Families of Transit Worker Heroes Killed by COVID-19 to Receive $500,000 Death Benefit Payments

“We can’t bring back our heroic co-workers but we can make sure their families are taken care of," Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “We will continue to fight in Albany for additional benefits to help the families left behind and to further honor our lost heroes’ great sacrifice to this city and state.”

“New York wouldn’t have a fighting chance against this virus if transit workers weren’t getting the blue collar heroes of this pandemic  – nurses, paramedics, food service workers   – to the front lines of the battle  all across the metropolitan region,” TWU International President John Samuelsen said. “This COVID-19 death benefit is a recognition of the incredible contributions and sacrifices our workforce has made.”

TWU first called for the Line of Duty benefit ($500,000 instead of the $50,000 Active Duty benefit) on March 26 after we suffered our first fatality to the virus, Conductor Peter Petrassi.

TWU Local 100 Local 100 President Tony Utano issued this statement on that date: "The death due to the Coronavirus of our brother, Peter Petrassi, is a terrible tragedy. TWU Local 100 feels this loss and mourns with his family. Conductor Petrassi’s passing is a line-of-duty death just as if he had been killed on the job in any number of ways that have struck down transit workers in years past. Transit workers are saddened. The MTA must NOW provide masks to frontline transit workers. Otherwise, the moment is rapidly approaching where bus and subway workers will do what is necessary to protect themselves and their families. Dedication and duty does not mean using transit workers as cannon fodder."

The MTA's cold and callous response finally came from a spokeswoman on April 7th: “As in previous national disasters, we urge the federal government to step up and provide a legislative presumption and dedicated funding," the spokeswoman said. "Our workers are heroes and deserve nothing less.”