Friday, April 19, 2024
Home Travel M.T.A. Workers, Upset Over Subway Safety, Disrupt Morning Service

M.T.A. Workers, Upset Over Subway Safety, Disrupt Morning Service

by Staff

New York City Transit workers, responding to an overnight slashing attack that injured a train conductor, stopped work to file safety complaints on Thursday morning, causing severe disruptions in subway service.

The slashing occurred at about 3:40 a.m. on a southbound A train in Brooklyn. During the morning rush hours, workers staged the job action at the 207th Street station on the A line and the 168th Street station on the A and C lines in Manhattan. The workers declined to fulfill their assigned jobs, leading to the disruptions, according to two transit officials with knowledge of the situation.

Union leaders resisted calling the service disruption a protest. Workers filled the safety forms, called the Safety Dispute Resolution Form, through their representatives, said Richard Davis, the president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents city subway and bus workers. The forms assure workers that the tracks are safe to operate on. The delays occurred as employees were waiting for the forms to be cleared by managers, Mr. Davis said.

Transit leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, however, called the move by union members a disguised work stoppage that ultimately did not address their concerns. At a separate news conference, Richard Davey, president of the M.T.A. division that operates the subway, called the morning disruptions “unacceptable.”

“The union leadership decided to put on some kind of work-stoppage charade which impacted a couple of hundred thousand New Yorker’s commutes today,” he said, adding, “They’ve assured me that conduct will no longer occur.”

The attack on Thursday further inflamed long-simmering complaints that the M.T.A., the state agency that runs the transit system, has not done enough to guarantee worker safety.

Several transit workers have been assaulted while on the job in recent weeks, leading union leaders to ask that more transit officers be added to the stations. On Feb. 14, a station agent’s eye socket was fractured when a man who had followed her down a platform punched her. In a separate episode, a conductor was hit in the face with a tennis ball, according to reports.

In a news release, Mr. Davis said employees were deeply concerned about their safety. “We need better protection now, before we lose one of our own.”

In the attack that occurred early Thursday, a conductor, Alton Scott, was assaulted while on duty at the Rockaway Avenue station on the A line along Fulton Street in Brooklyn, according to a news release from Local 100. Mr. Scott, 59, who has worked for the authority for 24 years, was making “routine observations” from the cab window of a train when he was attacked, they said. He was taken to Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, where he received 34 stitches.

Mr. Scott was listed in stable condition on Thursday evening, according to the police. There had been no arrests in the case, and the investigation was continuing, the police said.

In response to the attack, union leaders said they had initiated a “Section 1.9 grievance,” a process in their contracts by which they can make more formal safety recommendations.

“Almost getting killed is clear and imminent danger, and we are enforcing that contract policy, and we are going to the higher level now,” said John Chiarello, a union official and director of safety.

In a statement on Thursday, John Samuelson, the president of the Transport Workers Union International, which represents 150,000 workers in sectors that include airlines, railroads and transit industries, criticized Janno Lieber, the chairman and chief executive of the M.T.A.

Mr. Samuelsen said the attack of Mr. Scott was a “horrific example of the epic, decades-long failure” by the M.T.A. and Mr. Lieber “to protect transit workers.”

At a news conference, Mr. Lieber praised the police for arriving quickly at the scene of Mr. Scott’s attack and highlighted the M.T.A.’s recent efforts at increasing safety in the transit system.

“We’re trying to innovate and try a lot of different things,” Mr. Lieber said. “This is an innovation M.T.A.”

Transit officials have recently started a pilot program that introduces metal platform barriers to keep riders from falling onto subway tracks and are in the process of installing surveillance cameras in every subway car, among other measures. About 1,000 of the system’s roughly 6,500 cars are equipped with cameras.

Concerns over transit worker safety are not limited to New York City.

Assaults on transit workers across the country have tripled over the past 15 years, according to a recent study by the Urban Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., that conducts economic and social policy research. The numbers, even as they’re growing, are most likely an undercount, the report said. The researchers found that attacks against transit workers in New York had gone from occurring once every three days in 2008 to once every 1.4 days in 2022.

Lindiwe Rennert, who wrote the report, said that transit workers — in part because they are very accessible to the public — have become a focal point for the growing dissatisfaction and distrust people are feeling toward authority figures in government and society.

In December, the Biden administration proposed a general directive to address “significant and continuing national-level safety risk related to assaults on transit workers.” The measure would require transit agencies to assess potential dangers and draw up possible solutions, among other requirements.

Reports of crimes in the New York City transit system this year have increased by 13 percent, compared with the same time in 2023, according to city data. Through Feb. 25, the authorities have tallied six assaults against subway employees, up from five last year, according to police data. In response to a surge in crime in January, Mayor Eric Adams ordered that an additional 1,000 uniformed officers be deployed in the transit system.

In the past two years, state and city leaders have started several anti-crime initiatives in the subway, including extra overtime for police officers and the involuntary removal of severely mentally ill homeless people.

Leave a Comment

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Tourism Trends