SILVER SPRING, Md. (April 15, 2020) — As infections and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic mount, the Amalgamated Transit Union is demanding that the nation’s transit agencies and private transit companies provide 10 Safe Service protections for frontline transit workers. The ATU represents more than 200,000 metropolitan, interstate, and school bus drivers; paratransit, light rail, subway, streetcar, and ferry boat operators; and others.
TAKE A STAND — Please add your name to this petition to transit agencies and companies demanding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), strategic service levels that maximize social distancing, rear door boarding, pandemic leave and other measures to ensure that ATU members can safely transport essential workers to the front lines in this fight, while protecting their jobs, their livelihoods, and their families throughout this crisis.
Transit workers have been working around the clock during this crisis to deliver critical transit for workers on the front lines. ATU members are proud to carry emergency service, healthcare, grocery, and retail workers, and those who are seeking care. But transit workers are being unnecessarily exposed to coronavirus because transit agencies and private transit companies across North America have spent the last decade auditioning for “most cost effective” instead of preparing for crisis like this. Now, the consequences are costing workers their lives.
At least 21 ATU members have died after contracting COVID-19, including Snohomish County Community Transit employee and ATU Local 1576 shop steward Scott Ryan, 41. Early on, Ryan worried about transit drivers being exposed to COVID-19, writing Feb. 28 in a private Facebook group for bus drivers: “Our buses under ‘normal’ circumstances are germ tubes on wheels… My personal thought? We are high risk ticking time bombs for being exposed to someone with it.”
Ryan is survived by a wife and three teenage children.
“More than 300 of the transit agencies where our members work have failed to implement critical changes needed to keep their workers and riders safe, even as a second wave of this deadly virus sweeps across the continent,” wrote ATU International President John Costa in a letter to all 600 transit properties where ATU members work. “We are proud to carry emergency service, healthcare, grocery, and retail workers, and those who need care. But, as ATU International President, I cannot in good conscience encourage my members to go into the line of fire without the armor and provisions they need.”
Here are the 10 Safe Service protections that the ATU petition demands:
1. Increased health and safety measures for transit workers and the riding public, including gloves, masks, sanitizers, and all PPE needed.
2. Pandemic leave for anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, exposed to them, or with family or childcare obligations resulting from shutdowns.
3. Compensating workers classified as essential during a public health crisis with at least 1.5 times their normal wage.
4. Rear door entry and fare elimination to support social distancing.
5. Retaining employees and maintaining wages and benefits during service curtailment.
6. Strategic continuation of service to avoid overcrowding.
7. Limiting bus passenger loads to no more than 10 and paratransit to no more than 1.
8. Limiting service access to essential workers and those seeking care.
9. Requiring passengers to wear masks to board a transit vehicle.
10. Fully-paid, on-site testing of transit workers for COVID-19 symptoms.
Please support ATU members across the nation by signing this petition. Thank you.