TRANSIT WORKERS ON THE FRONT LINES FIGHTING COVID 19
by Mark Henry, Chair, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) NYS Legislative Conference Board & President/Business Agent, ATU Local 1056
The members of ATU local 1056 move essential and non essential workers daily. We are exposed to all dangers, transit workers still show great resiliency mentally and physically under uncertain conditions. The members are particularly vulnerable, working against an unknown assailant according to health experts. We still know little about COVID-19 other than it attacks vulnerable populations, the symptoms vary, and we too often experience a devastating aftermath.
Government and Agency miss steps, in providing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) timely could have saved a lives. COVID has exposed decades of disparity of services, medical centers, health care, quality of school education, shopping, types restaurants, and housing, but mainly public transportation; the inequality in every one of these categories is immense. Our communities are marginalized and undervalued. ATU and our colleagues in MTA labor raised this need including timely cleaning of Equipment and workspaces, social distancing in workplace, rear boarding, and blocking of first several rows of bus, requiring passengers to wear masks.
New York City needs public transit to work in order to re-open NYC and allow our city and our nation’s economy to rebound. An essential service should not put the public at risk when they use that service. The authority must provide the necessary service level so riders can easily maintain social distancing. Our agencys needs a protected, safe and healthy workforce and workplace to provide levels of service needed to assure the riding public they can safely return to work via public transit.
Public must continue to protect our members by their own adherence to measures such as wearing masks and physical distancing. We need support to pressure the MTA and government to ensure service levels that make transit safe for the riding public. We deserve "Hazard Pay PERIOD!" The world has changed as we know it ... The agency and public must adjust to those new Normals, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19