TheBus, Handi-van drivers call for hazard pay, but OTS says it’s a long shot

Honolulu bus drivers push for hazard pay in midst of constant COVID-19 exposure

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some drivers of Honolulu city buses and Handivans are concerned over their safety as an essential service during the pandemic.

There is now a push now to provide them with hazardous duty pay.

So far, Oahu Transportation Services says 42 staff members, including a 25 drivers, have contracted COVID — although most are said to be from exposures outside of work.

The company says it has extensive safety protocols in place, but the drivers union says they are still at significant risk.

“There’s still times in the day where social distancing, as much as we try, cannot be done because of the high volume of people at peak times in the day,” Cody Sula of the Teamsters Union 996 said

But OTS says providing hazard pay was not previously agreed upon, and is not being given to other essential workers.

“The concept of hazardous pay is not included in our collective bargaining agreements, and we note that other public sector workers, such as first responders or teachers or other such employees, do not receive hazard pay due to COVID-19,” OTS presidents Roger Morton said.

The bus company adds that $800 a month hazard pay would cost over $15 million a year. Morton says they have already tried to help drivers by spreading out hours to keep them all on full-time pay and benefits, even though ridership is down 50%.

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