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Pandemic Persists With Tragic Consequences for Transit Workers

Labor unions are raising alarms about the difficulties of keeping transit workers—the essential workers upon which so many essential workers rely—safe during the pandemic.
September 16, 2020, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Lake Oswego Transit Center
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Marcia Brown reports on an underreported tragedy amongst the many tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Hundreds of these transit workers have died as a result of their exposure to the virus while at work. Nearly 100 members of Transit Workers Union Local 100 in New York City alone have died. Every time there’s a hot spot around the country, labor leaders told me, transit workers in that region contract COVID-19 and some die.

More data from around the country add to the misery:

As of [September 4], at least 87 ATU members have died. TWU has lost at least 150 members, and no fewer than 10,000 members have tested positive or been in quarantine. But for the most part, states and agencies aren’t tracking COVID deaths of transit workers. According to ATU Local 192 president Yvonne Williams in Oakland, California, AC Transit officials claim that workers for bus system serving parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, contracted the disease outside the workplace. As of September 3, 37 of her members have contracted the disease and two have died.

All of this death has occurred while ridership has declined catastrophically in most cities and regions, and transit agencies continue to raise alarms about fiscal solvency as Congress has come up short on a second round of economic relief for the country. The funding shortfalls have made it difficult for transit agencies to invest in the public health and safety measures necessary to keep transit workers safe during the pandemic, according to the article. Labor unions are left to fill some of the void, but struggling to effectively balance so many risks to transit workers, according to Brown.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 in The American Prospect
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