By Labor Press
A major conference is in the planning stages between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and unions representing its workforce who say their members are under siege from unprovoked assaults on bus and train operators. The half-day event at NYC Tech at 285 Jay Street, near to the MTA’s old headquarters building, is already being promoted on posters and flyers issued by both unions and the MTA.
The “National Transit Workers Assault Conference” will feature the heads of both the largest international transit unions, including Jim Little of TWU and Larry Hanley of ATU. MTA CEO Joseph Lhota will partner with TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen on an introductory panel, which will also include the international presidents and heads of other prominent transit locals from Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
TWU Local 100 says there are three assaults on bus operators each week in New York City, incidents which include punching, kicking and spitting, but also occasionally knife and gun violence. There are fewer subway assaults, but the problem underground is still significant, the union says. The conference will explore ways to bring these numbers down, including perspectives from law enforcement and political leaders.
Suggestions being talked about range from increasing penalties for repeat offenders to targeting assault “hot spots” with more police presence. Also under consideration are programs to “humanize” transit workers and bring young people – who commit the majority of assaults – into closer contact with transit workers so that they can appreciate their jobs and the stresses they face.
photo caption: TWU Local 100 Chief of Staff Harry Wills holds up a poster for the upcoming May 10 Assault Conference. At his right is MTA Director of Labor Relations Anita Miller. At left is ATU Local 726 President Danny Cassella.