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GR Bus Driver’s Union confronts Mayor Bliss during Labor Day walk

September 4, 2017

Earlier today, members of the Grand Rapids Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and supporters, gathered near the Ah Nab Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids. Several hundred people were getting ready to participate in the annual Mayor’s Labor Day Walk with the ATU members wanting to make a statement about the failure of Mayor Rosalynn Bliss to honor the bus driver’s union contract.

Just last week, the ATU protested at The Rapid Board meeting, where an ATU member was arrested, while Mayor Bliss and other board members voted to give The Rapid CEO a raise.

ATU members and supporters led the walk and while crossing the Grand River on Bridge St, labor activists stopped moving and forced walkers, including Mayor Bliss, to go around them.

Forcing people to walk around them, the labor activists then were able to surround the Mayor, continuing to engage her about her union busting tactics. By the time the Labor Day walk arrived at the corner of Bridge and Front Street, the Mayor was so rattled by the presence of labor activists and their supporters, she stopped walking and waiting for GRPD officers to escort her away from those protesting.

ATU members and supporters stayed at the corner of Bridge and Front Street, where they engaged other people who were participating in the Mayor’s Labor Day Walk. Some people were clearly upset with what the labor activists were doing and didn’t understand why they were protesting the Grand Rapids Mayor. This writer overheard one person say that this was an inappropriate action for the activists to take. One activist responded by saying, “What don’t you understand? This is a labor protest on Labor Day!

Here is some video of the ATU members and supporters confronting the Mayor on the corner of Bridge and Front Street.

After about 15 minutes, the Grand Rapids Mayor finally decided to give up and walk back to where the Labor Day walk began, instead of continue on the route that her supporters had taken.

Clearly, this was a victory for the ATU members and their supporters. The Mayor of Grand Rapids will not soon forget (as she walks away in the photo to the right) this display of labor solidarity, but it might take the proposed boycott of the Transit Millage this November to get the Mayor to actually agree to renegotiate the contract with the Grand Rapids Amalgamated Transit Union.


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