Media Center

ATU demands transit agencies provide adequate testing and paid sick leave after misguided new CDC guidance on COVID quarantine

Guidelines could make worker shortage even worse

Silver Spring, MD – With the major spike in COVID cases as the Omicron variant spreads and updated recommendations from the CDC reducing isolation and quarantine periods for asymptomatic people, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President John Costa released the following statement:

"With the Omicron variant fueling record COVID cases across the country, the CDC made the misguided and irresponsible decision to shorten the duration of quarantines for asymptomatic people to five days. This new guidance should not be used to abuse sick employees by forcing them to return to work after testing positive and before they have fully recovered. Considering the new CDC guidance, the ATU is calling on transit employers to go above and beyond to protect their frontline hero workers as we have since this pandemic began.

"The ATU has lost more than 195 members to this devastating disease, with thousands having been infected. We remain concerned that our frontline members and all workers being forced back to work could lead to even more members transmitting the disease and dying.

"This pandemic is far from over and at the very least, a negative test should be required before employers force employees back to work. It's also in the best interest of transit agencies and the riding public to prioritize safety by providing transit workers free and accessible testing, paid sick leave, and adequate PPE including n95 masks.

"With worker shortages in public transit and other industries happening across the country, we need to ensure that workers can recover after testing positive, or the crisis will only intensify. Throughout this pandemic, many transit agencies have failed to provide safe working conditions and adequate wages, leading many transit workers to find better jobs in other industries. Our members want to know everything is being done to keep them safe at work. Strengthening, not weakening, protections is what's needed now more than ever.

"As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, the ATU renews our demands for safety protections for our members, including rear door boarding, protective bus driver shields, proper air filtration systems, and other measures to ensure frontline workers are kept safe on the job."