ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A massive MARTA bus driver call-out could have major impacts for metro Atlanta, as one million people are expected to come into the city during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIII.
Monday evening, MARTA reported numerous rush hour delays across its service area due to 80 drivers calling in sick. This continued Tuesday morning, with the transit agency tweeting several routes that were running behind after 73 drivers called out.
Around 5 p.m. Monday, MARTA officials issued a statement that the agency will file for a court order in Fulton County Superior Court to end the sick-out, which it calls illegal under state law.
“On January 25, 2019, I wrote the union leadership a letter notifying them that any slow down or organized work stoppage was a violation of state law and MARTA would pursue all disciplinary and legal remedies available," MARTA CEO Jeff Parker said in a statement. "The action today is unacceptable and we will use every tool available to make sure our riders are not harmed by this work stoppage.”
The alleged "sick-out" is reportedly the result of drivers unhappy with union contract negotiations over the weekend.
Monday night, ATU Local 732 president Michael Majette told FOX 5, he nor union leaders authorized a "sick out" and asked drivers to return to work Tuesday.
"It's not right to us to be accused of something that we don't have anything to do with, nor is it right to the community which depends on us," Majette said, vowing to find out who is responsible for organizing dozens of workers calling in sick.
BREAKING: MARTA officials confirm about 80 bus drivers called in sick this morning following contract negotiations over the weekend. Officials say the new untion contract has been reached, they are 'working' to get all drivers back before PM rush hour. #fox5atl pic.twitter.com/PqewKKmM2P— Will Nunley FOX 5 (@willnunleyfox5) January 28, 2019
Buses sat empty in some MARTA parking lots. Majette said in one location in Northwest Atlanta, 60 workers called out sick for the day.
MARTA ran services Tuesday despite the weather warnings.
When asked what the agency will do if the sick-outs continue, a statement said that the union has been placed "on notice" and expects drivers to return to work.
MARTA said it plans to file the injunction Wednesday morning as soon as the courthouse reopens, after being closed Tuesday due to inclement weather.