ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - MARTA officials say that they are heading to court after dozens of bus drivers called out sick days before the Super Bowl.
For months, officials have advised everyone pouring into Atlanta for the Super Bowl to use ridesharing services and MARTA, but for the last two days there have been major delays on MARTA bus routes.
That's because MARTA claims some drivers have staged a "sick out" in response to a dispute over a salary package.
On Monday, approximately 130 drivers called out sick. Tuesday, 80 drivers did the same. The delays have continued on Wednesday, with multiple routes backed up due to a decrease in drivers.
Lots of delays this AM on MARTA bus routes. More sick drivers?— K A I T L Y N 👩🏻🦰 P R A T T (@Fox5Kaitlyn) January 30, 2019
Union leaders say it’s not an official sick-out. A deal with raises was on the table.
But MARTA plans on taking legal action today by filing a court injunction pic.twitter.com/t9z3rRwgM2
“MARTA has a solemn and statutory obligation to provide transit services to our customers. We have taken this extraordinary legal step today because behavior by some bus operators that adversely impacts our customer service is inappropriate and unacceptable," a MARTA spokesman said in a statement to FOX 5. "Their actions violate state law and have caused unnecessary hardships for thousands of people who depend on us.”
Union representatives say they have no reason to believe the drivers who called out aren't actually sick.
“I don’t personally believe that people would intentionally do anything to harm this city because I would hope that people would want to do their job,” Union representative Rufus Silas said.
MARTA has called any sick outs or strikes "illegal" and plans to solve the delays by filing an injunction in Fulton Superior Court Wednesday to end work slowdown.
“I am deeply disappointed in the actions of some ATU Local 732 members,” MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker said in a statement. “MARTA put a deal on the table that I believe is the best arrangement this union has ever received. After months of negotiations and finally coming to a wage agreement, ATU has caused a significant disruption to MARTA’s bus service.”