New York, NY -The MTA says city buses were delayed on Thursday due to an early morning job action at the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot in Brooklyn.
“This was a systematic effort to disrupt service and not sanitize buses for customers in the middle of a pandemic,” MTA Spokesperson Abbey Collins said. “Service was impacted this morning due to a job action in Brooklyn resulting in TWU workers refusing to clean and disinfect buses prior to them being placed into service to move customers.”
According to the MTA, the Thursday morning job action occurred after an employee was suspended for allegedly falsifying documents claiming he made sensitive safety repairs to one of the buses.
The New York Post, however, suggested that the employee was a scapegoat and suspended for “labor scuffles” at the depot.
A spokesperson for TWU Local 100, the union representing transit workers, declined to comment when contacted. The Post reports that Thursday morning’s slow down was not a union-sanctioned job action.
The job action slowed bus service by eight to 12-minutes, having a residual outcome for straphangers throughout the day, according to the MTA.
Joseph Branch, a Queens bus driver and an executive board member of ATU Local 1056 – a different bus union that doesn’t represent the Gleason Bus Depot – also agreed that his Brooklyn colleagues’ job action was related to labor issues, one of which was assaults against bus operators.
“We have had bus operators assaulted by customers that get on the bus,” said Branch. “For whatever reason, they either spit in the bus operators face, assault them or get on the bus smoking a cigarette, then when confronted, they will get violent.”
By law, an attacker should face felony charges upwards of seven years in prison for assaulting a bus operator, according to Branch.
“If we call the cops and the person is still at the scene, they won’t even arrest them,” said Branch. “It’s rough. There are so many different things that we are forced to deal with, you know?”
Former Queens District Attorney Richard Brown would often plead down attackers of bus operators, according to Branch.
“They were often charged with a misdemeanor,” according to Branch. “Similar things like this were happening in Brooklyn.”
The Thursday morning job action forced MTA managers to put together a plan and redirected all available resources to disinfect the vehicles coming out of the Jackie Gleason depot.