To the Editor: I write to you on behalf of a group of retired transit workers who are extremely concerned about our active union brothers and sisters in this pandemic.
We are concerned because a false narrative of how both the MTA and TWU Local 100 handled the pandemic is being presented.
The truth of the matter is that BOTH the MTA and the union mishandled their responses from Day One.
As a result of that void, the true heroes are the rank-and-file activists who were forced to take matters into their own hands. It was literally a matter of life and death.
Activists like Michael Enriquez and Danny Cruz, who stepped up to the plate have provided an accurate timeline of when and how both the MTA and the TWU responded.
The MTA's initial reaction was to DENY any personal protective equipment to members, stating that wearing masks would "scare" the riding public. At this juncture it's obvious that the Authority was more concerned with public perception rather than the safety of their employees—and the riding public for that matter.
Keep in mind that the MTA had a Pandemic Plan prior to the virus which they ignored.
The TWU had no plan and simply followed the MTA's lead. The end result is that the death toll for TWU Local 100 is three times the amount of some other public agencies.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the bus and train operators were transporting the virus. The question is, why did it take both the MTA and the union so long to take action?!
Now that NYC has flattened the curve and is reopening, the MTA has announced restoration of full bus service by August. But as usual, the MTA is prioritizing service over the safety of their employees to get buses in full service. With the blessings of the TWU, it has chosen the cheapest possible form of driver protection, which is hanging several plastic panels by the operator. Drivers have already voiced concerns over the glare caused by the paneling, but more important is the VOC: Volatile Organic Compounds emitted from the plastic. Did the MTA do a study on the effects of VOC inhalation by humans? Did the TWU demand guarantees that the plastic panels will not harm the operators? So many questions remain unanswered, and August is fast approaching.
We hope the MTA and the TWU are not using the dedicated workers just to get things running again.
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