinda was close,” Patterson says.

She says bus drivers are frustrated with rules not being enforced and riders allowed to argue and scream at them.

“Cause at that point, I’m not paying too much attention to the road, I got to pay attention to you, cause I gotta know what you’re going to do to me,” Patterson says.

If a strike happens, CATS has contingency plans to run limited routes, depending on how many drivers show up.

They would prioritize 13 core routes, routes to essential destinations like hospitals, and would suspect all express service.

“Well, I know this, it would be impacted. The jobs, the restaurants, for sure, the malls,” says bus rider Erika Wilson.

She takes the bus to work every day. Her route would be one of the ones eliminated.

Still, she understands the bus drivers’ concerns.

“I totally do. And I’m with them. I don’t like it, but I totally understand,” Wilson says.

If a strike happens, light rail and streetcar service would not be affected.