Shuttle bus drivers at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport sought to draw attention to what they say are unfair working conditions during a protest Thursday during which they drove around the airport's traffic loop "en masse."

In a statement about the protest released by the UFCW Local 1994 union, which is "standing with" the drivers despite their not being members, Patrick Benhene, a driver for 6 years, was paraphrased as saying the protest was about "giving drivers the basic tools to earn a living and do their jobs."

The statement says drivers work 16 to 17 hours a day to cover fees, gas and vehicle maintenance charged by Super Shuttle/Blue Van.

The protest was planned for 4 p.m. An airport spokesman directed questions to Super Shuttle.

Margaret Nathan, a Super Shuttle spokesman, said the company has been having some issues connecting drivers with fares due to technological glitches with new GPS and telecommunications equipment, but that it is working to resolve them.

"We are trying very hard to work with our drivers," she said, noting that the company has a hotline for drivers to call when problems arise.

Dwight Kines, regional vice president with Veolia Transportation On Demand, said he was disappointed with how the drivers are expressing their displeasure. He said Super Shuttle drivers make more money than drivers of competing services. "Our business model is solid. They make money and the company makes money," he said.

He said he expects all the equipment issues will be resolved by the first of the year.

The drivers recently attempted to unionize, but were not allowed by the National Labor Relations Board because they are not considered employees but franchises, Nathan said.

That decision is being appealed, she said.

krector@baltsun.com

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