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Union Asks FL Retirees to Get Involved in Transit Funding, Hazard Pay Fight

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AUGUST 3 -- The union is looking to harness the power of our Florida retirees to show Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott the wisdom of voting in favor of government support for mass transit and for hazard pay for frontline workers, including our members.
Our 3,000 TWU Local 100 retirees in the Sunshine State are a powerful political force -- because they are solid citizens and they vote. New York's two Senators -- Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand -- are already on board, but what we need are a few "red state" Senators to join them. 
A letter jointly signed by TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano and Retiree Association Director Mike Tutrone puts the issue plainly: 
"The pandemic has decimated the finances of mass transit authorities in New York, Florida, and all across the United States. Ridership dropped more than 90%. Tax revenues have dried up. The agencies calculated they need $32 billion in federal assistance or there will be waves of layoffs, furloughs and service cuts. All of this hurts America’s working families. (The MTA is asking for $3.9 billion to get through the remainder of this year.)
"Essential workers like TWU Local 100 bus and subway workers, who continue to work despite the risks to their health, also should be recognized with hazard pay. It’s the least we can do for our heroes who have ensured doctors, nurses, first responders, food industry workers and others who are so vital to the fight against COVID-19 could get to their jobs.
"Here’s what we are asking. Send an email, or call, Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Please, tell Sen. Rubio and Sen. Scott as a Floridian you support the $32 billion in transit funding and hazard pay for our essential worker heroes in Florida and all over America. They kept the lights on, the food shelves stocked and trains and buses moving." 
Read the complete letter here.

Union Honors Ulmer Park Depot Chair Nat Jenkins

Members and officers, including President Tony Utano, gathered Friday at Ulmer Park Depot in Brooklyn to wish Depot Chair Nat Jenkins good luck in his forthcoming retirement. Among those joining the event, from the left, are: Division Chair Armando Serrano, Sal Ferrera, former Ulmer Park Chair James “Momo” Manzella, Nat Jenkins, President Utano, Vice Chair Rhonda Hopkins, Drew Ramirez and Elston Morris.

Utano, Schumer Discuss Hazard Pay, Aid to MTA

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JUNE 29 -- TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer discussed efforts to secure federal funding for mass transit and hazard pay during a meeting Wednesday afternoon. Schumer (D-NY) and Utano spoke for about 25-minutes via Zoom: Utano from the Union Hall on Montague St., and Schumer from his office in Washington, D.C.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in May passed a second proposed coronavirus relief package. It includes a $3.9 billion bailout for the MTA – and money to provide individual bonuses up to $10,000 each for essential workers for their work during the pandemic.

But the Republican-controlled Senate recently introduced a much smaller alternative proposal without subsidies for agencies like the MTA or money for hazard pay. The key will be getting Republican senators from states like Florida and Texas to fund those important goals, Schumer said.

Utano pledged to tap Local 100’s senior power: retirees now living in Florida and other red states. “We will ask them to advocate on behalf of their union brothers and sisters back home in New York,” Utano said. “We’d like them to call the senators down there and urge them to support mass transit and support transit workers.”

The hazard pay component of the House-approved package would give essential workers an extra $13 an hour for the hours worked during the crisis. The maximum payout would be $10,000. Local  100 is coordinating its efforts with the International Transport Workers Union’s Governmental Affairs office in Washington, D.C.

NYU Conducting Major Health Study of COVID-19's Impact on Transit Workers

TWU Local 100 has engaged public health experts from New York University to research the infection risks transit workers have faced during the pandemic, COVID-19’s impact on the membership and the MTA’s management of the crisis.

This is an intense effort by independent scientists, who have no affiliation with the authority, to gain a better understanding of how the virus spread through the workforce. They will then recommend what additional steps are needed to protect transit workers.

“This will be the first time outside medical experts gather information from transit workers about their experiences during the pandemic and put the MTA’s actions under the microscope,” Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “We can’t bring back our fallen heroes. But we can keep working to improve safety on the job and that’s what this is all about. Local 100 has been consulting with experts from the NYU School of Global Public Health for months as we faced this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. This is an important next step not just for NY transit workers but transit workers everywhere.”

You can read the NYU press release here.

Pass The Heroes Act!

IB Image It’s hard to believe. Coronavirus cases, unemployment numbers are climbing and TWU workers are still on the frontlines, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent the Senate home without debating the HEROES Act, the next coronavirus economic relief package. Despite the health risks, thousands of TWU frontline workers continue to do their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time for the Senate to do theirs.

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Wanted for Assault on Bus Operator

IB Image The NYPD is seeking the public's assistance identifying the male in the attached photos and video wanted for questioning in connection to an assault within the confines of the 13th Precinct. The following has been reported to police:

On Monday, July 20, 2020 at approximately 0230, in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and East 29th Street, an unidentified male attempted to board a northbound M2 MTA bus without a mandatory face covering, when he was stopped by the 62-year old male bus driver. The male punched the driver in the face and fled the bus in unknown direction. The victim suffered pain and swelling and was transported to NYU Langone Hospital by EMS in stable condition.

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MTA Deploying Law Enforcement Officers to Buses

IB ImageJULY 20 -- The MTA announced today that it is deploying law enforcement officers to buses and will distribute free masks to bus riders – two safety initiatives TWU Local 100 has been urging the authority to enact.

In a press release today, the MTA said:

The MTA has deployed approximately 160 Bridge and Tunnel Officers to perform spot checks of mask compliance on buses. Bridge and Tunnel Officers will be encouraging customers to wear a mask and will be instructing those who are out of compliance to leave the system. Bridge and Tunnel Officers will also have masks on hand to provide to customers.

The MTA also is launching a pilot program this week to install surgical mask dispensers on buses, to allow customers to receive the free face coverings conveniently as they travel. The pilot will begin Friday on the Bx12 SBS and the Bx41 SBS.

Local 100 President Tony Utano called these moves “positive steps.”

The union has called for enforcement of the mask requirement, including the ejection of riders not complying and the imposition of fines. “Everyone on a bus should be wearing a mask or face covering,” Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “Passengers who are not complying with the mask rule are selfishly endangering the health of Bus Operators and their fellow riders.”
WPIX mentioned the union’s advocacy on the mask issue in a Sunday, July 19 broadcast that included this segment that mentioned Local 100 has recently surveyed bus riders and mask useage on several routes:

TWU Local 100, a union representing MTA workers, found mask compliance ranges from excellent to terrible. Union President Tony Utano said up to 40 percent of riders ride without masks on some routes.
“Bus operators should not engage riders without masks but there should be some enforcement,” Utano said. “It makes zero sense to have a rule but not enforce it. There also should be some effort to distribute free masks to riders on routes.

Union Mourns Passing of Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

JULY 18 -- Long-serving US Congressman John Lewis, the last of the civil rights leaders who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., died yesterday. He was 80 years old.

Lewis was an original Freedom Rider in 1961, a speaker at the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his I Have a Dream speech, and a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Commitee in the 1960's. Unafraid to stand up to racism, Lewis was beaten and arrested many times at protest marches and demonstrations. He described these as "getting into good trouble," a phrase which mirrors our union activism.

On March 7, 1965, Mr. Lewis was beaten while marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama. TWU Local 100 President Matthew Guinan was also on that bridge marching with the demonstrators. He committed union resources to that march and to Dr. King's cause.

In 2011, Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. TWU Local 100 mourns the loss of this courageous leader in the struggle for equality and against bigotry.

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