News from TWU Local 100

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.

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.

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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.

NY 1 Report: Transit Union Demands Masks Enforcement on City Buses as Ridership Returns

JULY 9 — NY1 Reporter Dan Rivoli reports on the MTA's refusal to enforce rules on mask wearing on buses. You can watch the report here.

Here's the text of the report:

NEW YORK - Bus drivers are seeing too many faces of passengers not wearing a face covering. It’s unnerving bus drivers who either radio to their command center to report violators or make announcements reminding passengers that masks are mandatory.

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$100,000 in Scholarship Grants is Awarded to Local 100 Members and their Families

JULY 8 -- $100,000 in scholarship grants was awarded today at the Union Hall. TWU Local 100 administered the awards program, which is underwritten by M3 Technology, which also provides insurance coverage to members on a voluntary basis. The winners were announced by our Scholarship Coordinator, Shannon Poland, who is also Assistant to President Tony Utano and a Union Trustee. Brother Poland announced the winners as they were pulled at random. The first two winners will receive $10,000 each, the next six will receive $5,000 each, and the remaining 50 will receive $1,000 each. Brother Poland will contact the winners to ask them for the necessary documents before the funds are disbursed.

We Mourn Railroad Stock Worker Lafayette Terrell, Taken by the Virus

The Division of Supply Logistics – in charge of distributing the equipment used by transit workers in maintenance and repair throughout the system -- suffered a serious loss on May 2 with the death of Lafayette Terrell, who worked nights at the Pelham Maintenance Shop in the Bronx. Mr. Terrell was 65 and had 39 years of service with New York City Transit. He had served in the US Army for four years before beginning his transit career.

Lafayette's younger brother, Angelo Terrell, Assistant Chief Officer of Supply Logistics, encouraged Lafayette to join transit in 1981, a year after he started the job in 1980.

"I always loved you. I miss you so much. We were brothers and best friends," he said.

He said both his brother and himself wore masks at work but got sick with COVID-19 in April. They fought the disease together. Angelo developed antibodies and recovered, but Lafayette, who had other health risks, was not so fortunate. Angelo said responding firefighters initially advised Lafayette not to go to the hospital because it was overwhelmed with virus cases at the time, and instead try to win the battle at home with supplemental oxygen. Lafayette felt better for a time, his brother said, but then had to be hospitalized and was put on a ventilator after the third day in the hospital. He died on Saturday, May 2. In his immediate family, Lafayette leaves his wife, Karen, and four daughters, Barshona, Chadera, Alisha, and Divana to mourn.

Ivan Barco, a Railroad Stock Worker who worked with Lafayette Terrell for eight years at the Pelham Shop, said "he was very gentle, courteous, and respectful. He never took a day off, only took off for vacation. He used to talk about his daughters and how he would go down to North Carolina to see them.

"He was very thorough and was always on point. When he did something he always did it the right way. He was always on time, always punctual. And he liked wearing his jewelry, his rings and chain. He was a nice dresser, and a funny guy. He was down to earth. All of the Cleaners miss him."

 

Daily News Report: MTA opens bus windows to counter COVID — but drivers say the real issue is low mask usage.

Today's Daily News reports that while the MTA is directing Bus Operators to open windows to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many riders are not wearing masks:

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
JUL 07, 2020 AT 5:30 PM
 
Bus windows and roof hatches must be opened to spread fresh air to stop the spread of coronavirus, MTA officials have ordered — but many bus drivers feel the move doesn’t go far enough. “There’s a lot of fresh air circulating” through open bus windows, Interim NYC Transit president Sarah Feinberg said Tuesday in an interview on NY1, noting that the extra air flow should help mitigate the virus.
 
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority memo sent to all bus employees on June 23 noted that the windows must be opened on all non-express buses so long as the weather permits.
It’s possible the memo is not being widely followed.
 
A survey of 10 buses in Manhattan by the Daily News on Tuesday afternoon found that just three of the buses had open windows, and just one had an open roof hatch.
 
“Bus drivers have discretion when it comes to opening windows and today’s heat and humidity was one reason some windows remained closed,” said MTA spokesman Ken Lovett.

 

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Union Mourns David Gantt, 78, Chair of NYS Assembly Transportation Committee

TWU Local 100 mourns the passing of longtime NYS Assemblyman David Gantt, 78, who passed away last Wednesday, of long-term illness. Assemblyman Gantt served in the legislature for nearly 40 years, and his stewardship of the Transportation Committee made him a go-to legislator for Local 100. "He was always willing to meet with us in Albany to advance our shared agenda -- better mass transit for under-served communities amd more protections for the transit workforce," President Tony Utano said. Members may recall meeting with Mr. Gantt at our lobby days in Albany.

Mr. Gantt was the only African American from Monroe County ever elected to the state Legislature. A Democrat, he was known as a fighter for civil rights and championed funding for Rochester public schools. He grew up poor in Alabama and his family moved to Rochester in the 1950's. He is credited with a legacy that, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, "brought a pantheon of younger African American elected officials and leaders into government."

 

TWU International Announces Scholarship Winners

JULY 1 -- The TWU of America today announced scholarship winners from many of our local unions across the country. Many are the children of TWU Local 100 members. You can read the complete list here.

Awards come from five separate funds that endow scholarships for union members and their families and are picked through a lottery. They are the Michael J. Quill Scholarship Awards and four other award programs funded by Union Benefit Planners, M3 Technology, Pitta LLP, and Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno, LLC. Congratulations to all the winners!

Sec-Treas Earl Phillips examines new partition at Quill Depot in Manhattan
Sec-Treas Earl Phillips examines new partition at Quill Depot in Manhattan

Union Officials Review New Bus Barrier Concepts

JUNE 30 -- The MTA today showcased new barriers to separate Bus Operators from riders as it looks to resume fare collection some time in August. There could be additional modifications but under the current MTA plan there are different retrofits for different bus models.

The vast majority of buses – 4,200 locals – will get a retrofit with a sliding see-through polycarbonate panel extending towards the front windshield, MTA officials said. When manually extended, the sliding panel extends about 18-inches farther towards the windshield than existing partitions. Approximately 600 older buses (Orions), and all 1,000 express buses, initially would get retractable vinyl curtains. But the authority is developing prototypes for those buses similar to the more solid, sliding-panel design, transit management said. When fare collection resumes, riders will not be allowed to sit in the front row, the MTA said.

TWU Local 100 Secretary-Treasurer Earl Phillips, MaBSTOA Vice President Richard Davis and MTA Bus/Private Lines V.P. Pete Rosconi were among the Local 100 officers who inspected the barriers at the Quill Depot. MTA officials said the authority will retrofit as many buses as possible before resuming front-door boarding and fare collection, but said the entire fleet may not be done by then.

Local 100 President Tony Utano said any bus going into passenger service will have to have a barrier if passengers are to board through the front door. “We’re not going to allow our Bus Operators to pull out a bus without a barrier of protection while the pandemic is going on,” Utano said.

For a longer-term upgrade, Utano and Phillips have previously urged the MTA to pursue a completely new bus design where Bus Operators are enclosed in a cab that extends the entire width of the bus. The front door of such a bus is shifted behind the front right wheel. MTA bus officials on Tuesday said they are looking into that possibility. "These are steps in the right direction and we will continue to push the MTA, as we have for years, to improve safety for our Bus Operators," Phillips said.

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