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ATU Local 1056 Testimony at Assembly MTA Hearing
Posted On: Jan 16, 2013
ATU Local 1056 Testimony at Assembly MTA Hearing Friday, January 11, 2013 Submitted by ATU Local 1056, Daneek Miller, President/ Business Agent Amalgamated Transit Local 1056 appreciates this hearing as opportunity to comment on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Budget and to share its concerns of regarding the future policies, planning and finances of the MTA. I am I. Daneek Miller, President and Business Agent for ATU Local 1056, which represents drivers and mechanics who work for MTA New York City Transit's Queens bus division. I also co-chair the MTA Labor Coalition. As I did during the MTA's own budget hearings, I commend formerMTA Chair Joe Lhota, Authority President Tom Prendergast and Bus Division chief Darryl Irick for their leadership leading up to, and in the aftermath, of Superstorm Sandy. And I want to especially commend and praise the system's workers including the membership of ATU Local 1056 for stepping up and helping New Yorkers get by and making sure alternative modes of transit existed while we waited for subway service to resume system-wide. This demonstrates how buses matter both as a practical and flexible transit mode. Buses offer a cost-effective means to expand public transit options where none or insufficient modes exist. Based on our experience and knowledge of the MTA system, ATU 1056 puts emphasis on the need to continue to rebuild bus service ? as we did this month - and invest in the infrastructure necessary to keep our buses running and deliver the best service possible to New Yorkers and those who visit or work here. This includes the need to move on a new Jamaica Depot, to bolster the Casey Stengel Depot against flooding risks (Managers moved the buses to ?higher ground? in advance of Sandy.) and to look at a bus terminal in Flushing that then Assembly member ? now Member of Congress ? Grace Meng proposed late last Spring. Public transportation remains key to economic growth. No doubt certain folks in real estate and development recognized when they pushed for the Far West Side station between Javits and Times Square. For just that same rationale ? economic growth and meeting the public's needs for transit, ATU 1056 advocates a better bus replacement schedule for Queens with too many old buses and modernized bus terminals to meet existing ridership capacities as well as the new Jamaica depot. Representing all hourly rated Employees of the Queens Division, Who safely Operate and Maintain Buses for MTA New York City Transit. Serving the communities of Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx since January 23rd, 1935. Longer term the MTA must focus on better use of its bus lines to serve intra-borough needs rather than just funneling riders to subways and rail. Better planning also increases utilization of some under-capacity routes that offer needed service and foster local growth. We continue to advocate a review of certain MTA practices and operations. The newly created Business Service Centers ? transit's ?CityTime? ? duplicate services and create inefficiencies that undermine rather than enhance worker productivity. Too many times we observe errors in paychecks, delays, mishandling of health claims and the like. Anyone who studies worker productivity knows the difference content worker brings on the job; the the BSC introduced a way to undermine our efforts to maintain that edge. As we observed with other socalled efficiency projects ? from CityTime to E9-1-1, a scheme that claims to save dollars through technology too often diverts dollars from services and capital improvements and fail to deliver savings (if any at all) to justify the boondoggle. Many also question how the MTA contracts out, including for professional services. This makes much of its legal services unnecessarily costly and inefficient. Many pundits and commentators often glossed over how transit was shortchanged, if not outright robbed, by the city and state over the years. The ATU Local 1056 also urges the MTA, state and city to seek and obtain more federal stimulus and other funding for transit. Our local works with concerned residents, our electeds, our brothers and sisters in labor and our International to effect this assistance from Congress. Investing in transit means more than repairs, new cars and buses and routes; it means a stable, affordable fare that encourages mass transit use and provides an affordable means for workers and visitors to get around. It remains absolutely imperative that the MTA and the City and State officials who appoint the MTA board and all of our electeds remember the plight of our fellow working stiffs. Others have described reasonable revenue measures to the extent they prove necessary and ATU Local 1056 pledges to be part of any reasonable conversation that involve fairness and equity. Thank you.
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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

          COVID-19 disrupted our lives, It infected many individuals and families, It took too many lives! 

            My members and other public transit workers get these people who WE NEED to get to their workplaces to and from their jobs and homes.  Some of these workers go home to crowded conditions not conducive to staying healthy when we face a pandemic.  We saw the images of Elmhurst Hospital the public hospital which serves Corona.  Exposed to all dangers, transit workers still show great resiliency mentally and physically under uncertain conditions.

            As president of a public bus transit union I observed firsthand these impacts among members of ATU Local 1056 and the commuters they serve throughout Queens.  Many of our members who operate and maintain NYC Transit bus routes serving Queens with some routes extending into The Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, come from communities of color.  Many bus riders live in these communities.  Too often these communities lack the services they need.  Crises such as this pandemic exacerbates these disparities. COVID-19 has shown all the economic pitfalls, adverse impacts of cost-cutting and elimination of programs over past years…it’s amazing that your zip code could impact your quality of life.

            Look at the disparity of services, medical centers, health care, hospital closures, quality of school education, physical fitness, curriculums, public services, shopping, groceries 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.

            It remains important as we still know little about COVID-19 other than it attacks vulnerable populations, the symptoms vary, and we too often experience a devastating aftermath. My members are particularly vulnerable, working against an unknown assailant virus that has a limitless time frame, according to health experts.

            UNFORTUNATELY, our governments acted slowly.  Providing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) timely could have saved a lives. The Transit Authority lamented that decision when the first transit workers died as a result of COVID -19.  ATU and our colleagues in MTA labor raised this need.  Only then did the authority provide needed PPE to workers and initiated effective measures suggested by the unions (Cleaning of Equipment and workspaces, social distancing in workplace, rear boarding, and blocking of first several rows of bus, requiring passengers to wear masks). 

            We note the MTA and NYC Transit finally responded despite official CDC recommendations to provide our members, and the riding public protective measures.  We appreciate the efforts of the Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, Councilman I. Daneek Miller, COMTO and Member of Congress Grace Meng in this regard to supply PPE items.  Going forward we need protective barriers for bus operators in ALL buses. The MTA has also increased COVID19 testing opportunities and screens our members before they enter our depots in Jamaica, Queens Village and Flushing/Corona (Casey Stengel). We also appreciate the efforts to clean and disinfect buses, subways and stations.  These cleaning protocols matter: ATU supports the recently mandated a 24 hour cleaning schedule for public transit equipment to help reduce the spread of the virus through the community; this includes addressing the serious homeless problem on buses – yes also on buses – and trains as these individuals seek shelter through the mass transit system.  As to overnight subway closures, MTA and authority already “enjoy” shuttle bus replacements where it shuts down parts of system and it should rely solely on its public transit bus operators and not privatize a public service. Outsourcing work makes absolutely no sense – especially for an agency strapped for cash – as an answer to any overnight subway closures. We continue to object to the Authority directly and in statements, testimonies and various media on this privatization of some services when the subways are shutdown overnight 1:00 – 5:00 a.m.  We argue for greater bus deployments.  More sensible when about 50% of the affected subway riders commute between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m.

            The transit authority remains consistent, not recognizing or minimizing the value of their employees. Even when it comes to Government stimulus programs at federal or state level, they carved out their employees from receiving the necessary relief. Pandemic relief in those documents, stimulus laws, must provide relief to our membership. Stress of working in the unknown and still providing for your family adds to the anger and frustration. Our Transit workers merit hazardous pay as “essential workers” with demonstrated recognition.

            Focusing on NYC (24/7), especially in the outer boroughs where many transit deserts exist, 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. The best way to kill a neighborhood is to kill its public transit or limit its usage and service.  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. What is needed 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. The workers needed to sustain the rebound in services, support roles, hospitality, retail, public service, health care, education need safe public transit to return to work in numbers enough to make a difference. Our neighborhoods need to reflect what is necessary to sustain communities of color with a proper lifestyle.  Maybe then COVID-19 could be defeated or at least somewhat contained.

            We seek the public’s support on continued protections for our members and 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 need support for hazard pay.  We need employers who can implement policies to stagger work hours and days until conditions change.  We need to Authority looking at deployments of buses to help address potential unsafe crowding along routes.

Open Competitive and/or Promotional Exams (NOE)

Notice of Examinations (NOE) for positions within the Transit Authority are open for filing.  For applicants to apply or receive more information about an Open Competitive and/or Promotional exam they visit MTA  Examinations Employment website at http://web.mta.info/nyct/hr/appexam.htm

Each NOE contains key details, including education and experience requirements, application instructions, expected test dates, and other exam-specific test information

 
 
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