Media Center

Jan 15

Despite $203 million in federal transit COVID relief on the way, RTD kicks transit workers and riders to the curb

ATU Local 1001 questions layoff of 200 workers amid coronavirus pandemic  
Denver, CO – As the Regional Transit District (RTD) is set to receive $203 million in federal emergency transit funding from the latest COVID stimulus package, ATU Local 1001-Denver, CO is questioning why the agency has laid off about 200 workers and slashed critical transit service amidst the pandemic.

“It makes no sense that RTD would proceed with layoffs while our members are coming to work every day to provide transit service for the region's critical workers – nurses, grocery store workers and others - on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community,” said Local President Lance Longenbohn. “The new COVID Stimulus package will provide an influx of funding for RTD that will allow the system to keep running and workers to get paid to keep our community moving in this time of crisis.”

RTD claims that layoffs were necessary to address a reported $140 million budget deficit for 2021, but the latest COVID Relief package will provide $203 million in emergency funding for the transit agency. The legislation allows maximum flexibility so that RTD can use the funding for operating assistance to pay workers and to keep service running for the community.

The Union argues the worker layoffs will lead to an operator shortage that could potentially cripple Denver’s economic recovery.  Colorado Governor Jared Polis emphasized RTD’s importance in May 2020 saying, “Our economic recovery depends on the ability to have a safe, efficient, and accountable transportation network,” and in November 2020 saying, “RTD will be an important player in the coming months as we continue to recover from the impacts of this economic disruption.”

“As they have done since this pandemic began, RTD transit workers continue to work around the clock to provide critical transit service and stay true to RTD’s mission, all while putting themselves and their families at risk in order to do it,” said ATU International President John Costa. “These layoffs mean these workers will not be able to put food on the table and pay their bills. The RTD calls us frontline heroes, but now they are kicking about 200 of us to the curb.”