On May 17th, we worked with Portland Jobs with Justice to hold a hearing of the Portland-area Workers Rights Board, concerning paratransit service in Portland. Paratransit, branded in and around Portland as TriMet LIFT, is provided by a Scotland-based for-profit corporation called First Transit, which also operates much of Oregon’s school bus service through their sister company, First Student.
Nearly 120 community members, transit workers, social-justice activists, and paratransit riders joined us to hear testimony on the conditions workers and riders face at TriMet LIFT. We heard heartbreaking testimony from riders who described long wait times on the bus, canceled rides, and low-quality service. Workers described inhumane working conditions, with drivers routinely denied bathroom and meal breaks, scheduling processes that make no sense, and a management that cares more about its bottom line than the workers who provide service.
One thing is clear: First Transit’s “profit over people” mentality is harming ALL of us.
This Workers Rights Board event is just the first step in our work to fight for justice for paratransit workers. Check out the recap from Portland Jobs with Justice, and stay tuned – we’re going to hold First Transit and TriMet accountable, but it’s going to take ALL OF US stepping up to make it happen.
On June 25th, we’ll host a follow-up event, “Community Speak Out on Public Transit and Housing Accessibility,” in partnership with Portland Jobs with Justice and the Real Choice Initiative. Join us at SEIU 503 (6401 SE Foster Rd., Portland) from 6:30 – 8:00pm to listen and share your story – and if you can join us at 6pm, we’ll be hosting a short rally in front of SEIU to build public awareness of our struggle!