The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's bus driver union voted to bring in an arbitrator in the disupted firing of a bus driver involved in a physical altercation with a passenger last year.
Artis Hughes was fired Nov. 6 after a prolonged argument with a female passenger that ended with the driver punching the passenger. A video of Hughes uppercutting the passenger on the bus in Beachwood went viral on the web.
The RTA said that Hughes' actions were outside with the organization's policies, and the driver has been charged with assault.
The passenger, Shidea Lane, also has been charged with disorderly conduct.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 268 President William Nix said union members approved the measure to seek arbitration unanimously.
The arbitration will be binding, so the third party's decision will stand.
"We would love for him to get his job back," Nix said. "He should be made whole."
Nix said Hughes' firing sent a bad message that it's acceptable to mistreat drivers and prompted other similar assaults on bus drivers.
"Anyone who wants to get away with something, you can just go out and attack a bus driver and you won't get caught and you won't get arrested," Nix said.
In October, the RTA reported there had been 71 assaults on drivers in the past five years. Since then, at least two more assaults have been reported in the local media, sparking safety discussions between the union and Cleveland City officials.