MTA calls for legislation to protect transit workers

The MTA and union officials are urging New York state lawmakers to pass legislation that would protect more transit workers from attack before the end of the legislature, The Post has learned.

In a letter to Senatorial Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​(D-Westchester) and House Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx), transit chiefs noted that attacks on transit workers “have increased and increased in recent years.” .

“We are writing to request that before the adjournment of the 2022 Legislative Session, you address one of the egregious flaws in the New York State law protecting transit workers from attack,” MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber and six other transit chiefs said in the Saturday letter , received from the post office.

Under current law, people who attack or harass certain transit workers — such as subway drivers or conductors — “with intent to cause bodily harm” can be charged with second-degree assault.

However, the MTA wants Albany to amend state law to accommodate about 11,000 additional transit workers such as station customer assistants, traffic controllers, ticket collectors and their supervisors who are not currently protected by law.

The change would also include workers in these positions on the commuter rail lines like the Long Island Railroad.

Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Janno Lieber
Janno Lieber, Chairman and CEO of MTA, believes employees need extra protection and shouldn’t be afraid to come to work.
Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Will Schwartz, the MTA’s deputy chief of state and local government, told The Post he and Lieber had a Zoom meeting with Heastie a week ago to discuss the urgent need for the application before June 2 — the last day of the legislature – to explain.

“The clock is ticking, we don’t want them to go out without this piece,” he said.

MTA statistics, published online, show that subway workers have faced an average of two attacks a week this year alone. Dozens of cases of worker harassment have also been reported.

“MTA frontline workers have been heroic during the COVID pandemic, keeping the New York City metro area moving. Unfortunately, however, in recent years there has been a trend towards increasing attacks on transport workers,” the letter reads.

Canal Street subway station
Subway crime continues to rise, reducing ridership.
Paul Martinka

“Our employees should not be subjected to physical abuse on a daily basis, including hitting, spitting, shoving and other violent behavior.”

The letter was also signed by Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano; Mark Henry, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056; Daniel Cassella, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 726; Anthony Simon of the Long Island Railroad; Edward Valente of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees and Michael Carrube, President of the Subway Surface Supervisors Association.

MTA officials are also supporting a bill sponsored by State Senator Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) that would add a new felony to the books and make it a Class A misdemeanor if a person hits, pushes or kicks a transit worker. However, it is unlikely that this measure will be passed before the end of the session.

Leroy Comrie, New York State Senator
Sen. Leroy Comrie is also making efforts to protect transit workers.
Richard Harnus
Q train
Metro workers suffer an average of two attacks every week.
Michael Dalton

The agency was also reprimanded by the state Department of Labor earlier this month for failing to register over 200 assaults on workers in 2019 and 2020, in violation of Empire State requirements.

Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD have implemented strategies to reduce subway crime in recent months and reinvigorated the department’s night patrol unit — meaning more officers are tasked with boarding platforms and trains.

Recent high-profile attacks on commuters — like Michelle Go’s shove in Times Square and last weekend’s Q-Train death — have prompted Adams to meet face-to-face with business leaders in hopes of gaining confidence in his administration’s plans for the create public safety.

Representatives for the Stewart cousins ​​and Heastie could not be reached for immediate comment. MTA calls for legislation to protect transit workers


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