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Sun September 4, 2011
Remembering Two Men Who Changed New Orlean's Public Transit Workforce
By Eve Abrams
New Orleans, Louisiana – The US Congress voted to make Labor Day a holiday back in 1894, following a railroad strike over wage cuts and long hours. In the hundred plus years since then, workers have continued to seek out safer and more just working conditions. Here in New Orleans, as in much of the country, one big change we've witnessed is the role of a worker's race in determining what type of job he or she does. Half a century ago, Freddie Sawyer integrated public transit's higher echelons when he became New Orleans' first black bus driver, and ten years later, Ronald Lewis drastically improved the conditions of the track workers upon whose labor our system of street cars depend. Eve Abrams bring us this story. Thanks to Robin White for research assistance.