Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022

‘We didn’t sign up to die’: US transit workers sound alarm over rising violence

‘We didn’t sign up to die’: US transit workers sound alarm over rising violence


‘We didn’t sign up to die’: US transit workers sound alarm over rising violence

Monique Rondon, a bus operator in New York City for 23 years, has been spat on and assaulted several times on the job.

Now transit workers and labor unions across America are sounding the alarm over the trend of violence, assaults, and abuse that workers in the transportation industry in the US have faced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, a crisis they say will continue to worsen without federal action and implementation of safety protections and rules.

In New York, at least one worker a week, on average, has reported being assaulted on the job, and dozens report experiencing verbal harassment. Rondon said bus operators are asking for vehicles where operators are completely separated from the public, similar to airline pilots in their cockpits.

"We cannot retain people coming to work. The absentee records are ridiculous just because they're tired, they're fed up, emotionally and physically. They don't feel like they're getting any help from the transit authority whatsoever," said Rondon, who is also a chief union steward for Transport Workers Union local 100.

She added: "Nothing is giving them incentive to come to work because they don't feel safe, they don't feel protected, and they feel like even if they do anything the transit authority comes down on us first."

More than 20 national labor unions wrote a letter in March to the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Authority, demanding federal action to protect transit workers on the job and implement baseline safety standards that were included in the bipartisan infrastructure law that Joe Biden signed in November.

"Our unions are seeing historic levels of attrition as bus and subway operators, station agents, car cleaners, and others protect themselves in the only way available to them: leaving public transportation," the unions wrote.

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