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Childcare For Essential MTA Workers

New York City has launched a new program that will provide all MTA employees who reside in NYC, and whose children attend school in the city, with free childcare at Department of Education locations. Program details are below. You can read the Q&A from the NYC Department of Education here.

Here are the key points:

The Program will begin on March 23rd and centers will be open 7:30 am to 6:00 pm.

Regional centers will be in every school district in New York City and include early childcare through K-12. Children eligible for enrollment: 3-18 years of age and must be NYC residents. If your child is a NYC resident and you would like to enroll in one of these centers, complete this form: REC Enrollment Form

Please complete the form for each child you plan to enroll. You will then receive an email confirming your child’s enrollment.

Remote instruction will be offered, 3 hot meals served a day; art, music and physical education will be provided. Centers will be operated by dedicated Department of Education staff, as well as personnel from the department’s partners at dozens of Community-Based Organizations. Social distancing protocols will be followed at all regional centers, including maintaining 6 feet of distance between people and limiting classrooms to less than 12 students. Sites will be regularly cleaned and disinfected.

MTA Q & A with Transit Workforce

MTA CEO Pat Foye and other MTA/NYCT officers conducted a Q & A today via YouTube. The key points asked and answered are summarized in our flyer here.

We will keep you updated as events continue to develop.

Statement from TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano on the MTA’s Report of Positive Tests Among Transit Workers

March 19, 2020, 4:45pm – The MTA has just released its first comprehensive report on the number of MTA employees from across all of its operating authorities who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The number of positive tests includes 19 from NYCT and MTA Bus, combined.  Of that number, 12 are Local 100 members.  These numbers are of great concern and are sure to grow.

President Utano released a separate statement to the media. You can read it here.

The MTA, at the highest level, has assured us that once it learns a worker has been quarantined, tested positive, or is awaiting test results, it is following an intense cleaning protocol and identifying co-workers for evaluation who may have had contact with that person. Our task is to keep pushing the MTA to do more to protect our members while providing essential bus and subway service, particularly to the hospital workers, nursing home staff, first responders and others who absolutely must get to their jobs because lives depend on it.

This news also highlights why Local 100 demanded that MTA arrange for expedited testing for transit workers. Symptomatic transit workers should not have to wait days upon days for test results or be denied testing for any reason. We have always been essential to the economy of New York City and to the day-to-day lives of millions of riders. It’s become strikingly clear during this crisis that we also are vitally important to the health and wellbeing of those riders – not only now, but after we pull through this crisis.

As transit workers, we understand that our bus and subway system is essential to the economy of the entire region. We have always risen to the occasion in past crises, including most recently, Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Here we are again, with the Coronavirus pandemic. In some ways this crisis is no different than previous ones, but in many ways, it is much worse, and all of New York is looking to us to keep the heart and soul of New York, our transit system, running.

We must take every precaution, but we must not panic. Experts say 80% of people who contract the virus will be able to recover at home and not require hospitalization. If you have a pre-existing condition, consult your medical provider and ask if you should stay at home. If you believe you were in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, call your medical provider and ask what you should do. Follow the recommendations of the Centers For Disease Control and other health experts, including washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds and keeping your distance when possible from others.

On March 17th, the Local 100 Executive Committee met at the union hall to discuss all matters related to this crisis. We are calling on the MTA to give more direction on how to keep safe distances from co-workers in the work environment. We previously demanded that the MTA immediately establish a dedicated phone number for NYC Transit workers with health questions and concerns to call and get answers from trained medical staff. The MTA agreed and established this hotline. As of today, you can call it at 646-252-1010. If you have difficulty getting someone on the line, the MTA advises you try your HR representative at 347-643-8466 (NYC Transit) or 718-696-3643 (MTA Bus).

With the closure of New York City schools, transit workers may be facing real challenges for childcare.  The City of New York is opening school facilities beginning March 23, 2020 to provide child care for the children of essential workers, including transit workers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics. We are pressing the MTA to confirm the details and requirements, such as what types of identification will be required.

March 17 -- Coronavirus Update

IB ImageIB ImageMARCH 17 --  Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano is calling on the MTA to arrange testing for transit workers who are “presumptively positive” and those at their work locations that medical experts say also should be tested.
 
Bus and subway workers move millions of people a day. They are cleaning and sanitizing trains, buses, stations and other heavily used areas around the clock.

“We are on the front-lines and they want to keep us on the front-lines so hospital workers, nursing home staff, first-responders and others can get to their critical jobs,” Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “It’s absolutely vital that we do everything we can to identify any transit workers who are infected so they can be isolated and prevent them to every extent possible from spreading the illness to the co-workers and the public.”
 
As of Tuesday 5 p.m., the state Department of Health has not notified the MTA of any Local 100 members who tested positive for coronavirus. There are cases of workers who demonstrated symptoms and at the direction of medical personnel self-quarantined; they are awaiting test results from the State Health Department. We are defining someone as “presumptively positive” if a doctor has determined they may have the virus and/or directed they be tested.
 
There have been incidents of transit workers who self-quarantined because they recently traveled to a hot-spot country but they either did not develop the virus or they are waiting for test results.
 
TWU Local 100 is also making the following demands of the MTA:
 
* Immediately establish a 1-800 number for NYC Transit workers with health questions and concerns to call and get answers from trained medical staff.
 
* Establish a number for transit workers to call and report a lack of hand sanitizer at their work facility or reporting location. Local 100 wants copies of those reports to spot check and ensure follow-up
 
TWU Local 100’s Stations Department, meanwhile, is launching a regular survey in which elected union officers and staff will call each booth and ask the Station Agent on duty if the appropriate supplies are present. If not, the Department will demand management correct the situation.

Photos: The union's top leadership met today to formulate new demands to management.

Aetna to Waive Fees for COVID-19 Testing

Aetna will waive co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the testing for patients who meet CDC guidelines and must be requested by your provider. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing at any authorized location for all Active, Pre-Medicare Retiree and Medicare Advantage Plan members. Read more at this link.

An Important Bulletin from President Tony Utano

IB ImageMARCH 16 -- President Tony Utano released this bulletin today regarding the Union's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Please click on the image to get a downloadable copy.

Utano Lambastes GCS for Coronavirus “Policy”

FRIDAY, MARCH 13 -- TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano lashed out at MTA contractor, Global Contact Services(GCS), for threatening to fire workers who can’t come to work if they have the coronavirus or are quarantined because they might have the illness. In a Thursday interview with 1010 WINS news radio, Utano vowed that Local 100 would seek legal action against the company should it terminate any worker because of a coronavirus illness.  He also said the union would demand that the MTA terminate the GCS’ contract for its actions.

“The company’s policy is an absolute disgrace, especially considering the extraordinary steps the City and State are taking to contain the spread of COVID-19,” Utano said in an earlier press release.  “Under this idiotic and dangerous policy, sick workers will come to work to try to save their jobs, and possibly infect co-workers.” The company’s sick leave policy grants up to 5 sick days per calendar year; workers who take more than 5 days face termination.  A GCS lawyer told the union on Wednesday that the company policy remained in place – despite the coronavirus crisis in which people are quarantined for weeks at a time and those who are ill need more than 5 days to recover.

Because of Local 100’s criticism and public attacks, GCS issued a more empathetic memo telling workers not to worry about termination if they are symptomatic or test positive for the virus.  The memo, however, falls short of a guarantee and Local 100 continues to press them on this issue.

Union Issues New Fact Sheet on Coronavirus

Local 100 has issued a new update and fact sheet on the coronavirus, including the suspension of the Kronos fingerscan system, mask policy, ramped up cleaning procedures in MTA facilities, and precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. You can download it here.

Union's Ad in the Daily News Tells Public: We Can't Work From Home

MARCH 12 -- Local 100 took out a full-page ad in the Daily News to highlight to the public the critical roles our members play during emergencies, and to attack those at the MTA who don’t fully appreciate that. View the ad here.

Union Postpones Quill-Connolly Day

We have made the decision to postpone the annual event honoring our Founder, Mike Quill, and James Connolly, the Irish labor martyr, in light of the extraordinary steps being taken locally and nationally to limit the gathering of large groups. The event had been scheduled for Monday, March 16. We will celebrate Quill Connolly at a later date at the Union Hall.

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